REINCORPORATING THE TOWN OF LAUREL
AN ACT TO RE-INCORPORATE THE TOWN OF LAUREL.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware (two-thirds of all the Members elected to each Branch thereof concurring therein):
Section 1. The inhabitants of the Town of Laurel, in Sussex County, are hereby constituted and continued a municipal corporation and body politic by and under the name and style of "Mayor and Council of Laurel", hereafter referred to as Corporation or Town, with power to govern themselves by such ordinances, rules, resolutions and regulations for municipal purposes as they may, through their duly elected officers and agents, deem proper, not in conflict with the provisions of this Charter of government, nor with the Constitution and Laws of the State of Delaware, or of the United States.
All ordinances, resolutions and regulations for municipal purposes heretofore adopted by the governing body of the Town of Laurel now in force, not inconsistent with or repealed or modified by the provisions of this Charter, shall continue in force until repealed or changed by proper authority, and are extended and made applicable to the territory comprised within the boundaries of the Town as described herein.
Officers of the Town of Laurel heretofore elected shall continue in office for the remainder of the several terms of office for which they were elected.
All appointed officers, agents and servants shall be continued in their several offices and employments unless removed by proper authority.
Section 2. Territorial limits.
The territorial limits of the Town of Laurel are as follows:
BEGINNING at a stone set in the southerly bank of the Laurel River, back of the lot owned by Raymond Jones; thence running in an easterly direction with the Southerly bank of the Laurel River, and following the course thereof, until it intersects the East side of Poplar Street; Northwest four and one-half degrees, a distance of sixty-three and four-tenths rods; from thence Northeast fifty and one-fourth degrees, a distance of sixty-three rods to Route 13 (thirteen) of the Delaware State Highway; from thence across said highway, and with the Southerly limits of the Laurel to Georgetown highway, Route Northeast sixty-six and one-half degrees, a distance of sixty-six rods; thence Northeast fifty-nine degrees, a distance of eighteen rods; thence Northeast, forty-eight and one-quarter degrees, a distance of twenty-nine and one-half rods to the center of a branch, thence leaving the road leading from Laurel to Georgetown, or Route, and following center of said branch, in a southerly direction until it intersects the North side of Laurel Lake; thence crossing said Lake Southeast thirty-nine and one-half degrees, such distance to a stone on the South side of Laurel Lake; from thence South southwest fourteen and three-quarters degrees, a distance of two hundred and eight and one-half rods, to a point in Rossakatum Branch Ditch; from thence Northwest eighty-one degrees, five minutes, a distance of three hundred and five and one-tenth rods, to a stone on the property of Luke E. Collins; thence Northeast nineteen and one-half degrees, a distance of one hundred and seventy-one and six-tenths rods home to the place of BEGINNING.
Section 3. Ward limits.
The Town of Laurel shall be divided into Four Wards, described as follows:
The First Ward shall consist of all that part of said Town lying and being within the following boundary lines, to-wit: BEGINNING at the intersection of the Southerly bank of Laurel River and the center line of Central Avenue, thence Southerly with the center line of Central Avenue, as extended, in a straight line, to the Southerly boundary line of corporate limits of the Town, as defined in Section 1 of this Act, being also a point on the land of the heirs of William W. Dashiell, deceased; thence with the said corporate limits Easterly, Northerly and Westerly to the place of BEGINNING.
The Second Ward shall consist of all that part of the said Town lying and being within the following boundary lines, to-wit: BEGINNING at the intersection of the Southerly bank of Laurel River, and the center line of Central Avenue; thence Southerly, with the center line of Central Avenue, to a point where the same intersects with the center line of Sixth Street; thence Westerly with the center line of Sixth Street, to a point in the Westerly boundary line or corporate limits of the Town, as defined in Section 1 of this Act, thence following the course of said boundary line, in a Northerly direction, to the Southerly bank of Laurel River, and thence therewith Easterly to the place of BEGINNING.
The Third Ward shall consist of all that part of the said Town lying and being within the following boundary lines, to-wit: BEGINNING at the intersection of the center line of Central Avenue, and the center line of Sixth Street; thence Southerly with said center line of said Central Avenue, as extended, in a straight line, to a point in the Southerly boundary line or corporate limits of the Town, as defined in Section 1 of this Act, being also a point in the land of the heirs of William W. Dashiell, deceased; thence in a Southwesterly direction, following the course of said boundary line, to a stone set in the land of the heirs of Thomas H. Riggin; thence North eighty-three and one-half degrees West, following the course of the Westerly boundary line of the Town to the center line of Sixth Street aforesaid, and thence Easterly with the center line of Sixth Street aforesaid, to the place of BEGINNING.
The Fourth Ward shall consist of all that part of the said Town lying and being within the following boundary lines, to-wit:
BEGINNING at the East side of Poplar Street and the North side of Laurel River; thence following up the North side of said River to and across Records Mill Dam; thence up the North side of Records Mill Pond to a branch on the North side of said Mill Pond; thence up with the said branch in a Northerly direction to a new stone road leading to Georgetown; thence in a Westerly direction along and with the South side of said public road to the public road, leading from Laurel to Bethel; thence along and with the Southeast side of Poplar Street to the place of BEGINNING.
Section 4. Annexation of territory.
The corporation is vested with the power and authority to annex to the Town any territory, ponds and streams or territory abutting thereon, contiguous to the boundaries of the Town as established herein.
The procedure for the annexation of territory shall be as follows:
Upon the presentation to the Council of a petition signed by a majority of persons owning land in the territory sought to be annexed, duly acknowledged by each signer before a Notary Public, the Council shall adopt a resolution in which there shall be included an accurate description of the territory, and fixing a time for a public hearing of the qualified voters of the Town and owners of land in the territory to be held within sixty days from the day of the adoption of the resolution. A copy of the resolution shall be published in a newspaper in the Town in at least two consecutive issues prior to the time fixed for the public hearing. Thereupon, after hearing all persons interested, and considering the advantages, if it be determined to proceed with the proposed annexation, the Council shall by ordinance or resolution provide for calling and holding a special election at which the proposed annexation of territory shall be decided.
The special election shall be held and conducted in the same manner as a general municipal election is conducted, and subject to the same voting requirements and qualifications. The Council shall prepare the form of the ballot permitting the voter to express his decision either for or against the proposed annexation of territory.
At the conclusion of the election the ballots shall be counted publicly, and the result certified to the Council by the members of the election board, and the certification shall be incorporated in the Minutes of the Council.
If the result of the balloting shall be in favor of the proposed annexation of territory, the Council shall adopt a resolution declaring that the territory described be annexed to the Town subject to the provisions of the Charter of the Town, its
laws, ordinances and resolutions; and shall cause a certificate to be prepared, signed by the Mayor, attested by the Town Clerk, and under the corporate seal, embodying the result of the balloting, an accurate description of the territory, and the resolution of the Council, together with a plot of the territory annexed to be recorded in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds for Sussex County; and thereupon the Charter of the Town with respect to its territorial limits shall be deemed to be amended.
Section 5. Corporate powers, general.
The corporation is invested with power and authority necessary and appropriate for the government of the Town of Laurel, the beauty of the Town, its peace and good order, the sanitation, health, comfort, safety, convenience and well-being of its inhabitants, and the protection and preservation of property, public and private.
Section 6. Corporate powers. Specific.
In furtherance of, and not in limitation of the general and special powers of government conferred herein, the corporation is vested with the power and authority by ordinance, resolution, regulation or rule,
(1) To adopt, make and use a corporate seal.
(2) To sue and be sued, answer and defend, in all Courts of law and equity and before commissions and administrative bodies in the name of the corporation.
(3) To acquire and hold by purchase, lease or otherwise, and to sell, demise or otherwise dispose of real and personal property, wheresoever situated, necessary or appropriate for municipal purposes.
(4) To take and hold devises, bequests and donations of real and personal property, wheresoever situated, for its own use, or in trust for charitable, benevolent, educational or other public purposes.
(5) To acquire, construct and maintain public buildings, libraries, hospitals, asylums and reformatory institutions, and to regulate the management thereof.
(6) To appropriate money to aid in the relief and support of the sick, infirm and disabled residents of the Town, and for the support of private hospitals, libraries, asylums, reformatories and volunteer fire companies.
(7) To construct, maintain, cleanse, abandon, vacate and regulate the use of bridges and viaducts.
(8) To construct, extend, improve, control and regulate the use of sewers, sewage disposal plants, drains, gutters and other means for the drainage and disposal of water and sewage within the limits of the Town and within one mile thereof; to impose fees and rentals for the use of sewers and other systems of drainage; to require and compel the connection of properties with the sewer mains or other systems of drainage; to accomplish the work necessary to be done upon failure or neglect of the owner and at his expense, and to impose fines and penalties for non-compliance; and to establish as a lien against the property affected, the cost and expense incident to the work necessary to be done in connecting properties, with interest, together with any fine or penalty imposed.
(0) To provide for supplying the Town and its inhabitants with potable and uncontaminated water; to construct, improve, extend, enlarge and maintain such works, plants and instrumentalities as may be necessary or convenient for supplying water; to provide for the installation of water meters; to fix and regulate the rates for the use of water; to compel properties to be connected with the water mains; to provide fines and penalties for non-compliance; to accomplish the connection of properties with water mains at the expense of the owner of the property upon his neglect or refusal; and to establish as a lien against the property affected the cost and charges of making the connection, together with interest and fine or penalty; and to supply persons, factories and plants outside the limits of the Town with surplus water, and to fix the rates and charges therefor.
(10) To regulate and control, alter and change the course of natural water courses, runs, rivulets and other waters within the limits of the Town and within one mile thereof.
(11) To lay-out streets and fix the grade thereof on any land immediately contiguous to the boundary line of the Town and within one mile thereof.
(12) To prescribe the height, thickness of walls and the materials of all buildings, public or private, in the Town, and the mode of erecting and maintaining them; to fix building lines; to prescribe the extent of steps, porches, cellar doors and other inlets to buildings; to require the owner of public halls and other public buildings to provide safe and sufficient means of exit, and fire escapes; and to regulate the manner in which party walls and partition fences shall be constructed and maintained.
(13) To issue permits for the erection and repair of buildings, and to fix the charges therefor; and to provide for the punishment of persons who shall erect, or attempt to erect, or to repair any building or structure without first having obtained a permit therefor.
(14) To provide for the prevention and control of fire and fire hazards and to establish fire zones and areas.
(15) To zone or district the Town and to make provisions for zones and districts with respect to buildings and building materials, and generally to exercise all power vested in the legislative and administrative bodies of citizens and Towns under the Constitution and Laws of the State of Delaware.
(16) To provide electric current, gas and other substances and devices for supplying the Town and its inhabitants with light, heat and power, and for that purpose to enter into contracts with public utility companies; and to erect and maintain plants, works, lines, mains and other appurtenances for supplying light, heat and power to persons and places within and without the limits of the Town, and to fix the rates and charges therefor.
(17) To grant rights, franchises and privileges for the location, construction and operation of utilities in, upon and under any public street, square, thoroughfare, sidewalk, crossing, bridge, sewer, drain, wharf, pier or other place, upon such terms and conditions and for such time as may be determined by the affirmative vote of at least five (5) members of the Council, and subject to the approval of the Mayor.
(18) To license and to fix fees and charges for persons carrying on any business or practicing any profession within the limits of the Town; provided that persons engaged in the selling of milk and farm produce grown on the farm of the vendor may be excepted.
(19) To regulate the burial of the dead; to define and abate nuisances injurious to the public health or safety or intolerable to the inhabitants of the Town; and to prevent the introduction of infectious or contagious diseases within the limits of the Town or within one mile thereof.
(20) To provide for the collection of all money due to the Town from whatever source, where no provision is made herein for the collection thereof.
(21) To provide for the punishment of violations of ordinances by fine not exceeding One Hundred ($100.00) Dollars or imprisonment not exceeding thirty (30) days, or both.
(22) To prevent vice, drunkenness and immorality and to prevent gambling and fraudulent devices.
(23) To regulate and control the observance of the Sabbath Day.
(24) To restrain, license and regulate public sports, exhibitions, shows, parades, circuses and other public performances, amusements and games.
(25) To establish and regulate pounds and to restrain and impound any domestic or wild animal, bird, or fowl running at large and to authorize the destruction thereof; and to fix and collect charges for impounding.
(26) To require the registration of dogs and to impose taxes on owners or keepers of dogs.
(27) To regulate, license, restrain or require the removal of slaughter houses, wash houses, laundries, canning establishments, fertilizer plants, swine pens, privies, water closets, cesspools, and any activity, business or condition detrimental to the public health.
(28) To make and enforce sanitary regulations; to establish rules and regulations for the control of restaurants, eating houses, hotels and other places furnishing food or drink to the public.
(29) To enforce the removal of snow, ice, dirt or foreign substances from sidewalks and gutters by abutting owners or occupiers, and at their expense.
(30) To license, regulate or prohibit the business and activities of persons engaged in hawking, peddling and soliciting.
(31) To regulate and control the use of streets, lanes and alleys for the parking of vehicles and to provide and maintain public parking places and parking meter systems.
(32) To prohibit, remove and regulate the erection and maintenance of any encroachment, projection, or obstruction to any street or thoroughfare, or other public place, wharf, dock, sewer or drain.
(33) To establish, curb and grade lines, and to furnish the owners of property with such lines upon application, and to punish any person who shall disregard the curb and grade lines established, or who shall pave or attempt to pave, or to make any other improvement with respect to the curb and grade lines of the Town without first obtaining the authority therefor; and to denounce as a nuisance, punishable or abatable as other nuisances, any curb or pavement not in conformity with the curb and grade lines established.
(34) To provide for the payment of legitimate expenses of the corporation and for the annual payment through the medium of a sinking fund or otherwise of its bonded indebtedness now existing or hereafter created.
(35) To require the registration of real estate situated within the limits of the Town in such manner as to show the owner thereof and to facilitate the assessment of real estate for taxation.
(0) To change, from time to time, the limits of the several Wards of the Town, so that each shall have as nearly as possible an equal number of inhabitants.
(0) To establish residential requirements for members of the Police Force, Fire Department, and other employees of the Town.
(0) To levy annually a tax on telegraph, telephone, power and utility poles and appurtenances, gas mains and conduits either at a certain sum for each pole and appurtenance, or certain length of main or conduit, or upon the fair and reasonable value of the poles, appurtenances, mains and conduits.
(1) To borrow money in anticipation of revenues for the current expenses of the Town not in excess of Twenty Thousand ($20,000.00) Dollars, and to issue notes, or certificates of indebtedness therefor.
(2) To require any officer or employee of the Town to give security for the performance of duty in such amount and upon such conditions as may be necessary and proper.
(3) To establish such offices, employments and departments of government as may be necessary, proper or convenient for the management, control and superintendence of streets and thoroughfares, parking meter system, water system, sewer system, and other facilities of the Town, to prescribe the duties thereof, and to fix salaries or compensations.
(4) To lease, sell, convey, or otherwise dispose of any property, real or personal belonging to the Town.
(43) To provide for the purchase of property, or rendition of services at and by competitive bidding, and the awarding of contracts to the lowest responsible bidder.
(44) To exempt from taxation for a period of not more than ten (10) years, persons or corporations who shall desire to promote and establish any enterprise in the Town and shall initially expend therein an amount not less than Fifty Thousand ($50,000.00) Dollars.
Section 7. Form of government--term of office--vacancies --removal from office--salaries--quorum of council.
For the government of the Town of Laurel there shall be a Mayor and a Council of seven (7) members, to be elected by the qualified voters of the Town at biennial municipal elections as hereinafter provided. The Mayor and members of Council shall be freeholders and qualified voters of the Town; and in the Council the legislative power of the corporation is vested.
The term of office of the Mayor shall be two (2) years, the term of office of a member of Council shall be four (4) years, and all terms of office shall begin on the first Tuesday in April next following the election.
Four members of the Council shall be nominated and elected from the several Wards in which they reside, and three members shall be nominated and elected from the Town at large. No more than two Councilmen shall be nominated and elected from any one Ward, and if, at any time, by removal from a Ward or change of Ward limits, or otherwise, more than two members of Council shall become residents of the same Ward, the term of office of that member last becoming a resident of the Ward shall terminate and the office shall become vacant; and if the Mayor or any member of the Council shall cease to be a resident of the Town, the term of office shall end, and the office become vacant.
If a vacancy, for whatever cause, shall occur in the office of Mayor, the Council, by vote of a majority of all the members, shall elect a qualified person to serve as Mayor until the next general municipal election.
If a vacancy, for whatever cause, shall occur in the office of Councilman within two years from the time of the election and qualification of the member, the Mayor, subject to the approval of a majority of the remaining members of the Council, shall appoint a qualified person to serve as Councilman until the next general municipal election, at which election a qualified person shall be elected to serve for the remainder of the term for which the member was elected; and if the vacancy shall occur more than two years after the election and qualification of the member, the Mayor, subject to like approval of the Council, shall appoint a qualified person to serve for the remainder of the term.
The Mayor may be removed from office for any willful violation of his duties under this Charter, or for the commitment of any crime or misdemeanor punishable under the laws of this State or of the United States, by the affirmative vote of at least five members of the Council, but only upon written specifications of the offense delivered to him at least six days prior to a day to be fixed by the Council for public hearing, at which he may be represented by Counsel.
For like causes, and in the same manner, a member of Council may be removed from office by the affirmative vote of five (5) of the members of the Council, excluding the member under charge.
For reasonable cause, the Mayor may suspend from office for a period not exceeding thirty (30) days, any person appointed by him, and may remove such person from office with the approval of a majority of all the members of the Council; and upon the address of at least five (5) members of the Council, the Mayor shall remove from office any person appointed by him.
Before an order of removal from office shall become effective, the person under charge shall have an opportunity to be heard before the Council in public session.
The Mayor shall receive such salary or compensation as shall be determined by the Council, which shall not be diminished during the term for which he was elected.
Each member of the Council shall receive an annual salary of Fifty ($50.00) Dollars.
The Council shall be the judge of the qualifications and elections of its members; and it shall prescribe all rules of order for the conduct of the affairs of the Town.
Five (5) members of the Council shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of all business, subject, however, to the provisions of this Charter in respect of the number of affirmative votes required in particular cases.
The Council shall cause to be kept a journal of its acts and proceedings.
The meetings of the Council shall be public, except during such time as the Council shall deem it advisable to discuss any matter in executive session; but no vote or ballot shall be taken by the Council upon any matter before it except in public session.
Section 8. Ordinances and resolutions.
Every legislative act of the Council shall be by ordinance. No ordinance shall be passed unless a bill shall have been regularly introduced and had two readings, one of which shall be at a meeting previous to the meeting at which the ordinance shall be passed. On the final passage of a bill the vote shall be taken by yeas and nays, and the members voting for and against it shall be entered on the journal. No ordinance shall be passed without the concurrence of a majority of all the members of the Council. Ordinances granting franchises shall not be passed without an affirmative vote of five (5) of the members of the Council, nor within thirty days after its introduction.
Every ordinance, after it shall have been enrolled, shall be signed by the President, and within two days thereafter shall be presented to the Mayor by the Town Clerk for approval or disapproval. If the Mayor shall return the ordinance without his approval, the Council shall proceed to re-consider it. The objections of the Mayor to the ordinance shall be stated in writing, and shall be entered in the Journal. If, after consideration of the ordinance, the Council by vote of at least five (5) members shall agree to pass it, the ordinance shall become an ordinance of the Town as fully and to all intents and purposes as if it had been approved by the Mayor, otherwise it shall be inoperative.
The action of the Council shall be certified on the ordinance by the President of the Council.
Every ordinance that shall not be returned to the Council by the Mayor within ten (10) days after it shall have been presented to him, shall become an ordinance as valid and effective as if it had been approved by him.
All ordinances, rules, resolutions and regulations passed by the Council shall be preserved by the Town Clerk and recorded at length in a suitable book kept for that purpose.
All ordinances of a general or permanent nature and those imposing a fine or penalty shall be advertised at least twice in a newspaper of general circulation published in the Town of Laurel.
The Council shall not pass any ordinance exempting any individual from the operation of any general ordinance or municipal regulation,.nor shall it have power to pass any ordinance providing for the expenditure of money in any fiscal year in excess of the amount received from taxes, water rents, sewer charges and other miscellaneous receipts of the Town for such year, except such sum as may be necessary for the replacing or repairing of the properties or works of the corporation injured or destroyed through casualty or calamity.
A member of the Council who has a personal or private interest in any measure or proposal pending before it shall publicly disclose the fact to the members and shall not vote thereon, nor, except by permission, take part in the discussion thereof.
If such interested member shall vote without publicly disclosing his interest in the measure, ordinance or proposal, and it shall be carried by his vote, such measure, ordinance, bill or proposal shall be void and shall be so declared by the Council.
The printed or typewritten copies of the ordinances, resolutions and regulations of the Council published by the authority of the Council, shall be admitted as evidence in all Courts.
Section 9. Eminent domain
Whenever the corporation shall determine it to be necessary, proper or convenient to acquire any land, or interest therein, building, franchise, right, easement, sand, earth, gravel or other property for locating, laying out, widening, altering or otherwise improving streets or thoroughfares, for additions to and the extension of sewers and drains, sewage disposal plants, for any public utility furnishing light, heat, power or water and accessories thereto, mains, docks, wharves, piers, bulkheads, public parks, playgrounds, or for any other municipal purpose, within the corporate limits of the Town or within one mile thereof, and the corporation cannot agree with the owner for the acquirement thereof by purchase, it shall have the right and power to enter upon and condemn such property for public use in accordance with the provisions of Chapter 271, Volume 48, Laws of Delaware, establishing a uniform procedure for the condemnation of property under the power of eminent domain; and the provisions of the Act and amendments thereto are adopted as a part of this Charter.
Section 10. Liens, how established and foreclosed.
Liens on real property for the non-payment of taxes, for the proportional part of the expense for improvement of streets, for the expense of paving, curbing or guttering, for the expense of connecting property with water or sewer mains of the Town, and for any other charge or expense imposed upon owners of property by this Charter, or by ordinance duly enacted, shall be established in the following manner:
A certificate signed by the Mayor, attested by the Town Clerk and under the corporate seal shall be prepared, containing therein, with respect to unpaid taxes, the name of the taxable and his last known post office address, a description of the property subject to the tax sufficient readily to identify it, the amount of tax in arrears and the year or years of the levy of the tax, the date from which interest is to be calculated, and the date on which an itemized bill of taxes was sent to the taxable; and, with respect to unpaid charges other than taxes, the certificate shall be in the same general form, and shall contain the name of the owner of the property and last known post office address, a description of the property subject to lien sufficient readily to identify it, an itemization of the charges or expenses, the date when the work was begun and when finished, the date from which interest is to be calculated, and the date when an itemized bill for the charges and expenses was sent to or delivered to the owner of the property.
The certificate shall be recorded in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds for Sussex County in the Mortgage Records of the Office and shall be properly indexed.
The amount of money shown by the Certificate to be due and owing, with interest and penalty, if any, shall be collected by foreclosure of the lien in the same manner and by the same procedure and subject to the same rules of the Superior Court relative to pleading and practice as are provided for the foreclosure of a mortgage on real property and with the same costs and charges, together with a collection charge not exceeding five percentum of the amount of the lien with interest.
Section 11. Streets, facilities and instrumentalities.
Upon petition, or upon its own initiative, the corporation is vested with the power and authority to locate, lay-out, open, re-open, establish, widen, extend, grade, repair, pave, curb, supervise, manage and regulate the use of streets and thoroughfares and all other public property, facilities and instrumentalities; and by ordinance to establish all necessary and proper rules, regulations and methods of procedure for the accomplishment of said objects and purposes, and the establishment of liens against real property.
Section 12. Special street improvement.
Upon the petition of a majority of persons owning property along any street or thoroughfare, or portion thereof, praying that such street or thoroughfare, or portion thereof, between the curb lines, be permanently improved, the Council may, by ordinance or resolution, direct the improvement to be made, the expense thereof to be assessed against the owners of the abutting properties, as follows: twenty-five percentum of the expense to be paid by the owners of said abutting properties and the remainder of the expense to be paid by the Town.
Each owner of abutting property shall be assessed and charged with his proper share of the twenty-five percentum of the total expense according to the frontage of the property of the owner abutting the street and the amount of the assessment shall constitute a debt owing to the Town by the property owner to be collected as other debts due the Town, and may be established as a lien upon the property in accordance with the provisions of this Charter.
In making improvements under this Section the Council shall determine and designate the character of the improvement and the materials to be used, notwithstanding the petitioners may have designated a particular kind of material in their petition; and in any one street there shall be a uniformity of the character of the improvement and the kind or class of materials used.
Section 13. Vacation of streets.
Whenever the corporation shall determine that any street or thoroughfare or part thereof, within the limits of the Town, is unnecessary, and should be vacated, the proceeding for vacating shall be as follows:
The corporation shall submit to the Superior Court of Sussex County, or to any Judge thereof resident in Sussex County, a petition setting forth with particularity the street or thoroughfare, or part thereof, sought to be vacated, and the name or names of the owner or owners of land abutting thereon. The petition shall be signed by the Mayor, attested by the Town Clerk and with the seal of the corporation affixed thereto.
Notice of the intended application shall be given in writing to the abutting owners of property at least five (5) days before the application is made stating the day, hour and place, and if the owner is unknown or without the State or under legal disability and having no legal representative in the State, such notice shall be published in a newspaper in the Town of Laurel at least five (5) days prior to the intended application.
The Court, or Judge, upon presentation of the petition and proof of notice, shall make an order appointing a Commission of three (3) suitable persons to view the street or thoroughfare, or part thereof, sought to be vacated, and make return to the Court or Judge on a day and hour stated in the Order.
The direction in the Order shall be that if it be determined that the street or thoroughfare, or part thereof, is unnecessary and ought to be vacated the Commission shall so determine and report who shall enclose the same, or any part thereof, what portion of the costs the abutting owners shall pay, and the damages to abutting owners, if any.
If the Commission shall report that the street or thoroughfare, or part thereof, should be vacated, the Court or Judge shall enter an Order of Vacation, and shall state therein the time within which the damage, if any be awarded, shall be paid, and who shall enclose the street or part of the street so vacated.
At the return day of the Order any abutting owner who shall be dissatisfied with the award of damage may by petition pray an appeal, and thereupon the Court or Judge shall fix a day for hearing upon the claim for damage, at which time evidence shall be heard, view of the premises taken if necessary, and all pertinent facts presented to the Court or Judge; and the Court or Judge shall award such damage, or no damage, as the evidence shall warrant. The corporation may accept the award of damage if any be made, either by the Commission or Court or Judge, or may abandon the proceeding.
The cost of the proceeding to vacate shall be paid by the Town. If an appeal be taken, the costs incident to the appeal shall be paid by the appellant, unless damages be awarded or increased, or the proceeding be abandoned, in which case the costs shall be paid by the Town.
If the person to whom damage shall be awarded shall refuse to accept the award the Town shall deposit the amount of the
award to the credit of such person in any bank or trust company in the Town of Laurel.
The Petition, Order, return and other records shall be filed in the Office of the Prothonotary for Sussex County.
Section 14. Paving and curbing powers.
The corporation is empowered to compel the paving or repaving, and the curbing or recurbing of streets at the expense of the adjoining or abutting owners of property; and, upon the written petition of five (5) or more freeholders of the Town, or at the direction of the Council, the Town Clerk shall direct in writing the owner of any real estate in the Town of Laurel before, along, in front of, or adjoining which a pavement is de-. sired to be laid, to curb and lay a pavement, or either or both, of such materials and of such length, width and thickness as may be specified. The notice shall give other necessary and proper information and directions for the performance of the work, the time for the completion thereof and that the curb and grade lines will be furnished upon application of the owner.
If any owner of property shall neglect or refuse to comply with the notice for the space of thirty (30) days the corporation may proceed to have the work done, and when completed the Town Clerk shall present to the owner of said land a bill showing in detail the expense of such paving or curbing, or either, or both. If the owner shall not reside in the Town of Laurel such bill may be presented to the occupier or tenant of the property or, if there be no occupier or tenant, the bill may be sent by mail to the owner directed to him at his last known post office address. If the bill be not paid within thirty (30) days after the date of presentation or sending, the corporation may issue a warrant under the hand of the Mayor and under the corporate seal directed to the Town Clerk commanding him that of the goods and chattels of such owner he shall cause to be levied and made the amount of the bill, together with all costs, and it shall then be the duty of the Town Clerk after ten (10) days' notice to the owner to proceed to sell the goods and chattels, or a sufficient part thereof, as may be necessary to pay the amount of the bill together with all costs; or the Council may direct the Town Clerk to bring suit for the recovery of such amount before any Court of competent jurisdiction.
The amount of the expense and all costs and penalties as may be provided, with interest, shall constitute a lien upon all the real property of the owner situated within the limits of the Town, and shall be subject to any lien or encumbrance suffered or made by the owner prior to the commencement of the work.
If any property shall be held or owned by a widow as tenant in dower or by any life tenant, the expense incurred under this Section shall be paid by the owner of the reversion in fee simple.
Section 15. Borrowing of money and issuance of Bonds.--Limitation of bonded indebtedness.
The corporation may borrow money, and to secure the payment thereof, is empowered to issue bonds, or other kinds or forms of certificate or certificates of indebtedness pledging the full faith and credit of the municipality, or such other security as the Council shall elect, for the payment of the principal and interest thereof; and all bonds or other forms of certificates of indebtedness or security so issued shall be exempt from all State, County or Municipal taxes.
The power to borrow money shall be exercised to provide funds for or to provide for the payment of any of the following purposes:
(1) Refunding outstanding bonds or other indebtedness of the Town at the maturity thereof, or in accordance with any callable provision contained therein.
(2) Meeting or defraying current annual operating expenses of the Town in an amount equal to but not in excess of currently outstanding due and unpaid taxes, water rents, sewer service charges, license fees or other charges due the Town and available when paid, for meeting or defraying current annual operating expenses of the Town.
(3) Erecting, extending, enlarging, maintaining and repairing any plant, building, machinery or equipment for the manufacture, supplying or distribution of gas, water, electricity, sewer or drainage system, sewage disposal plant, or any of them, and the condemning or purchasing of any lands, easements and rights of way which may be required therefor.
(4) Constructing, paving, laying out, widening, extending, repairing and maintaining streets, lanes, alleys and ways and the constructing, extending, repairing and maintaining, curbing and guttering along the same, and the condemning or purchasing of any lands, easements or rights of way which may be required therefor.
(5) Constructing, extending, repairing and maintaining sidewalks, crosswalks, bulkheads, piers and wharves, or any of them, and the condemning or purchasing of any lands, easements or rights of way which may be required therefor.
(6) Defraying the costs of the Town or any other municipal improvement provided for or authorized or implied by and under the provisions of this Charter.
Where the power to borrow money and to issue bonds or certificates of indebtedness is sought to be exercised for the purpose of refunding any or all outstanding bonds or other indebtedness of the City at a rate of interest equal to or less than the indebtedness sought to be refunded, and in all instances provided for in subparagraph (2) above, it shall not be necessary to call a Special Election to secure approval of such borrowing.
In all other instances the power to borrow money and to secure the payment thereof for any other purpose or purposes above specified shall be exercised only in the following manner:
The Council shall adopt a resolution proposing to the taxables of the Town that money be borrowed for any of the above named purposes. The resolution shall plainly set forth the following matters:
(1) The maximum amount of money proposed to be borrowed
(2) The maximum rate of interest proposed to be paid.
(3) The manner in which it is proposed to be secured.
(4) The manner in which it is proposed to be paid, or funded, or both.
(5) A description of the purpose or purposes for which the money shall be used which shall include the estimated cost of carrying out the purpose.
(6) A statement of the time and place for a public hearing upon the resolution, at which the Council shall vote upon the final authorization of the loan.
It shall be the duty of the Town Clerk to give notice of the time and place of such public hearing upon the resolution by publishing a copy of the resolution in at least one issue of a newspaper published in the Town of Laurel at least one week before the time fixed for the hearing, and by posting copies thereof in five public places throughout the Town at least one week before the time fixed for the hearing.
At the time and place stated in the notice, the Council shall sit in public session, and at such public session or an adjourned session thereof, shall vote upon a resolution giving its final authorization for the loan. If such resolution shall be adopted by the Council, then the Council shall pass a second resolution ordering and directing that a Special Election be held in the Town of Laurel not less than thirty (30), nor more than sixty (60) days after the date of the hearing and passage of the resolution authorizing the loan.
The Town Clerk shall give notice of the time and place for holding the said Special Election to all the taxables of the Town of Laurel by posting notices thereof in five public places in the Town at least two weeks prior to the day fixed for such Special Election, and by publishing a copy of such notice once each week for at least two weeks prior to the day fixed for holding the Special Election. Such notice shall contain the same information with respect to the borrowing of money as is required to be contained in the original resolution proposing the borrowing, excepting a statement of the time and place for the public hearing upon the resolution.
The Special Election shall be conducted by an Election Board whose members shall be appointed or selected in the same manner and they shall have the same qualifications as herein provided in the case of General Municipal Elections of the Town.
At least five (5) days prior to the date of the Special Election, the Council shall cause to be prepared, printed and have available for distribution, a sufficient number of ballots, upon one-half of which shall be printed the words, "FOR THE PROPOSED BORROWING" and upon one-half of which shall be printed the words "AGAINST THE PROPOSED BORROWING".
At such Special Election every taxable of the Town of Laurel, who shall not be in arrears in payment of taxes for ten days prior to the day of the Election, shall be entitled to one vote for every dollar and fractional part of a dollar of tax paid, or to be paid by him, according to the last annual assessment of property. Where a given property is owned by more than one person, each parcener shall be entitled to cast as many votes as his interest in the property is related to the total number of votes which may be cast in the name of all the owners of such property, provided that where property is owned by husband and wife as tenants by the entireties, either the husband or the wife may cast the entire vote representative of the tax paid upon such property, depending upon which shall first present himself or herself at the polling place.
The Inspector of the Election shall deposit all ballots in the ballot box provided for the purpose and in the presence of the persons casting the ballot, the Inspector first writing upon the outside of the ballot the number of votes being cast by the person casting the ballot.
The Town Clerk shall attend the Special Election with his books and records showing persons in arrears in the payment of taxes.
Immediately upon the closing of the polls the Election Board shall count the votes FOR and AGAINST the proposed borrowing, shall announce the result thereof publicly and shall make a certificate under their hands of the number of votes cast FOR and AGAINST the proposed borrowing and shall deliver such certificate in duplicate to the Council. One copy of the certificate shall be entered in the minutes of the Council at its next meeting, and the other copy shall be filed with the Town Clerk.
The form of the bonds or certificates of indebtedness, and the attached coupons, if any, the time or times of payment, the time or times of the payment of interest, the rate of interest, the classes, the series, the maturities, the registration, any callable or redeemable provision, the denomination and name and other relative or pertinent matters shall all be determined by the Council. The bond or bonds or certificates of indebtedness shall be offered for sale to the best and most responsible bidder therefor after advertisement in a newspaper published in the Town of Laurel and otherwise, if the Council shall deem it necessary, for at least fifteen (15) days before offering them for sale; provided, that money may be borrowed to meet current expenses as hereinbefore provided, at public or private sale without first advertising the offer of any such bonds or certificates of indebtedness for sale.
All bonds or certificates of indebtedness forming the single issue need not be offered for sale at a single sale, but any given issue of bonds or certificates of indebtedness may be advertised and sold in whole or in part, from time to time, until the entire authorized issue be disposed of.
The Council shall provide in its budget, and in the fixing of the tax rate or otherwise, for the payment of the principal of the bonds or certificates of indebtedness at the maturity thereof, together with the interest due or which may become due thereon, and in a proper case, shall also provide a sinking fund therefor.
Unless the bonds or certificates of indebtedness shall otherwise provide, the faith and credit of the municipality shall be deemed to be pledged for the due payment of any bond or certificate of indebtedness and interest thereon according to its terms, when and after the same has been duly and properly executed, delivered and value received therefor.
In no event shall the indebtedness of the Town of Laurel, for any and all purposes, at any one time exceed, in the aggregate, fifteen percentum of the assessed value of all real property situated within the limits of the Town, and subject to assessment for the purpose of annual taxation.
Section 16. Security for bonded indebtedness.
In all instances whereby prior Act of Legislature authorizing the borrowing of money and the issuance of bonds, sewer service charges, water rentals or other municipal income has been pledged or devoted to the due payment of interest or the principal and interest on the bonds or the creation of a sinking fund for the redemption thereof, such charges, rentals and income shall not be used, expended, applied or disbursed for any other object or purpose while the bonds, or any part thereof, shall remain unpaid.
Section 17. Nomination of candidates for office.
The nomination of candidates for elective offices shall be by petition.
Every aspirant for the office of Mayor, Councilman-at-large and Councilman, or someone in his behalf, shall, at least ten (10) days before the day of the biennial municipal election file with the Town Clerk a nominating petition. The nominating petition for the office of Mayor shall be signed by at least thirty (30) qualified voters of the Town; for the office of Councilman-at-large by at least twenty (20) qualified voters of the Town; and for the office of Ward Councilman, by at least fifteen (15) qualified voters of the Ward. No signature shall be counted if it shall be on the petition of more than one candidate for the same office.
The form of the nominating petition shall be substantially as follows:
We, the undersigned, qualified voters of the Town of Laurel (or qualified voters of Ward Number ________, hereby nominate__________ for the office of ___ to be voted for at the Regular Municipal Election to be held on the second Tuesday in March in the year; and we individually certify that we are qualified to vote for a candidate for the office named at such Election.
The Council shall be the judge of the sufficiency of the petitions and of the candidate's nominating petition, and within three days after the last day for the filing of petitions, the Council shall sit in open meeting to judge the qualifications of candidates and the sufficiency of the petitions;
Notice of the day, hour and place of the sitting of the Council shall be advertised in a newspaper published in the Town at least one week before the day of the sitting of the Council.
Section 18. General municipal elections--Qualifications of voters.
The general election for all municipal officers to be elected hereunder shall be held biennially on the second Tuesday in March between the hours of twelve o'clock noon, and six o'clock in the afternoon, Eastern Standard Time or Daylight Saving Time, whichever shall be in force at the time of the election.
The place of election shall be at the Municipal Building unless, for sufficient cause, some other public place shall be designated by the Council.
Due notice of the time and place of the election and of the offices to be filled and the candidates therefor, including the number of the Ward in which the candidate for Councilman-at-large shall reside, shall be given by advertisement in a newspaper published in the Town of Laurel, and by posting notices in five of the most public places within the corporate limits of the Town not less than one week before the day of the election.
Every person, male or female, above the age of twenty-one years, who shall have been a bona fide resident of the State of Delaware at least one year and a bona fide resident within the corporate limits of the Town for at least three months immediately preceding the election, and who shall have paid all property or poll taxes levied or assessed against him or her at least ten days before the day of the election, not counting the day of the election, shall be eligible to vote.
The Town Clerk shall attend the election with a list of all persons whose personal or poll tax shall not have been paid at least ten days before the day of the election, and such persons shall not be entitled to vote unless he or she shall produce A receipt for taxes paid at least ten days prior to the day of election.
The election shall be by ballot, the form of which shall be prescribed by the Council. If more than one person residing in the same Ward shall become candidates for the office of Councilman-at-large, the qualified voter of the Town shall be entitled to vote for only one of the candidates, so that no one Ward of the Town shall be represented by more than two Councilmen. The number or numbers of the Ward in which the said candidate for the office of Councilman-at-large shall be designated on the ballots, which shall contain a direction to vote for one of the candidates only, and a direction to indicate the choice of the voter. A ballot containing the names of more than one of the said candidates for said office shall not be counted.
The Town Clerk shall provide all ballots, ballot boxes, poll books, tally sheets, certificates, blanks and other necessary stationery, and all booths and arrangements necessary and proper for conducting the election.
The election shall be held under the supervision of an election board, which shall consist of one inspector and two judges, all of whom shall be qualified voters of the Town, and shall be appointed for that purpose by the Mayor with the approval of a majority of the Council at least two weeks before the election. If, at the opening of the polls, there shall not be present the three members of the Board, or any of them, the persons qualified to vote at the election and then present at the opening of the polls shall select, viva voce, a qualified voter or voters to act as a member or members of the election board. The Board shall be the judges of the election and shall decide upon the legality of the votes offered. The board shall keep a true and accurate list of all voters voting.
All votes shall be offered in person; and if a majority of the board shall not be satisfied that any person offering to vote possesses the qualifications of a qualified voter as prescribed herein, the Board shall receive the ballot and shall not count it, and shall return it in a separate package to the Council with the name of the person presenting the ballot.
Upon the close of the election, the votes shall be read and counted publicly and the person having the highest number of votes for each office shall be declared to be duly elected, and such persons shall continue in office during the term for which they were chosen, or until their successors shall be duly elected or appointed and qualified.
The board shall enter in a book to be provided for that purpose a minute of the election containing the names of the persons chosen. They shall subscribe the same, and shall make and deliver to the persons elected certificates of their election. The book containing such minutes shall be preserved and shall be evidence in any Court of law or equity.
If two or more candidates for the office of Councilman or for Mayor shall receive an equal number of votes so that there shall not be an election of a Mayor or Councilman, the election board shall determine the tie by lot.
Section 19. Organization meeting of the council--President of council.
The Council shall meet for organization in the municipal building at 7:30 o'clock P. M. on the first Tuesday in April following the biennial municipal election, at which time officers elected at said election shall assume their several offices, first taking and subscribing the oath of office.
The Council shall elect one of their number to serve as President of the Council for a term of two years, and a temporary Secretary.
At this meeting, or at an adjourned meeting, the Council shall, by a vote of a majority of the members, approve the appointments to office submitted by the Mayor; and may transact such other business as may be necessary or proper.
Section 20. Regular meetings of council.
Regular meetings of the Council shall be held in the Municipal Building, at such time or times, as the Council shall determine by ordinance or resolution.
All meetings of the Council shall be public, except during such time as the Council shall deem it advisable to discuss any matter in executive session; but no vote or ballot shall be taken upon any question or matter except in open session.
Section 21. Special meetings.
Special Meetings of the Council may be called at any time by the Mayor, and shall be called in like manner upon request in writing of two members of the Council. The objects and purposes of any Special Meeting shall be set forth in the call therefor, and notice of the day, hour and purpose of the meeting shall be given to each member of the Council in writing at least two days before the day fixed for the meeting.
When a Special Meeting shall be held, the call for such meeting shall be set out in full on the journal, and no business other than that stated in the call shall be transacted at such meeting except by unanimous consent.
Section 22. Oath of office.
The Mayor, members of Council, Town Clerk, members of the Board of Assessment, the Alderman, and other officers or employees of the Town, if required so to do by ordinance or resolution of the Council, shall be severally sworn or affirmed to support the Constitution of the United States, the Constitution of the State of Delaware, and to perform the duties of office with fidelity. The oath of office may be administered by the Mayor, a Notary Public or a qualified member of the Council, and a minute of the oath so taken shall be entered upon the records of the Council.
Section 23. Mayor.
The general executive power of the corporation is vested in the Mayor.
He is constituted a conservator of the peace within the limits of the Town, and it shall be his duty to cause the laws of the State and the ordinances of the Town to be enforced.
He shall see that all contracts and agreements made with the corporation, or for its use and benefit are performed; and, with the approval of the Council, he shall cause such legal and equitable proceedings as may be necessary to be instituted and prosecuted by the Town Solicitor; and he shall have such other powers as may be imposed upon him or granted to him herein, or by ordinance.
He shall have the custody of the seal of the corporation and the sole right to affix it to any paper or document required to be sealed. He shall, as Mayor, sign all deeds, bonds, licenses, contracts, agreements and other documents for and on behalf of the corporation; and he may revoke any license granted after due hearing and with the approval of a majority of the members of the Council.
It shall be the duty of the Mayor to communicate to the Council at least annually a statement of the finances and general condition of the corporation, together with such information and recommendations as may be necessary and proper, or which the Council may require.
He shall, on or before the organization meeting of the Council in April, appoint the Town Clerk, Town Solicitor, Alderman, Board of Health, Board of Assessment, Chief of Police and assistants or subordinates, Chief of the Fire Department and assistants or subordinates, and such other officers of the corporation as may be provided herein or by ordinance of the Council, subject, however, to the approval of a majority of all of the members thereof; and the persons so appointed shall hold the several offices until the expiration of the term of office of the Mayor making the appointments, unless sooner removed as is herein provided.
If the Mayor shall be temporarily absent from the Town, or temporarily unable to discharge the duties of the office, the office shall be administered by the President of the Council, provided, however, that the President of the Council shall not have the power to appoint to or remove from office unless the absence or inability of the Mayor shall continue for more than thirty days.
Section 24. Town clerk.
The Town Clerk shall not be a member of the Council. He shall give corporate bond to the corporation in an amount fixed by it conditioned for the faithful performance of his duties, the payment to the Town of all money coming into his hands as Town Clerk from whatever source derived, and in the event of death, resignation or removal -from office, the delivery to his successor of all papers, books, records and other property of the Town in his hands or under his control.
The expense of the bond shall be paid by the Town.
He shall receive as compensation for his services an annual salary to be fixed, from time to time, by ordinance or resolution of Council, payable in equal weekly installments.
He shall attend all meetings of the Council and act as Secretary thereof, keeping proper and adequate minutes of its acts and proceedings; and he shall be in attendance at his office on such days and between such hours as may be directed by ordinance or resolution of the Council.
He shall keep a record of all officers, agents and employees of the Town, when elected or appointed, the term of office or employment, if a term be fixed, and the salary or compensation thereof.
He shall keep the assessment books and tax records of the Town with the names of the taxpayers arranged alphabetically showing the capitum tax, a short description and assessed value of each parcel of real estate and a short description of each item of personal property assessed, if any. He shall also keep and maintain proper books and records showing the names of persons charged with water rentals or sewer service charges and detailed account thereof.
He shall collect all taxes, license fees, water rentals, sewer service charges, parking meter payments and all other money due to be paid to the Town under the provisions of this Charter, or as prescribed by ordinance or resolution of the Council; and he shall keep separate, full and accurate accounts of all money received and due to be paid to the Town.
He shall keep full and accurate accounts of all money paid out for or on account of the Water Department, Sewer Department and other departments and agencies of the Town together with proper vouchers.
He shall act as treasurer of the Town, and shall promptly deposit in such bank or trust company doing business in the Town as may be designated as depository by ordinance or resolution of Council all money received by him, and, as directed by ordinance or resolution, keep and maintain separate accounts of moneys received from taxes, water rentals, sewer service charges, parking meter charges, or otherwise.
At a regular monthly meeting of the Council he shall be prepared to render to the Council a true and detailed account of all money collected or received by him in the performance of his duties, and of all moneys disbursed for and on account of the Town and its agencies and departments; and all books, records and documents showing the receipt and disbursement of money shall be open to inspection by the Mayor and any member of Council at any time.
At least thirty (30) days prior to the biennial municipal election he shall prepare and post in his office a list of all taxables who are then in arrears in the payment of taxes.
He shall perform such other duties as may be provided by this Charter, or as prescribed by ordinance or resolution of the Council.
Section 25. Town solicitor.
The Town Solicitor shall be a member of the bar of the State of Delaware with offices in Sussex County. It shall be his duty to give legal advice to the Mayor, the Council and other officers of the Town, and to perform such other legal services as may be required of him. He shall be paid an annual retaining fee to be fixed by the Council and reasonable fees and charges for his services.
Section 26. Alderman.
It shall be his duty to execute all ordinances and resolutions enacted for the government of the Town and the directions of the Council made in pursuance of any law of the State.
He shall have all the powers of a Justice of the Peace within the Town, and jurisdiction over and cognizance of all breaches of the peace and other offenses committed within the Town so far as to arrest and hold to bail, or to fine and imprison offenders, and also of fines, forfeitures and penalties prescribed and imposed by any law of this State or by ordinance duly enacted; provided, that he shall impose no fine in excess of One Hundred ($100.00) Dollars, or a term of imprisonment of more than thirty (30) days.
He shall also have all the power and jurisdiction of matters of civil nature as are vested in Justices of the Peace of Sussex County in such matters as the Town is interested, with the same limitation in amount of claim as is imposed upon Justices of the Peace, and with the same right and procedure of and upon appeal.
His fees for any service as Alderman shall be the same as those of a Justice of the Peace for like services and for any service for which no fee is prescribed by law, the fee may be established by ordinance.
A vacancy in the office of Alderman for any cause shall be filled by the Mayor for the residue of the term.
Upon the expiration of term of office, or upon removal from office, or upon death while in office he or his executor or administrator, shall within one week after the appointment of a successor, deliver to the successor all books, records and documents belonging to the office, and pay to the Town Clerk all money belonging to the Town within ten days; and neglect or failure to make such payment shall constitute a misdemeanor punishable by a fine not exceeding one hundred ($100.00) dollars; and he, or his estate shall be liable in a civil action for the amount of money due to be paid to the Town.
The Alderman shall pay to the town Clerk all fines and penalties not later than thirty (3) days after the receipt thereof, and default in making such payment shall constitute cause for removal from office. He shall report to the Council at least monthly all fines and penalties received by him during the preceding month, and the report shall be compared with the reports made to the Town Clerk and adjusted and corrected.
Section 27. Prosecutions.
All prosecutions for the violation of ordinances, rules, orders and regulations of the Town shall be before the Alderman, or before any Justice of the Peace of the State of Delaware, resident in the Town of Laurel, and shall be in the name of the State of Delaware upon complaint of Mayor and Council of Laurel.
Section 28. Board of health.
A Board of Health shall consist of three members, residents in the Town of Laurel one of whom shall be a practicing physician with offices in the Town. The Board shall organize by the election of one of its members as president, and one as secretary. The secretary shall keep the minutes of the Board and shall perform such duties as may be assigned to him. He shall be the executive officer of the Board for which he shall receive such compensation as may be fixed by the Council.
The Board of Health shall have cognizance of all matters relating to the health and sanitation of the Town. It shall make such recommendations to Council as may be necessary and proper to safeguard the health of the people of the Town and its sanitation; and it shall be subject to all the laws of the State of Delaware relating to local Boards of Health.
Section 29. Fire department.
The Fire Department of the Town shall consist of a Chief of the Department and such other assistants and subordinates as may be determined by the Council. The Council shall fix, from time to time, the salaries or other compensations of the members.
The Council, in consultation with the Chief of the Department, shall make and establish all rules and regulations for the management and control of the Department; and subject to such rules and regulations the Chief of the Department shall have charge and control of the Department and of all machinery and equipment belonging thereto. He shall put into effect such proper system of fire alarms as may be established; and he shall inspect, from time to time, the equipment of the Department and make report to the Mayor any defect in or lack of equipment.
On or before the first day of April in each year he shall submit to the Mayor, who shall lay it before the Council, a report of the number of fires occurring during the preceding year and the causes thereof, if ascertainable, the number of fires attended whether occurring within or without the limits of the Town, and he shall make such recommendations for the betterment of the Department as he may deem necessary or proper.
Section 30. Police.
The police force of the Town shall consist of a Chief of Police and such other members or subordinates as the Council may, from time to time, determine.
Rules and regulations for the organization and government of the police force and the salaries and compensations of its members shall be made by the Council by ordinance or resolution.
The Chief of Police and other members of the police force shall be conservators of the peace, and within the limits of the Town and within one mile thereof, shall be vested with all the powers and authority of a constable of Sussex County, and in the case of a pursuit of an offender their power and authority shall be within the territorial limits of the State of Delaware.
It shall be the duty of the members of the force to preserve peace and good order and compel obedience, within the limits of the Town, and within one mile thereof, if necessary, to the ordinances of the Town and the Laws of the State of Delaware.
Persons sentenced to imprisonment for the violation of ordinances of the Town shall be delivered to the County Jail of Sussex County, or to the lock-up or jail of the Town, there to be imprisoned for the term of the sentence.
It shall be the duty of the Chief of Police annually, or as directed by the Council, on or before the first day of April, to submit a report to the Mayor setting forth the number or arrests made during the preceding year, the name of each person arrested and the disposition of the case; and he shall make such recommendations for the peace and good order of the Town as he may consider necessary and proper.
Section 31. Town Jail
The corporation is vested with the power to construct and maintain a jail or place of detention for persons convicted of violations of ordinances or for persons detained prior to hearing and trial; provided that the prison of Sussex county may be used for such purposes, the town paying the charges therefor in respect of persons violating any ordinances of the town which does not comprehend a violation of the general law of the State.
Section 32. Budget
The fiscal year of the Town shall be from the thirty-first day of March of one year to the first day of April of the following year.
Annually, and not later than the first day of May the Council, or a committee of the Council appointed for the purpose, shall prepare the budget for the fiscal year, setting forth therein the plan of financing the business and affairs of the Town.
The budget shall set forth:
1. A detailed estimate of the amount of money to be received from taxation, and all other anticipated revenues.
2. A detailed estimate of the general expenses of each department, office or bureau of the Town.
3. A detailed statement of all other estimated or probable expenses, other than the expense relating to bonded indebtedness.
4. The amount of the bonded indebtedness of the Town with a schedule of maturities of bonds or bond issues.
5. A statement of the amount of money required for interest on bonded indebtedness, for the payment of any bond matured during the fiscal year, and the amount required for sinking funds.
6. A detailed statement of the property of the Town, real and personal, the estimated value thereof, and the amount of insurance maintained thereon.
So far as possible, appropriations of money shall be in conformity with the budget.
Section 33. Taxation
Real property and interests therein, situated within the limits of the Town, shall be subject to taxation. Every person resident within the limits of the Town above the age of twenty-one (21) years shall be subject to a capitation tax to be fixed by the Council.
For general municipal purposes, an amount of money not in excess of Thirty-four thousand ($34,000) Dollars, may be raised annually; and an additional amount, not exceeding One Thousand ($1000) Dollars, may also be raised annually for the purchase of fire equipment and keeping it in repair, which amount, with the consent of the Fire Department, may be applied to the redemption of the municipal bonded indebtedness; and a further additional amount shall be raised annually as, in addition to sewer service charges, water rents and charges, and miscellaneous revenue, may be necessary to pay the interest on the municipal bonded indebtedness, and to provide an adequate sinking fund for the payment of municipal bonds at maturity, or redemption thereof before maturity.
Section 34. Increase in limitation of amount to be raised by taxation
The maximum amount of money allowed to be raised annually by taxation for general municipal purposes may be increased, from time to time, upon approval of the qualified taxable of the Town at a Special Election to be called and held for the purpose. The procedure prescribed for the borrowing of money and issuance of bonds shall be followed with the necessary and appropriate changes as to detail. The first resolution of the Council shall set forth the annual fixed charges and expenses of the Town, the maximum amount of money allowed annually to be raised for general municipal purposes, the facts and circumstances making necessary an increase of such maximum amount of taxes and the maximum amount proposed to be raised.
If, after public hearing, it shall be determined to proceed with the proposal, an ordinance or resolution shall be adopted providing for a special election to be called, held and conducted as provided in Section 15 hereof, and with the same voting qualifications and privileges. The ballot shall be in the same form except the words "Increase of Taxation" shall be substituted for the word "Borrowing".
If the proposal shall be approved at such Election, this Charter shall be deemed and taken to be amended in respect to the maximum amount of money to be raised annually for general municipal purposes.
Section 35. Board of assessment.
On or before the first day of February in each year, the Mayor shall appoint a Board of Assessment to consist of two bona fide residents of the Town.
The members of the Board, before entering upon their duties, shall take and subscribe an oath or affirmation to perform their duties with fidelity and without favor.
It shall be their duty to make a fair and impartial assessment of property and persons subject to taxation, and to perform such other duties in relation to the assessment and valuation of property and persons as shall be prescribed by the Council.
The members of the Board shall receive such compensation for their services and expenses as shall be fixed by the Council.
Section 36. Assessment of taxes--Appeals.
The Board of Assessment shall annually, prior to the first Monday in April, make a just, true and impartial assessment of valuation of all real property, or interest therein, within the boundaries of the Town. In making such assessment, the rules and exemptions now applicable by the law to the making of County assessments of property and persons shall be applicable insofar as they may be consistent with the provisions of this Charter.
All real property shall be described with sufficient particularity as to be readily identified, and shall be assessed to or listed in the name of the owner if known. If the owner is not known or cannot be ascertained, the property shall be assessed to "owner unknown". A mistake in name or an incorrect name, or an assessment to "owner unknown" shall not affect the validity of the assessment, provided the assessment shall designate the last record owner as it shall appear in the records in the Office of the Recorder of Deeds for Sussex County.
The Board of Assessment shall also make a personal assessment of all citizens of the Town above the age of twenty-one (21) years. The personal or per capitum assessment shall be determined by the Council and certified to the Board of Assessment.
The assessment list shall distinguish between the real and personal assessment of each taxable, and shall be so arranged that the real estate, improvements thereon, and the per capitum assessment shall be in separate columns.
The real property of the members of the Board of Assessment shall be assessed by the Council.
The Board of Assessment shall make, certify and deliver to the Council three copies of the assessment list as prepared by them. One of the copies shall be posted at the municipal building, and one at the post office in the Town, if that be allowed, otherwise in some public place in the Town as the Council may determine, there to remain until after the final session of the Court of Appeal.
There shall be appended to the copies of the assessment list so displayed a notice that upon a stated day, not earlier than ten (10) days after the posting of the assessment list, from two o'clock P. M. until six o'clock P. M., the Council will sit as a Court of Appeal for the hearing of appeals from the Assessment list, and the revision and completion thereof. Like notices shall be posted in at least six other public places in the Town, and published at least once in a newspaper in the Town.
On the day and within the hours stated in the notices, the Council shall sit as a Court of Appeal to hear appeals of taxables, and to revise and complete the assessment lists; but no assessment of property shall be raised except upon notice to the taxable affording an opportunity to be heard.
A majority of all the members of the Council shall constitute a quorum of the Court of Appeal and its decision shall be final and conclusive.
The session of the Court of Appeal may be adjourned or continued, from time to time, until all appeals shall have been heard and determined, and the assessment list revised and completed.
The members of the Board of Assessment shall attend the session of the Court of Appeal and shall furnish the Court with such information as may be required of them.
No member of the Council shall sit upon his own appeal, but such appeal shall be heard and determined by the other members of the Court.
Upon the revision and 'completion of the assessment list the Town Clerk shall cause to be made a true copy thereof, showing in detail the separate and aggregate assessment of each taxable, arranged alphabetically and certified under the hand of the President of the Council, which shall be open to inspection by any taxable of the Town.
Section 37. Levy of taxes.
At the first regular meeting of the Council in May of each year, the Council shall determine the total amount of money to be raised by taxation of property, from per capita taxes, and other sources wherewith to pay and discharge all fixed and anticipated expenses and obligations of the Town, including reasonable reservations for the current fiscal year as set forth in the annual budget, plus a reasonable amount to cover unanticipated expenses and emergencies, the amount to be raised by taxation of real estate not to be in excess of the maximum allowed to be raised by taxation for general municipal purposes and interest and sinking fund requirements of bond issues.
The Council shall fix and determine:
(a) The rate of tax on real estate for each One Hundred ($100.00) Dollars of assessed value;
(b) The poll or capitation tax;
() The rate of tax on poles, lines and constructions of utilities, mains and conduits, if it be determined to assess and tax such property;
(a) The amount of license fees or charges for carrying on businesses, occupations and professions in the Town, if it shall be determined to establish such license fees or charges;
(b) The several rates for supplying water, sewer service and other utility services and the several amounts thereof.
The Town Clerk shall, thereupon, under the direction of the Council, calculate and enter into a book to be known as the annual tax ledger, the separate and aggregate amounts of property taxes, poll taxes and assessments upon poles, lines and construction, mains and conduits, if any.
Upon the completion of the tax ledger, there shall be endorsed thereon a direction to the Town Clerk, signed by the President of the Council, to collect the taxes and charges as shown thereby.
Section 38. Collection of taxes.
Taxes shall be due and payable on or before the first day of July in each year. A discount of three percentum shall be allowed on all payments made on or before the first day of July.
No discount shall be allowed on payments made after the first day of July. After the first day of October taxes due the Town shall be deemed to be in arrears, and shall bear interest at six percentum per annum from the first day of July until the day of payment. As against persons subject to capitation tax only, a penalty of twenty-five cents shall be imposed on payments after the first day of October in lieu of interest.
As soon as the annual tax ledger shall have been completed and certified, the Town Clerk shall send to each taxable a detailed and itemized statement of taxes due, and the statement shall contain the information that taxes are due and payable on or before the first day of July, the discount to be allowed and penalty or interest to be charged for non-payment.
The Town Clerk shall note in the tax ledger the date of each payment, discount allowed, or interest or penalty charged, and likewise upon each tax receipt given by him the same notation shall be made.
The Town Clerk, promptly, and at least each week, shall deposit to the credit of the Town all taxes and other money received by him, in a banking institution located within the limits of the Town. He shall be prepared, upon the request of the Council, to produce all papers and documents relative to the deposits of money and the sources of revenue.
After the first day of October the Town Clerk is authorized and empowered to collect unpaid taxes in the manner authorized by this Charter; but before instituting any proceedings for the collection thereof, he shall give to the delinquent taxable by mail addressed to his last known post office address, a statement of the assessment of the taxes, the aggregate amount due with interest thereon, unless the Town Clerk shall have reasonable cause to believe that immediate action is necessary.
Section 39. Remedies for the collection of taxes.
The Town Clerk may pursue any of the remedies for the collection of taxes now or hereafter given and afforded the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer of Sussex County, and the provisions of the Laws of the State of Delaware for the collection of taxes as they relate to the Receiver of Taxes and County Treasurer for Sussex County are incorporated herein by reference thereto, with necessary changes as to detail, except as otherwise provided herein.
Any action or proceeding for the recovery of taxes shall be in the name of "_________, Town Clerk".
The Town Clerk shall be allowed the following fees:
For each sale of personal property $3.00
For each sale of real estate $5.00
and he shall also be allowed such additional expenses of sale as may be approved by the Court. The expense of the deed shall be paid by the purchaser.
The residue of the proceeds of sale of real or personal property for taxes and other charges due, after the payment of such taxes or charges and the necessary expenses and costs, shall be deposited in one of the banking institutions of the Town to the credit of the taxable or owner of such property, if the person to whom the said residue may be due shall refuse to accept the money and give a receipt therefor.
The corporation is authorized and empowered to employ a person to bid for it at the sale of any property sold for the collection of taxes or other charges and to become the purchaser at such sale.
Section 40. Lien of taxes.
Taxes levied on property and persons shall be a lien on the real estate of the taxable within the limits of the Town of which the taxable was seized at any time after the date of the levy of the tax in the month of May; and such lien shall have priority over any other lien on the real estate of the taxable in the Town although such other lien be of a prior date. The lien shall remain for two years from the date of the tax levy; but if the real estate shall remain the property of the person who owns it at the time of the tax levy, the lien shall remain until the tax is paid.
Section 41. Tax settlement.
In the month of May following the date of the certification of the annual tax ledger, the Council shall fix a day and hour for settlement of taxes with the Town Clerk. The Council shall allow to the Town Clerk all taxes which shall have been found impossible to collect by reason of error in the assessment list or for other reasonable cause, but no allowance shall be made for taxes not collected due to the delay or other default of the Town Clerk.
The settlement shall be final and conclusive, and no other allowance shall be made to the Town Clerk; and upon the conclusion of the settlement the Town Clerk shall forthwith pay to the corporation the aggregate of the amount of the taxes found to be due and owing. Upon his failure or neglect so to do, the corporation shall proceed to collect the amount found to be due from the Town Clerk, or his surety.
Default by the Town Clerk in any amount shall be a sufficient reason for dismissal from office; but the Council for good cause shown may extend the time for final settlement for a period not exceeding six (6) months.
Section 42. Water commissioner.
The Mayor, subject to confirmation by the Council, shall appoint a suitable person as Water Commissioner, for a term coincident with that of the appointing Mayor, and at a salary to be fixed by the Council. The Water Commissioner shall give bond to the corporation in such amount as the Council shall determine.
The management and operation of the Water System of the Town are vested in and imposed upon the Water Commissioner subject to such proper rules and regulations as may be established by the Council, including the countersigning of all checks drawn by the Town Clerk for money paid on account of the Water Department; provided, however, that the Water Commissioner shall make no purchase of materials, nor obligate the corporation in any manner for an amount exceeding One Hundred Dollars ($100.00) without the approval of the Council.
Section 43. Annual audit.
The Council shall provide annually, or more often if it is deemed necessary, for the examination and audit of all the books, accounts and records of the several officers, departments, bureaus and employees of the Town.
Section 44. Limitation of actions.
No action or proceeding shall be brought against the corporation for damages resulting from negligence of the corporation, its officers, agents or employees, unless the claimant shall, within ninety days from the time the cause of action arose, notify the corporation in writing of the time, place, nature and extent of the injuries sustained or damages suffered.
Section 45. Act--Effective when.
This Act shall become effective on the first day of July, A. D., 1953.
Section 46. All acts in conflict with the provisions of this Charter, or inconsistent with the provisions hereof, are repealed.
Approved July 7, 1953.