Business owners take management district to court

June 1, 2012 3:48:11 PM PDT
A battle is brewing between business owners and a management district in Montrose. The business owners say they're being unfairly taxed and they're taking the management district to court. The battle involves hundreds of businesses.

Management districts are nothing new, and Montrose is no exception. But a number of local business owners say their district doesn't do enough and they want it dissolved.

In Houston's bustling Montrose neighborhood, an apartment complex is a quiet reprieve, but its owner Bob Rose is angry, specifically at the Montrose Management District.

"I don't want to pay the fees," he said. "I'm not happy about how the district went about setting it up, where 25 people, kind of very quietly in a back room signed petitions to create this district."

Rose and several other Montrose business owners have filed suit against the area's management district and have been making their case on the internet. Management districts are legislature-created quasi-government entities that levy assessments on business property owners for services like better public safety and neighborhood upkeep. But the business owner's attorney says they just want the district to go away.

"What this district is trying to do, is to hit us with an unconstitutional illegal tax," said attorney Andy Taylor. "When we had the gall to gather together and to petition to dissolve them, which the law allows us to do, they stiff-armed us and they won't go away."

In court on Friday, the first step was taken in a long fight to dissolve the management district. The district's attorney argued the case should be thrown out. While Rose's attorney says they've collected enough signatures to legally dissolve the district.

While both sides wait for a ruling, Rose says he's just tired of paying $540 a year to an entity that's not the city, state, nor federal government.

He said, "If they want to set up these management districts, be very transparent about it, be very public about it, come out and address the people, tell them what you're going to do, have a vote of the people -- you get 51 percent of the people -- I'm fine with that."

The judge is expected to rule in a few weeks. Our phone calls to the management district have not been returned.


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