CHAPTER 113 - LEVY COURT--NEW CASTLE COUNTY CREATION OF SANITARY DISTRICTS

AN ACT TO AMEND ARTICLE 1, CHAPTER 43 OF THE REVISED CODE OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE, 1935, RELATING TO THE LEVY COURT OF NEW CASTLE COUNTY, AND PROVIDING FOR THE CREATION OF SANITARY DISTRICTS FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROVIDING FOR THE INSTALLATION AND MAINTENANCE OF SEWERAGE SYSTEMS AND TREATMENT PLANTS IN WHOLE OR IN PART, FOR THE ISSUING OF CERTIFICATES OF INDEBTEDNESS AND/OR BONDS TO SECURE THE PAYMENT IN WHOLE OR IN PART OF SUCH IMPROVEMENTS, AND PROVIDING FOR THE ASSESSMENT OF COSTS AND THE LEVYING OF SUCH TAXES FOR THE PAYMENT OF INTEREST ON SUCH CERTIFICATES OF INDEBTEDNESS AND/OR BONDS, FOR THE RETIREMENT ON THE SAME, AND FOR THE OPERATION AND MAINTENANCE COSTS OF SAID SEWERAGE SYSTEMS AND SEWAGE TREATMENT PLANTS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:

Section 1. That Article 1, 1170, Section 24 of Chapter 43 of the Revised Code of Delaware, 1935, be and the same is hereby amended by adding at the end of the said section the following additional paragraphs, to wit:

Whenever contiguous territory containing one or more centers of population, whether incorporated or not, shall be so situated that the construction of interceptor sewers, outfall sewers and sewage treatment plants will be conducive to the preservation of the public health, said territory shall be established by the Levy Court as a sanitary district.

Such a district shall not be established however, until petitions have been presented to the Levy Court as hereinafter outlined, or unless the Levy Court has already constructed sewers to which fifty or more houses have been connected, in which case the Levy Court may establish, upon request of the County Engineer, a new district or revise the boundaries of an established district without further petitions or hearings by posting at four public places in the district notices describing the new or revised boundaries, and, in the case of the establishment of a new district, the same cost and assessment data required for districts established by vote of electors.

Within thirty days after the posting of the notices of the establishment of the district, the Levy Court shall pass a formal resolution establishing the district, which shall contain a description of the boundaries of the district, which shall authorize and direct the County Engineer and the attorney of the Levy Court to procure the necessary land and/or rights-of-way by purchase, agreement, or condemnation in accordance with existing statutes, and which shall authorize the County Engineer to prepare maps, plans, specifications, and estimates, let contracts for and supervise the construction and maintenance of, or enlarging and remodeling of, any or all structures required to provide for the safe disposal of the sewage in the said sanitary district.

Fifty or more legal voters resident of a proposed sanitary district may petition the Levy Court to submit the question of organizing a sanitary district to a vote of electors residing in that district. The said petition shall contain a description of the proposed district and shall be accompanied by a map drawn to scale showing the boundaries of the proposed sanitary district together with the limits of any incorporated areas which may be included in said district.

The execution of the petition by an elector shall be acknowledged by him or it may be proved by the oath of a witness who shall swear that he knows the elector and that the petition was signed by the elector in the presence of the witness. Upon receipt of the petition, the Levy Court shall set a date for a public hearing thereon. The hearing shall be held within thirty days after the receipt of the petition. The hearing shall have been previously advertised by posting a notice, in four of the most public places within the proposed district, at least ten days prior thereto and by publishing a notice in a newspaper published within the County and having a general circulation therein, once in each of two weeks immediately preceding the week in which the hearing is to be held. All interested persons, officials, residents, voters, tax payers, property owners or other persons or corporations in any way affected by the granting of said petition shall be heard on any question dealing with the location of the boundaries of the district.

Following the public hearing, the Levy Court shall fix boundaries of the districts as proposed or modify the boundaries as will best serve the public needs. The Levy Court shall also cause to be prepared, by the County Engineer or consulting Engineers, an estimate of the cost of proposed immediate construction and also an approximate estimate of the assessment per front foot and the amount to be included in the assessment necessary to take care of interest, amortization and maintenance costs. Said construction cost estimates and assessment estimates shall be advertised in the same manner as herein provided for advertising the public hearing.

The Levy Court then shall cause to be held an election within six months following the date of the hearing, at which the question shall be submitted to the voters residing within the boundaries of the sanitary district as fixed by the Levy Court as to whether the district shall be established or not. Notice of the election shall be advertised in the same manner as herein provided for advertising the public hearing. The cost of the election shall be borne by the Levy Court, which shall be reimbursed for such cost by the district, if established by the election.

The proposition shall be submitted substantially in the following form:

FOR THE SANITARY DISTRICT ______________

AGAINST THE SANITARY DISTRICT ____________

The majority of votes cast shall decide the matter.

The election shall be managed and the votes canvassed in the same manner as in the election of any County office. If the majority are in favor of establishing the sanitary district, the Levy Court shall within thirty days following the election, issue a determination to the effect which shall contain a description of the sanitary district and the Court shall file a certified copy of said determination with the County Clerk. Within thirty days after the election, the Levy Court shall authorize the County Engineer and the Levy Court Attorney to procure the necessary land and/or rights-of-way by purchase, agreement; or by condemnation in accordance with existing statutes, and shall authorize the County Engineer to prepare maps, plans, specifications and estimates for any or all structures required to provide for the safe disposal of the sewage in the said sanitary district and to let contracts for, supervise the construction and maintenance of, or the enlarging or remodeling of such structures, and to carry on such other activities as may be required by this law or considered necessary to perform the duties herein prescribed.

It is intended that the Levy Court construct and maintain main sewers and sewage treatment works in order to provide a satisfactory outlet for any subdivision which may at any future time connect sub-main or lateral sewers to it. The Levy Court may also undertake the construction and/or maintenance of sub-mains or laterals as agents for cities or towns when officially requested so to act and when the cost of such work is to be borne by local assessments against the property benefitted, or by assessment by the Levy Court in the same manner as for unincorporated areas.

The Levy Court shall be empowered to issue bonds for the cost of such sewerage improvements and to pay the interest and retire the bonds out of moneys collected by assessments according to the methods hereinafter adopted by the Levy Court.

The Levy Court is hereby empowered to levy a special assessment for the express purpose of paying for the interest, the retirement of the bonds, the maintenance costs and said assessments to be in addition to the calculated assessment per front foot of the average installed cost of an eight inch sewer in said district and to be paid by property owners for sewers immediately serving said property owners.

In the case where a sanitary district shall include areas wherein sanitary sewers have been constructed under the authority of the Levy Court, or by incorporated towns, corporations or individuals, the necessary adjustments shall be made with each property owner for those costs already incurred by the said property owner when said sewers were constructed. Such excess costs shall be credited to future assessments levied by said district.

The said bonds shall bear interest of not more than three per cent per annum, and shall be issued for terms not exceeding twenty years. The money derived from the sale of bonds shall be placed by the Levy Court to the credit of the sanitary district just created and held as a separate account for said district.

The said Levy Court shall direct and effect the preparation and printing of the bonds authorized by this Act, fix the rate of interest, and shall prescribe the form of said bonds and the coupons for the payment of interest thereto attached. Said bonds shall state the conditions under which they are issued. The coupons and face amount thereof shall be payable at the branch of the Farmers Bank of Delaware in the County where said bonds are issued. Said bonds shall be signed by the presiding officer of the Levy Court, countersigned by the Clerk of the Peace, and sealed with the official seal of said Levy Court.

The Levy Court is hereby required and directed to advertise said bonds for sale in at least two issues each of two newspapers, one of which shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the City of Wilmington, Delaware, and one of which shall be published in the City of New York, inviting bids for the same, which advertisements shall state the total amount of the proposed issue, the denominations of said bonds, the place of payment of said bonds and interest, the place and date of opening said bids, and the condition under which said bonds are to be sold. Said Levy Court may give notice of the sale of said bonds in such other manner as it may decide.

The Levy Court shall have the power to require each bid for said bonds to be accompanied by a certified check in the amount of the bid, and after the bonds are awarded or sold to the successful bidder or bidders, therefore, the Levy Court shall return to the unsuccessful bidder or bidders the certified check or checks submitted with the bid or bids.

The said Levy Court shall have the right to reject any and all bids, but in awarding the sale of said bonds, or any of them, they shall be sold to the person, persons, firm or corporation which, in the judgment of the said Levy Court, offers the most advantageous terms. Said bonds shall not be offered for sale until the attorney for said Levy Court has submitted his opinion in writing that the bonds were validly issued in accordance with the provisions of this Act.

The Levy Court each year, at a time to be set by said Court, shall establish an annual assessment roll for said sanitary district and to be known as "Sanitary District Sewer Assessment", with the said assessments to be collected by the Levy Court as are other county taxes. The County Engineer shall collect the front foot assessment.

The total assessment for each year shall be sufficient to provide funds for retiring the bonds which have been issued and for the payment of the interest due on the same and for maintaining or improving the sewerage system and paying the necessary general expenses of the sanitary district. This assessment shall be apportioned by the Levy Court against the property in the sanitary district directly or indirectly benefited in proportion as nearly as may be the benefits derived. The property against which such assessments are levied shall be liable for the payment of said assessments in the same manner as they are liable for other county taxes. Provided, however, that no assessment shall be made against any property which is not now subject to Taxation and assessment for County and Municipal purposes.

The Commissioners of the Levy Court of New Castle County are hereby authorized to promulgate from time to time and enforce such rules and regulations, as may be necessary, governing the use of the whole or any parts of such sewerage systems or sewage treatment plants constructed under their control either within or without the district.

The Levy Court shall be empowered to accept grants and/or loans of money, labor, materials, equipment or technical assistance from agencies of the Federal or State Government or from inter-state agencies established by law, to accomplish the purposes of this Act and may pay the interest and amortization on such loans in the same manner as is authorized elsewhere in this Act for bonds.

If any clause, sentence, paragraph, section or part of this chapter shall be judged by any Court of competent jurisdiction to be invalid, such judgment shall not effect, impair or invalidate the remainder thereof, but shall be confined in its operation to the clause, sentence, paragraph, section, or part thereof directly involved in the controversy in Which such judgment shall have been rendered. This Act shall take effect immediately.

Approved April 25, 1945.