Appeal from the Iowa District Court for Polk County, Artis I. Reis, Judge.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: Tabor, J.
Kevin Kilgore appeals the dismissal of his challenge to the State Appeal Board's order sustaining the Ringgold County budget for fiscal year 2012. APPEAL DISMISSED.
Considered by Vaitheswaran, P.J., and Tabor and Mullins, JJ.
Kevin Kilgore appeals the district court's dismissal of his challenge to the State Appeal Board's order sustaining the adoption of the Ringgold County budget for fiscal year 2012. He contends the district court record does not contain substantial evidence to support the board's order. But Kilgore's brief concedes the action is moot and does not assert his appeal involves recurring issues of public interest that call for resolution. Accordingly, we dismiss the appeal as moot.
I. Background Facts and Proceedings
The Mount Ayr Record News published the Ringgold County proposed budget for the 2012 fiscal year on February 16, 2011. The county adopted the budget at a public meeting on March 3. On March 25, 2011, Kilgore protested the budget by filing a petition on behalf of 125 taxpayers with the Ringgold County Auditor. The State Appeal Board received the petition four days later. Kilgore raised four objections to the county budget:
The Ringgold County FY 2012 budget exceeds the General Basic Levy statutory limit of $3.50 by $1.00 per $1,000 of the assessed value of the taxable property with the justification of "the need for additional moneys to permit continuance of programs which provide substantial benefits to the county residents." The petitioners object that the budget does not justify the difference. [The budget] represents an actual property tax increase of $195,530 to pay $80,000 of non-discretionary spending. [The budget] represents a budgeted one year expenditure increase of $556,071 to pay for $80,000 of non-discretionary spending.
[The budget] does not reflect the cost of jail construction in either the FY 2012 (adopted) or the FY 2011 (current) budgets.*fn1
On April 21, 2011, the board held a hearing to address the protest. Kilgore acted as spokesperson for the petitioners. County Attorney Clint Spurrier served as the primary spokesperson for Ringgold County, while County Assessor Neil Morgan also responded to questions. One week later, the board issued an order sustaining the adoption of the Ringgold County budget.
On June 22, 2011, Kilgore filed an action pro se with the district court appealing the board's order, and filed an amended petition on August 2, 2011, containing claims that more closely aligned with the requirements set out in Iowa Code section 17A.19(4) (2011). He requested relief in the form of "a FY 2012 (2011/2012) budget that included a General Basic levy of not more than the mandatory 3.5 cap and a budgeted expenditure increase of no more than $80,000 with all other provisions of said budget being in accordance with Iowa law."
The board moved to dismiss, arguing the district court did not have jurisdiction to hear the case because Kilgore failed to comply with the requirements of judicial review under chapter 17A. The board asserted the contested budget had since been certified to the county auditor and in effect since July 1, 2011, and because Kilgore did not request a stay, the court could not grant relief.
In response, Kilgore filed a request for an interlocutory ruling to stay the agency decision, a motion for a schedule of proceedings, and a motion for an order to transmit the certified agency record.
On November 30, 2011, the district court scheduled proceedings, but denied Kilgore's motion for interlocutory ruling to stay the order because he did not request a stay at the agency level. The court also decided because the case was not a contested proceeding, section 17A.19(6) did not apply, and accordingly the agency did not need to transmit a record. On December 21, 2011, the court denied the board's motion to dismiss Kilgore's amended petition, finding that he sufficiently complied with section 17A.19.
Kilgore and the board submitted briefs and proposed findings to the court, which heard oral argument on the matter. On February 27, 2012, the court found the board's decision was supported by substantial evidence. Without ruling on any other arguments raised, the court dismissed the case. The order relied on the board's briefing for its analysis: "The Court specifically refers to the Respondent's Brief, ...