HOUSE BILL NO. 222
AN ACT TO AMEND CHAPTER 184, VOLUME 43, LAWS OF DELAWARE AS AMENDED, ENTITLED "AN ACT CHANGING THE NAME OF THE TOWN OF SEAFORD TO THE CITY OF SEAFORD AND ESTABLISHING A CHARTER THEREFORE".
BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE (Two-thirds of all members elected to each house thereof concurring therein) :
Section 1. Amend Section 5, Chapter 184, Volume 43, Laws of Delaware, as amended, by adding a new subsection to read as follows:
“(4) shall not have been convicted of a felony”.
Section 2. Amend Section 6, Chapter 184, Volume 43, Laws of Delaware, as amended, by deleting said section in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:
“METHOD OF MAKING NOMINATIONS FOR MAYOR AND CITY COUNCNILMAN.
SECTION 6. The candidates for Mayor and City Councilman shall be nominated as follows:
a) For each election of Mayor and City Councilman, the City Manager shall post a notice of solicitation of candidates conspicuously in the City Hall at least twenty (20) days prior to the filing deadline for the offices up for election. Such notice shall include the term(s) of each office up for election, the dead line and procedure for declaring candidacy for an office up for election, the qualifications for holding each office and information about how to obtain absentee ballots.
b) Each candidate shall notify the City Manager in writing of their candidacy for the office of either Mayor or City Councilman; or five (5) or more persons qualified to vote in the annual election may file the name of the candidate for the office of Mayor or City Councilman with the City Manager provided that the candidate endorses his/her written consent thereon.
c) All such notifications of candidacy must be filed with the City Manager on or before the close of business on the Fourth Friday of March in the year of the annual election next ensuing; and thereupon, it shall be the duty of the City manager to have a list of names of all candidates so filed with him/her printed in a newspaper published in the City of Seaford on the First Thursday in the month of April in the year of the said annual election next ensuing; or in the event that no newspaper is published in the said City, publication may be had in a newspaper having general circulation in the community; or, in the discretion of the City Council, the City Manager may post a list of names of all candidates designating the office sought by each candidate in at last five (5) public places in the City, such public places to be designated by the Council. One (1) of the said public places shall be in the City Hall of the City of Seaford.”.
Section 3. Amend Section 7, Chapter 184, Volume 43, Laws of Delaware, as amended, by deleting said Section in its entirety and substituting in lieu thereof the following:
“MANNER OF HOLDING ANNUAL ELECTIONS.
SECTION 7(A). The annual municipal election shall be held on the Third Saturday in April of each and every year. The polls shall be opened at Ten (10) A.M. and shall close at Six (6) P.M. prevailing time unless only one (1) candidate has been nominated for each office which has expired and for which nominations have been received. If there is only one (1) official candidate for any office and no formal opponent, the official candidate shall assume office without the holding of a formal election for that office. All voting shall take place in the City Hall of the City of Seaford.
(B) At such Annual Election, every person, male or female who shall have attained the age for voting as established by the State of Delaware for voting in a General Election and who shall be a bona fide resident of the City of Seaford as of the day of final registration next preceding the Annual Election and each non-resident natural person of the City of Seaford who shall have obtained the age for voting established by the State of Delaware for voting in a General Election and who shall have been a freeholder of property in the City of Seaford for a period of six (6) months immediately preceding the date of the Annual Election shall have one (1) vote provided he or she is registered on the “Books of Registered Voters” of the City of Seaford. The City Council of the City of Seaford shall provide two (2) registers to be known as the “Books of Registered Voters” which are to be kept at the Office of the City Manager. The Books of Registered Voters shall contain the following information for each registrant: the name of the registered voter arranged in alphabetical order, the permanent address of the voter, the date the registrant became a resident of the City of Seaford, the date the registrant became a freeholder of the City of Seaford, the birth date of the voter and any other pertinent information. No person shall be registered upon the Books of Registered Voters unless such person will have acquired the qualifications to vote in the Annual Election for the year in which such person registers. A person shall be required to register only one (1) time; provided, however, that the name of a registered voter shall be removed from the Books of Registered Voters by the City Manager upon the death of the registered voter, removal from the City of a registered voter, or loss of any other qualification to vote as prescribed herein, and notice sent to said registered voter at his last known address by certified mail with return receipt requested advising such registered voter that his name has been removed from the Books of Registered Voters and that it will be necessary to register again in order to be eligible to vote in the Annual E lection except that no notice be sent when removal is caused by the death of the registered voter. The Books of Registered Voters shall be maintained in the in the office of the City Manager and shall be conclusive evidence of the right of any person to vote in the Annual Election. A person may register at the Office of the City Manager during the regular business hours of such office until the close of business of such office on the Fourth Friday in the month of March by completing such forms as may be required by the City. For all purposes of this Charter, a freeholder shall be deemed to include any natural person who holds fee simple title to real property to his own name or who holds title to an undivided interest in real property, or who holds title to real estate as a joint tenant or as a tenant by the entirety.
(C) Absentee voting shall be permitted in all municipal elections in conformity with Chapter 75 of Title 15 of the Delaware Code.
(D) The Mayor shall submit to the City Council, for its approval, the names of individuals to serve as the Board of Elections whose purpose shall be to oversee the municipal election in conformity with Chapter 75 of Title 15 of the Delaware Code. Said Board shall consist of five (5) qualified electors of the City and shall serve for such term as determined by the City Council.
(E) All municipal elections of the City of Seaford shall be conducted in conformity with Chapter 75 of Title 15 of the Delaware Code.”.
Section 4. Amend Section 25, Chapter 184, Volume 43, Laws of Delaware, as amended, by deleting said Section in its entirety and substituting in its place the following:
“ASSESSOR AND ASSESSMENT OF TAXES.
Section 25(A). At the annual meeting held following the annual municipal election and in no event later than the first regular meeting, the Mayor shall appoint a qualified person or firm to serve as Tax Assessor.
(B) It shall be the duty of the Tax Assessor of the City of Seaford duly appointed to make a true and impartial assessment of the real property of each citizen resident within the limits and territory of the City and also non-residents who own real property within the limits and territory of the City. The said real property shall be assessed at its actual and true value provided that any real estate within the corporate limits of the City neither laid out in the building lots nor plotted as such and containing in excess of five (5) acres and used exclusively for recreational purposes by non-profit organizations, or as farm land shall be exempt from taxation for City purposes. If, however, the real estate meets the criteria described above but has a building or other improvement on it, said building or other improvement shall not be exempt from taxation but shall be taxed as all other real estate lying within the territory and limits of the City of Seaford.
(C) The said Tax Assessor shall make a fair and impartial assessment as required by this Act and by any ordinance adopted by the City Council pursuant to this Act and shall return the assessment with the property owners alphabetically arranged as made by him within thirty (30) days after having been appointed. The Tax Assessor may adopt the fair market valuation as made by the Board of Assessment of Sussex County for such real estate if the said Tax Assessor, in his judgment, considers such assessment to be proper and fair. The Tax Assessor shall be present in any advisory capacity, but without voting power, at the time the City Council sits at a Board of Revision and Appeal.
(D) The said Tax Assessor shall, at the option of the City Manager, make a supplemental assessment list quarterly in each fiscal year. The first such supplemental assessment list shall be certified on July 1 of each year, the second on October 1 of each year, the third on January 1 of each year, and the fourth on April 1 of each year.
(E) The City Council shall cause a full and complete transcript of the assessment list alphabetically arranged, to be posted in the City Hall and in one (1) other public place within thirty (30) days following its completion by the Tax Assessor. The said transcript shall remain posted for at least ten (10) days.
(F) At the first regular meeting following the expiration of the ten (10) day period required for posting the City Council, between the hours of seven o’clock in the evening, prevailing time, and eight o’clock in the evening, prevailing time, on said day shall sit and determine any appeals from the assessment as determined by the Tax Assessor and shall make any corrections, alterations or additions in and to any assessment so made. The said Council, sitting as a Board of Revision and Appeal, shall have full authority to alter, revise, reduce or increase the assessment of property of any person or persons, partnership or corporation whose property has been assessed by the Tax Assessor. Any person appearing before the City Council sitting as a Board of Revision and Appeal may appear in person or may be represented by any third party who has written authorization to so appear. In the event that the Council finds it necessary, or for any reason whatsoever to increase the assessment of property of any person or persons, partnership or corporation at the time of its sitting as a Board of Revision and Appeal, it shall give notice by registered mail with return receipt requested to such person or persons, partnership or corporation that the assessment on the real or personal property as made by the Assessor has been increased and, in addition, it shall set a time and date not later than twenty (20) days from the date of the mailing of said notice when such person or persons, partnership or corporation may appear before the Council sitting as a Board of Revision and Appeal for the purpose of introducing any evidence why the assessment should not be so increased. In the event that said person or persons, partnership, or corporation does not notify the Council in writing by registered mail at least five (5) days prior to the date set by the Council sitting as a Board of Revision and Appeal for the hearing on the increased assessment of an intent to appeal the decision to increase his or her assessment, the increased assessment shall be final and no appeal there from shall be taken thereafter.
(G) The assessment, as revised and adjusted by the City Council sitting as a Board of Revision and Appeal, shall be the basis for the levy of the taxes of the City, subject however, to the addition of any interest and penalties as hereinafter provided.
(H) No member of the City Council shall sit as a member of the Board of Revision and Appeal upon his own appeal, but the appeal by any member of the City Council shall be heard and determined by the other members of the Board of Revision and Appeal in the same manner as hereinbefore provided.
(I) After the valuation, assessment and any revision thereof, all taxes so assessed shall be levied and raised in equal proportions and rates.
(J) The assessment and valuation of real estate in the City of Seaford as made by said Assessor, and as corrected, altered or added to by the City Council at its sitting as a Board of Revision and Appeal hereinbefore mentioned, shall stand and is acted upon until changed as provided for herein.
(K) After the said Tax Assessor shall have completed the assessment of property in the City and shall have made his report to the City Council, and shall have sat in an advisory capacity with the City Council sitting as the Board of Revision and Appeal, he or she shall have such further duties in respect to the assessment of persons and property as the City Council shall prescribe by resolution.
(L) The Assessor shall also have the right to levy and collect taxes upon all telephone, telegraph, power poles or other erections of like character erected within the limits of the City together with the wires and appliances thereto or thereon attached, that are now assessable and taxable and to this end may at any time direct the same to be included in or added to the City Assessment. In case the owner or lessee of such poles or erections shall refuse or neglect to pay the taxes that may be levied thereon, the said taxes may be collected by the Collector of Taxes as in the case of other taxes and the Council shall have the authority to cause the same to be removed.
(M) The Council shall determine and fix a rate of taxation which will produce approximately the amount of money necessary to defray the expenses of the City for the current year, including interest on bonded indebtedness and for redemption of maturing bonds and for maintenance of a sinking fund.”.
Section 5. Amend Section 25(A), Chapter 184, Volume 43, Laws of Delaware, as amended, by deleting paragraphs (a) and (b) and substituting in lieu thereof the following:
“(a) The City Council of the City of Seaford, in addition to all other powers conferred upon it by this Act, shall have the power and authority by ordinance or ordinances to levy, assess and collect or provide for the levying, assessment and collection of such taxes as shall be determined by the City Council to be paid by the transferor or transferee upon the transfer of real property or any interest in real property situate within the corporate limits of the City of Seaford, regardless of where the instruments making the transfers are made, executed or delivered or where the actual settlements on such transfer occur; provided, however, that no tax levied under this Section shall exceed one and one-half percent (1 ½%) of the value of the property; and provided further that no tax shall be le vied upon an organization exempted from ad valorem real estate taxes.
(b) No tax levied under this Section shall exceed one and one half percent (1 ½%) of the sale price (including the value of any assumed mortgage or mortgages) or of the fair market value of the real property so transferred; and provided, however, that no tax shall be imposed upon an organization which is exempted from ad valorem taxes. The provisions of Section 5401 and Section 5403, Chapter 54 of Title 30 of the Delaware Code shall be applicable to any realty transfer tax imposed pursuant to this Act.”.
Approved July 17, 2007