VALUATION AND ASSESSMENT OF PROPERTY
AN ACT for the Better Assessment of Taxes in Kent County, abolishing the office of Assessor, providing a Board of Assessment, and prescribing the powers and duties of said board.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the State of Delaware in General Assembly met:
Section 1. That from and after the first Tuesday in January, A. D. 1921, the office of Assessor in the several hundreds and districts of Kent County where Assessors are elected, is hereby abolished, and the duties heretofore devolving upon them shall be performed by a Board of Assessment, to be composed of three persons, and there shall be no election of Assessors in the several hundreds and districts of Kent County after the approval of this Act.
Section 2. On the second Tuesday in January in the year 1921 and every four years thereafter, on the second Tuesday in January, the Levy Court of Kent County shall appoint three freeholders, qualified voters of said County, no two of whom shall be residents of the same Senatorial District, all of whom shall be chosen from the two principal political parties and not more than two of whom shall be of the same political faith, who when qualified, shall compose the Board of Assessment for Kent County for four years, commencing always on the second Tuesday in January.
Section 3. No member of said Board of Assessment shall, during the time for which he is appointed, bold any other County or State office. If a vacancy in said Board occurs from death, removal from the County, resignation or otherwise, such vacancy shall be filled by the Levy Court for the unexpired term.
Section 4. Any member of said Board may be removed by the Levy Court for any failure to perform the duties of his office, or any other sufficient cause, after due notice, and hearing, but the person so removed shall have the right to appeal from said judgment or decision to the Superior Court of the County, which said Court shall, in a summary proceeding, either affirm or reverse the judgment or decision of the Levy Court. If such judgment or decision be reversed, the person appealing shall be remitted to his said office, and shall be entitled to all arrears of compensation.
Section 5. Each member of the Board, before entering upon his duties, shall appear before the Levy Court of the County to take the oath of office prescribed by the Constitution, which said oath may be administered by the Clerk of the Peace, or by any member of the Levy Court, and a minute thereof shall be entered upon the records of said Levy Court.
Section 6. Each member of the board shall receive a yearly
salary of Twelve Hundred Dollars, payable in equal monthly installments. The necessary traveling expenses of the members of the Board, incurred in traveling through the County for the purpose of making the assessments, shall be made up monthly and duly verified by the members of the Board, and shall be paid by the Levy Court, after due investigation.
Section 7. The Levy Court of Kent County shall, during the month of February in each year, value and assess the property of the members of the Board of Assessment. The said members shall make the same returns, schedules and certifications as is provided in this Act for other taxables.
Section 8. All property, real and personal, subject to assessment, shall be assessed at its true value in money. If the said Board of Assessment, or any member thereof, knowingly or willfully shall assess ox value any property upon any other principle than its actual value, each of the members of said Board participating therein shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be fined in a sum not less than One Hundred dollars, or imprisoned, at the discretion of the Court.
Section 9. If the Board cannot discover the owner of any property, real or personal, it shall nevertheless be assessed and valued, and it shall be stated that the owner is unknown.
Section 10. The Board of Assessment shall ascertain and assess, according to law, all the taxable property in each election district, and shall make a written statement thereof, showing the names of the owners, arranged alphabetically, and at least three consecutive letters of the last name thereof, the different kinds of property, the value of each kind, the amount of each owner's assessment, and the amount of assessment of each election district.
Section 11. The Board of Assessment shall have power to summon and to compel the attendance of witnesses and to compel the production of such books and papers as they may deem necessary in respect of any assessable property, in order to ascertain the true value thereof, and each member of said Board is empowered to administer oaths or affirmations. Any person, or the officer of any corporation, or agent, who shall fail, refuse or neglect to answer questions submitted by the said Board of Assessment, or any member thereof, in respect to assessable property, or shall fail, neglect or refuse to produce, when required, such books and papers as may be deemed necessary in respect of assessable property, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and, upon conviction, shall be fined or imprisoned, or both, in the discretion of the Court.
Section 12. 1128, Section 31 a: the Revised Code is repealed, in so far as it relates to Kent County.
Section 13. The Board of Assessment is empowered to employ necessary clerical force at compensations to be fixed by the Levy Court, whose duty shall be as prescribed by the said Board of Assessment.
Section 14. The Board of Assessment shall, on or before the first day of June in each year, prepare and furnish to the Levy Court duplicates of all the assessments and alterations, and corrections thereof, as made by the said Board, in books to be furnished by the Levy Court. The said Board shall have their offices in the County Court House, and the members thereof shall be present in person, or by clerks duly authorized to act for them, every secular day in the year, holidays excepted, to hear questions that may arise in reference to said assessments, and the said Board shall have the power to correct said assessment lists at any time, subject, however, to the notices required by this Act to be given. And for such purposes the said Board shall have authority to sit in convenient places in said County.
Section 15. Notices required to be given under the provisions of this Act, may be sent by mail, and when such notice is so sent the day of the mailing thereof, shall be deemed to be the day of the giving of said notice.
Section 16, The Board of Assessment shall have the power, and it shall be its duty to value and to assess all property which by law is liable to taxation, and to revise all valuations and assessments of such assessable property in said County, and to lower or increase said assessments and valuations, and to take proceedings for the discovery of all unassessed property.
Section 17. Whenever the Board of Assessment shall purpose to alter or change any assessment by increasing the same, or to make a new assessment other than a general or annual assessment, it shall, before said alteration, change or new assessment is made, give five days' notice in writing to the owner of the property affected thereby, and if such owner Cannot be found within the County by reasonable inquiry, then to the person in possession of the property, or to the person in whose custody the same may be, or, if it be land, and no one shall .be in the apparent occupancy thereof, then such notice shall be posted on said land.
Section 18. The Board of Assessment first appointed under the provisions of this Act shall forthwith proceed to make a general assessment of the assessable persons and property of persons in Kent County, which said assessment shall be returned so as to be acted upon for the year 1921.
Section 19. The Board of Assessment shall, on or before the 15th day of April of each year, post in some convenient place in each election district of the County, a copy of the Assessment of such election district as made by it. The said Board shall sit during each secular day, commencing on the fifteenth day of April and ending on the fifteenth day of May of each year, to hear appeals, and to make additions and corrections to said assessment. Notice of the places where said assessment is posted, and of the time and place of sittings to hear appeals, and to make additions and corrections as aforesaid, shall be given by advertisement published at least once each week for two weeks, in at least two newspapers in said county, and by such other means as will best bring notice of the same to persons interested. If any taxable shall fail or neglect to prefer his appeal to the Board of Assessment, he shall be liable for the tax for such year, as shown by the assessments lists.
Section 20. After the closing of hearings and the settlement of all appeals, and the adjustment of the assessment lists, the said Board shall ascertain the total of the assessed valuation of the County, and shall certify the same to the Levy Court on or before the first day of June, as a basis upon which to estimate and fix the tax rate; and the said Board shall likewise ascertain and report to the Levy Court the names of all persons liable to capitation tax.
Section 21. The Board of Assessment, immediately upon entering upon their duties, and in the month of January in every year thereafter, shall notify in writing every person, firm, association of persons, or corporation, who or which may own property liable to assessment, and every person, firm, association of persons or corporation, having the care, management or custody of real or personal property liable to assessment, to deliver to said Board of Assessment within twenty days after such notice, a particular account of the real or personal property owned by him, it, or them, or which is in his, its’ or their care, management or control, together with the correct name of such owner, and his place of residence, with the parcels of real estate separated and identified in a reasonable manner, and the articles of personal property, correctly itemized, and the true value of each parcel of real estate or item of personal property and such additional information as the Board of Assessment shall require on the form, and schedules for returns accompanying such written notices. The board of assessment shall have full power to compel any other or further return, as occasion may require, for the purpose of making additions, corrections or alterations to the assessment lists, or to perfect the same, or to equalize assessments.
Failure to render an account and return by any person liable so to do within ten days after the time limited for the making thereof, or the rendering of a false account or return, shall be a misdemeanor, and upon conviction such person shall be fined or imprisoned, or both, in the discretion of the Court; provided, however, that the said Board is empowered to stay a prosecution for any violation of the provisions of this section upon the making and filing of a proper return and account, and the payment of a sum of money for the use of the County, to be fixed by the Board, and the costs of prosecution, if any. A copy of this section shall accompany all written notices given hereunder.
The forms and schedules aforesaid shall have appended thereto a form of certificate, to be signed by the person making said return, or in case of a firm, association of persons, or corporation, by a member of such firm or association or by an officer of said corporation, that the return as made is a full, true and complete list of all real and personal property liable to assessment and taxation, and that said return fairly and truly described the said property and truly represents its condition and value.
Section 22. If any person making oath or affidavit required under the provision of the assessment laws relating to Kent County, shall swear falsely, he shall be guilty of a misdemeanor, and shall be subject to fine and imprisonment at the discretion of the Court.
Section 23. The Board of Assessment, or any member thereof, may personally inspect each tract or parcel of real estate returned by the owner thereof, on the forms and schedules aforesaid, and shall report in writing to said board their opinion as to its value; and if it shall appear that any property as returned, is not sufficiently valued, the Board of Assessment shall give notice thereof to the owner or person making such return and valuation, and shall fix a day, not less than five days after the date of said notice, for a hearing and determination.
If any taxable shall make complaint to the Board of Assessment that the real estate in any election district, as compared with other election districts, is not assessed in a fair and equitable manner, it shall be the duty of said Board, or some member thereof, to visit personally the said election district, and to inspect personally the properties the assessment of which is complained of, thereby to equalize and make perfect the assessments.
In making the annual assessments, the said Board is authorized and directed to examine carefully the assessment lists of towns, cities and school districts, and the books of registered voters of the preceding election, in order that no person, property of any person, may he omitted from the assessment lists. The said Board of Assessment, or some member thereof, shall, for the purpose aforesaid, visit in person each election district at least one day, and as often as it shall be necessary, to ascertain the names of persons in each election district liable to capitation tax, and the property of all such.
Section 24. It shall be the duty of the Recorder of Deeds to furnish monthly, to the Board of Assessors, descriptions of all real estate in deeds of conveyance, tiled with him for recording, the names of the grantors and grantees therein. It shall be the duty of the Register of Wills of said County to furnish, monthly to the Board or Assessors information on all real estate devised or descending, so far as the records or his office shall enable him so to do, and whether the same, if devised, he in trust or otherwise.
Section 25. All Acts, parts of Acts, or sections of the Revised Statutes, which are inconsistent herewith, or which are supplied hereby, are hereby repealed.
Approved April 28, A. D. 1920.