Justices find turnover provision valid, give Floyd County justice center title

After considering a dispute over ownership of a Floyd County criminal justice center, the Indiana Supreme Court on Monday concluded a turnover provision in a lease between the county and the building authority is valid and enforceable.

In 1992, Floyd County entered into 15-year lease with the New Albany, Floyd County Building Authority, allowing the county to lease a criminal justice center while the city sublet space from the county. The lease included a provision that allowed the county to request the title of the property at the conclusion of the agreement.

Ten years later, however, the building authority refused when the county demanded the title to the center. The Floyd Superior Court initially ordered that the title be given to the county, but a split panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals found the turnover provision was not valid under Indiana Code section 36-9-13.

In a Monday opinion, the Indiana Supreme Court sided with the trial court in City of New Albany v. Board of Commissioners of the County of Floyd, 19S-MI-674, concluding that the turnover provision in the lease was, in fact, valid.

“We agree with Judge (Elaine) Brown that there is no conflict between the two statutes. While Indiana Code section 36-9-13-22 sets forth various specific powers of the board of directors of a building authority, it does not by its plain language limit a building authority’s ability to transfer property,” Justice Steven David wrote for the unanimous high court. “Instead, it provides, among other things, for a building authority to receive gifts, devises or bequests of property and then once received, for the ability to dispose of that property. There is nothing in section 22 to suggest that these are the only powers granted to a building authority or that this section provides the sole manner for disposing of property belonging to a building authority.

“Indiana Code section 36-1-11-8 provides more broadly that governmental agencies, including but not limited to municipal corporations like a building authority, may transfer or exchange property,” the high court continued. “The fact that there are multiple code sections that give a building authority the ability to transfer property does not, by itself, mean that that the statutes are inconsistent absent some language that indicates as much. Because these two statutes can operate under their own separate requirements that do not conflict, both can and should be given meaning and effect without overriding one another.”

Additionally, the justices noted that the Indiana General Assembly adopted the statutes during the same legislative session and thus neither statute is supplemental to, or overwritten by the other.

“Accordingly, there is no indication that the two statutes are in conflict and we will not read them as such when they both can stand independent of one another,” the high court concluded.

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