AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE CREATION OF SANITARY OR WATER DISTRICTS IN SUSSEX COUNTY, AUTHORIZING THE LEVY COURT OF SUSSEX COUNTY TO ISSUE REVENUE OR GENERAL OBLIGATION BONDS TO SECURE THE PAYMENT FOR IMPROVEMENTS NECESSARY TO WATER OR SANITARY DISTRICTS, AND PERMITTING THE LEVY COURT OF SUSSEX COUNTY TO COLLECT REVENUES AND CHARGES FOR WATER AND SEWER SERVICES.
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Delaware:
Section 1. Title 9, Delaware Code, is amended by adding thereto a new Chapter 65 as follows:
CHAPTER 65. SANITARY AND WATER DISTRICTS
§ 6501. Conditions for establishment of sanitary sewer or water district
(a) Whenever contiguous territory containing one or more centers of population, whether incorporated or not, shall be so situated that the construction of interceptor sewers, out-fall sewers and sewage treatment plants will be conducive to the preservation of the public health, the territory shall be established by the Sussex County Levy Court as a sanitary sewer district.
(b) Whenever contiguous territory containing one or more centers of population, whether incorporated or not, shall be so situated that the construction of water mains, pipes and distribution facilities is economically feasible and conducive to the preservation of health, the territory shall be established by the Levy Court as a water district. The Levy Court may employ expert assistance in making a determination of economic feasibility and effect on health, but the determination of the Levy Court as to economic feasibility and effect on health shall be conclusive and binding.
§ 6502. Establishment or revision of sanitary or water districts without election
(a) Where the Levy Court has already constructed sewers or water mains to which 50 or more houses have been connected, 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.
(b) Within 30 days after the posting of the notices of the establishment of the district in accordance with the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, the Levy Court shall pass a formal resolution establishing the district, which shall (1) contain a description of the boundaries of the district; (2) direct the County Engineer and the attorney of the Levy Court to procure the necessary land and rights-of-way by purchase, agreement, or condemnation in accordance with existing statutes; and (3) 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 or furnishing of water in the sanitary or water district.
§ 6503. Establishment of sanitary or water district upon petition of voters
Fifty or more legal voters, residents of a proposed sanitary sewer or water district, may petition the Levy Court to submit the question of organizing a sanitary sewer or water district to a vote of electors residing in that district. The 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 district together with the limits of any incorporated areas which may be included in the 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.
§ 6504. Public hearing; notice
The Levy Court, upon receipt of a petition submitted as provided in section 6503 of this title, shall, and the Levy Court may, upon its own motion and without having received such a petition, set a date for a public hearing on the question of organizing a sanitary sewer or water district. The hearing shall be held at such time as may be fixed by the Levy Court and shall be previously advertised by posting a notice, in four of the most public places within the proposed district, at least 10 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 the petition shall be heard on any question dealing with the location of the boundaries of the district. Such notice shall contain a description of the boundaries of the proposed sanitary or water district and if the public hearing be ordered as a result of the filing of a petition such boundaries shall be those described in the petition.
§ 6505. Action of Levy Court following hearing
(a) After the public hearing referred to in section 6504 of this title shall have been closed, the Levy Court shall, by resolution, determine whether or not it is in the public interest to establish the district and, if it deems it to be in the public interest to establish the district, the Levy Court shall, by such resolution, determine what shall be the boundaries of the district. Such boundaries may be those set forth in the petition or may be boundaries which will include in the district the property and property-owners, and only the property and property-owners, that will be benefited by the establishment of the district and the construction of sewage disposal or water facilities therein.
(b) After establishing the boundaries of the district, 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 costs of construction and financing. The construction cost estimates and assessment estimates shall be advertised in the same manner as provided in Section 6504 of this title for advertising the public hearing.
§ 6506. Election on question of establishment of district
(a) Whenever the determination on the question of establishing the district, as required by section 6505 of this title, is in the affirmative, and after the other requirements of that section have been complied with, the Levy Court then shall cause an election to be held 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 sewer 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 provided in section 6504 of this title 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.
(b) The proposition shall be submitted to the voters substantially in the following form :
FOR THE SANITARY SEWER DISTRICT
AGAINST THE SANITARY SEWER DISTRICT
(c) The majority of votes cast shall decide the matter.
(d) The election shall be managed and the votes canvassed in such manner as may be prescribed by the Levy Court. Every citizen who resides in the proposed sanitary sewer district in which the election is being held and who would be entitled at the time of the holding of such election to register and vote in any election district in which the proposed sanitary sewer district is a part, at a general election, if such general election were held on the day of such election in the proposed sanitary sewer district, may vote at such election whether or not he is at the time a registered voter.
§ 6507. Action of Levy Court following election favoring establishment of district
(a) If the majority of the voters are in favor of establishing the sanitary sewer district, the Levy Court shall within 30 days following the election, issue a determination to that effect which shall contain a description of the district. The Court shall file a certified copy of the determination with the Clerk of the Peace.
(b) Within 30 days after the election, the Levy Court shall authorize the County Engineer and the Levy Court attorney to procure the necessary land and rights-of-way by purchase, agreement, or by condemnation in accordance with existing laws, and shall authorize the County Engineer to prepare maps, plans, specifications and estimates for any or all structures required to provide for the installation of sewers or water systems, and to let contracts for, supervise the construction and maintenance of, or the enlarging or remodeling of such systems, and to carry on such other activities as may be required by this chapter or considered necessary to perform the duties prescribed in this chapter.
§ 6508. Construction of system adequate for future connections
The Levy Court may construct and maintain main sewers or water mains and sewage or water 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.
§ 6509. Construction or maintenance of sewers or water systems for municipalities
The Levy Court may construct or maintain sub-mains or laterals as agent for municipalities when officially requested so to act and when the cost of such work is to be borne by local assessments against the property benefited or by assessment by the Levy Court in the same manner as for unincorporated areas.
§ 6510. Adjustment of assessment for cost of existing sewers included in a district
In the case where a sanitary sewer or water district shall include areas wherein sanitary sewers or water systems have been constructed under the authority of the Levy Court, or by municipalities, corporations or individuals, the necessary adjustments shall be made with each property owner for those costs already incurred by the property owner when those sewers or water systems were constructed. Such excess costs shall be credited to future assessment levied by the district.
§ 6511. Bonds; power to issue; terms
(a) The Levy Court may issue bonds of Sussex County to finance the cost of constructing sewage disposal or water facilities in any sanitary sewer or water district. The moneys raised by the issuance of such bonds shall be held in a separate account and shall be expended only for the construction of sewage disposal or water facilities in the sanitary sewer or water district for which the bonds are issued.
() The bonds shall bear interest at a rate which shall not exceed six per cent per annum and the bonds shall be exempt from taxation by the State or any political sub-division thereof for any purpose. Each issue of such bonds shall be payable within 40 years after the date of the bonds of such issue. The interest coupons and face amount of the bonds shall be payable at the branch of the Farmers Bank of Delaware located in Sussex County. The reasonable expenses of issuing such bonds shall be deemed a part of the cost of constructing the sewer or water facilities. The full faith and credit of Sussex County shall be pledged to the payment of such bonds and the interest thereon.
§ 6512. Advertisement for bids; notice of sale; sale and issuance of bonds
(a) Any bonds issued pursuant to this chapter shall be sold at public sale and the Levy Court shall advertise that they will receive bids at such place or places as may be named in said advertisement for such bonds as may be determined by the Levy Court.
(b) Sufficient notice of sale of said bonds shall be deemed to have been given if said notice shall have been published at least once 10 or more days before the date of sale, in at least one newspaper published in the County and in a financial journal published in the city of New York, and no other publication of such notice of sale shall be necessary, and said bonds may be sold upon such terms and conditions as may be set forth in such notice of sale, provided that the purchase price shall be not less than par and accrued interest.
(c) In the event that the bonds so offered for sale are not bid for, or if no legally acceptable bid is received for the bonds, they may be sold under the direction of the Levy Court at private sale upon the best terms they can obtain for the same, provided that they shall not be sold at private sale for less than par and accrued interest and at a rate which shall not exceed 6% per annum.
(d) Without limiting the power granted the Levy Court as to the terms and conditions which they may set forth in a notice of sale, the Levy Court may request bids and award the bonds upon any of the following conditions:
(1) Bidders may be invited to name a single rate of interest for the issue or issues contained in the notice of sale, in which event the bonds can be awarded to the bidder offering to take all of the bonds at the lowest rate of interest, and as between bidders naming the same lowest rate of interest, the amount of premium will determine the aware; or
(2) Bidders may be invited, with respect to a single issue, a combined issue or several other issues of bonds included in one notice of sale, to name one rate of interest for part of the bonds (having the earliest maturities) and another rate or rates for the balance of the bonds, and may permit a different interest rate for each maturity, or may limit the number of rates which may be proposed. If proposals are so invited, the bonds should be awarded to the bidder offering to purchase the bonds at the lowest net interest cost to the County the net interest cost to be determined by computing the aggregate amount of interest payable on the bonds from their date to their respective maturities and by deducting from such aggregate amount the premium offered, if any.
(e) The bonds shall be executed, sealed, and delivered in accordance with the issuing resolution of the Levy Court, which resolution may include a declaration that all acts necessary for the validity of the bonds have been performed and such declaration shall be conclusive and binding upon the Levy Court.
§ 6513. Annual assessment; procedure for fixing amount
(a) The Levy Court each year, at a time to be fixed by it, shall, after a public hearing, establish an annual assessment roll for the sanitary sewer or water district which shall be known as the "Sanitary Sewer District Assessment", or "Water District Assessment".
() The total amount assessed for each year shall be sufficient to provide funds required to reimburse the County for sums to be expended 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 or water system and paying the necessary general expenses of the sanitary sewer or water district.
(a) Notice of the public hearing shall state that the assessment roll has been completed and filed and that at the time and place fixed for the public hearing the Levy Court will meet and hear and consider any objections which may be made to the assessment roll. Notice of the public hearing shall be published in a newspaper published within Sussex County, and having a general circulation therein, once in each of the two weeks immediately preceding the week in which the public hearing is to be held.
(b) After holding the public hearing, the Levy Court may change or amend the assessment roll as it deems necessary or just, and may confirm and adopt the assessment roll as originally proposed or as amended or changed.
§ 6514. Collection of assessments
The annual assessments, including front foot assessments, shall be collected by the Levy Court as are other county taxes. The properties against which such assessments are levied shall be liable for the payment of the assessments in the same manner as they are liable for other county taxes. No assessment shall be made against any property which is not subject to taxation and assessment for county and municipal purposes.
§ 6515. Rules and regulations governing use of sewage disposal and water facilities
The Levy Court may 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 or waters systems or sewage treatment plants constructed under their control either within or without the district.
§ 6516. Grants or loans from Federal, State or inter-state agencies
The Levy Court may accept grants 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 chapter and may pay the interest and amortization on such loans in the same manner as is authorized in this chapter for bonds.
§ 6517. Order to connect to sanitary sewer; enforcement
(a) The Levy Court may, where it deems it necessary to the preservation of public health, order the owner of any lot or parcel of land within a sanitary or water district which abuts upon a street or other public way containing a sanitary sewer or water main, which is part of or which is served or may be served by the county sewerage or water system and upon which lot or parcel of land a building shall have been constructed for residential, commercial or industrial use, to connect such building with such sanitary sewer or water main.
(b) If any owner shall fail to comply within 60 days with such order to connect with a sanitary sewer or water
main, the Levy Court shall forthwith institute action in the Court of Chancery of the State of Delaware to compel compliance with such order.
§ 6518. Exception to limitation on borrowing power
Title 9, Delaware Code, § 6111 shall not apply to this chapter.
Approved December 21, 1965.