TITLE 7

Conservation

Agricultural and Soil Conservation; Drainage and Reclamation of Lowlands

CHAPTER 41. DRAINAGE OF LANDS AND MANAGEMENT OF WATERS; TAX DITCHES

Subchapter IV. Powers of Tax Ditch


(a) The Division of Watershed Stewardship, at its earliest convenience after the ditch order becomes final, shall call a meeting of the taxables for the purpose of organizing the proposed tax ditch, including the election of ditch managers, as called for in the ditch order, and a secretary-treasurer; the formulation of a plan for constructing, financing, administering and maintaining the proposed tax ditch; and for levying taxes to cover the costs of construction and maintenance.

(b) The Division of Watershed Stewardship shall send a notice to every taxable, by first-class mail to that landowner's address as currently recorded by the board of assessment of the county, at least 10 days prior to that meeting, stating the time, place and object of the meeting.

(c) A notice of the meeting shall be sent to the chairperson of the board of supervisors of the county soil conservation district.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 33; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4151; 50 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 23; 59 Del. Laws, c. 560, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 77 Del. Laws, c. 430, § 19.;

(a) At the organization meeting of the tax ditch, the Division of Watershed Stewardship shall deliver to the managers, when elected, a certified copy of the ditch order and a copy of this chapter, together with all effective amendments thereto.

(b) The Division of Watershed Stewardship shall deliver a copy of the assessment list prepared under § 4129 of this title, as modified by the ditch order, to the board of assessment of the county, making such changes in the names of the owners thereon as are warranted by transfers, to new owners, of lands assessed.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 34; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4152; 50 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 24; 59 Del. Laws, c. 560, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 246, § 38; 77 Del. Laws, c. 430, § 20.;

In addition to the Division of Watershed Stewardship, the county soil conservation district may be represented at the organization meeting by 1 member of the board of district supervisors.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 35; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4153; 59 Del. Laws, c. 560, § 2; 77 Del. Laws, c. 430, § 21.;

At all meetings, each landowner shall be entitled to the same number of votes as the number of dollars assessed against the land of such owner in the ditch order. In the event that any lands are held by tenants in common or joint tenants, each such tenant in common or joint tenant shall be entitled to the same number of votes as his or her fractional share of the total number of dollars assessed against said lands. In the case of lands held by a husband and wife as tenants by the entirety, either the husband or wife may vote all the dollars assessed against their lands.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 36; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4154; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

Any person entitled to vote pursuant to § 4154 of this title may authorize another landowner within the tax ditch to cast his or her votes in that person's stead by executing a proxy. The proxy shall be signed, dated and notarized.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 37; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4155; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

(a) At the first meeting the taxables shall elect from their group the number of ditch managers specified in the ditch order, and a secretary-treasurer.

(b) The term of office of each ditch manager and of the secretary-treasurer shall be 1 year. If the ditch managers and secretary-treasurer first elected are elected prior to July 1 of any year, the time elapsing between said election and the first annual January meeting provided for in § 4159 of this title shall be deemed to constitute the first year of their terms of office. However, if the ditch managers and secretary-treasurer first elected are elected on or after July 1 of any year, their terms of office shall not be deemed to begin until the said first annual January meeting, although they shall assume the duties and responsibilities of their respective offices immediately upon election.

(c) In the event that any tax ditch officer dies, resigns, ceases to be 1 of the taxables, or is removed from office, the remaining ditch officers shall within 60 days, appoint a taxable to serve the remainder of the term of such officer. However, except in the case of death or removal from office, each tax ditch officer shall continue to serve until a successor has been appointed.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 38; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4156; 50 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 25; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 246, § 39.;

Immediately after they are elected, the ditch managers shall designate 1 of their number to serve as chairperson. The chairperson shall call meetings of the ditch managers and taxables and shall preside thereat.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 39; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4157; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

Tax ditch managers and the secretary-treasurer may be entitled to receive compensation at a rate to be determined by a majority of the eligible votes of those taxables present at the first meeting provided for in § 4159 of this title. The rate of compensation for the tax ditch managers and secretary-treasurer may be revised only at a regular annual meeting of the taxables.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 40; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4158.;

At the first meeting the taxables shall set a date for the regular annual meeting. This date may not be changed except by action of a majority of the taxables present at a regular annual meeting. The chairperson of the ditch managers may call special meetings at such times as the circumstances warrant. At least 10 days' notice of all meetings shall be given by the ditch managers using either of the following methods:

(1) By publishing in a newspaper of general circulation in the area of a tax ditch, and by posting at 5 conspicuous places in or near the area of said tax ditch, a notice stating the time, place and object of the meeting; or

(2) By mailing to each affected taxable at the address currently shown on the records of the board of assessment of the county, a notice stating the time, place and object of the meeting.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 41; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4159; 50 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 26; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1; 70 Del. Laws, c. 246, § 40.;

The ditch managers shall meet as often as necessary to properly conduct the business of the tax ditch. At such meetings a majority of the ditch managers shall constitute a quorum and the concurrence of a majority in any matter within their duties shall be required for its determination.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 42; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4160.;

A tax ditch organized under this chapter, being a governmental subdivision of this State and a public body, corporate and politic may exercise public powers and, in addition to such other powers as usually pertain to corporations, may:

(1) Levy taxes;

(2) Sue and be sued in the name of the tax ditch, and suits against the tax ditch shall be governed by subchapter I of Chapter 40 of Title 10;

(3) Make and execute contracts and other instruments necessary or convenient to the exercise of its powers;

(4) Borrow money for the purpose of constructing, maintaining and administering the tax ditch;

(5) Acquire, by purchase, exchange, lease, gift, grant, bequest, devise or otherwise, any property, real or personal, or any rights or interests therein;

(6) Cooperate, or enter into agreements with the state or federal governments or any agency or subdivision thereof;

(7) Exercise the power of eminent domain, in accordance with the condemnation procedure prescribed in Chapter 61 of Title 10, with respect to lands outside the boundaries of the tax ditch which are needed for right-of-way or outlet purposes;

(8) Accept contributions from landowners assessed in the tax ditch, and disburse such funds for the purposes of performing certain operations, such as, but not limited to, additional clearing or the installation of structures, which operations are authorized in the tax ditch order, but which are not included in the original estimated construction requirements and costs;

(9) Call upon the Division of Watershed Stewardship for assistance with administrative and operations problems of the tax ditch;

(10) After initial construction has been completed, and with the prior approval of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, and with written consent of more than one half of the landowners involved, owning more than 1/2 of the drainage area assessed:

a. Transfer to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control:

1. The responsibility for certain specified responsibilities for maintenance of the tax ditch;

2. All rights-of-way assigned by court order to the tax ditch for construction and maintenance operations;

3. Any and all powers possessed by the tax ditch, or the managers thereof, related to obstruction of, or damage to said tax ditch, or to the addition of territory to a tax ditch, or to the alteration of a tax ditch.

b. Discontinue annual and other meetings of taxables and of tax ditch managers, except that when maintenance has been transferred to the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, that body shall call a meeting of the taxables upon a written request from at least 3 of such taxables.

c. Discontinue tax ditch managers and secretary-treasurer as long as no meetings are being held.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 43; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4161; 50 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 27; 55 Del. Laws, c. 461; 57 Del. Laws, c. 739, §§ 185-187; 59 Del. Laws, c. 560, § 2; 70 Del. Laws, c. 246, § 41; 77 Del. Laws, c. 430, § 22.;

In addition to the duties specified in other sections of this chapter, the ditch managers shall:

(1) Determine from the taxables the desired program of operations;

(2) Determine the amount of taxes to be levied to carry out such desired program;

(3) Secure specific authority for borrowing money, in the name of the tax ditch, by a majority vote of the taxables present at a duly called meeting of the tax ditch;

(4) At the first meeting, or within 30 days thereafter, prepare, with the assistance of the Division of Watershed Stewardship, a comprehensive plan for carrying out the desired program, which plan shall include provisions for levying taxes and for financing the program;

(5) Execute warrants, with the assistance of the Division of Watershed Stewardship, to the receiver of taxes and county treasurer authorizing and requesting the collection of all tax ditch taxes other than maintenance taxes;

(6) Execute a warrant, with the assistance of the Division of Watershed Stewardship, to the receiver of taxes and county treasurer authorizing and requesting the annual collection of a tax in the amount of 2 percent of the total assessment base, or in the amount of 2 percent of the total benefits for tax ditches previously formed under the original provisions of this chapter, said warrant to be marked plainly as being for annual maintenance taxes, and to be issued simultaneously with the issuance of the first warrant for the collection of taxes for construction purposes;

(7) Make a report, at the annual meeting, of their activities during the year preceding such annual meeting;

(8) Provide for construction work on the tax ditch;

(9) Provide for adequate maintenance of the tax ditch.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 47; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4162; 50 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 28; 59 Del. Laws, c. 560, § 2; 77 Del. Laws, c. 430, § 23.;

In addition to any powers and duties set forth elsewhere in this chapter, the secretary-treasurer of the tax ditch shall:

(1) Keep accurate minutes of all meetings of the ditch managers and taxables, and such minutes shall be a part of the permanent records of the tax ditch;

(2) Prepare a complete financial statement at the end of each calendar year, including therein an itemized report of all funds received, all funds expended, all funds due from taxes not yet collected and all sums due and owing by the tax ditch, and this statement and the records of the secretary-treasurer shall be audited annually by 2 qualified persons and shall become part of the permanent records of the tax ditch;

(3) Provide for the safekeeping of any funds of the tax ditch which are placed in his or her custody;

(4) Attend all meetings of the ditch managers and taxables.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 52; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4163; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

The secretary-treasurer shall, before assuming the duties of his or her office and within 15 days after his or her election, furnish a bond in favor of the tax ditch, in an amount satisfactory to the ditch managers and with a surety to be approved by the ditch managers, conditioned for the faithful performance of his or her duties and for the payment to his or her successor of all tax ditch funds. If any person elected secretary-treasurer neglects or refuses to give bond as aforesaid within the time specified, his or her right to hold such office shall be terminated, and the ditch managers shall call a special meeting of the taxables to elect a new secretary-treasurer who shall give bond and security as provided in this section.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 53; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4164; 58 Del. Laws, c. 240, § 4; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

If any officer of a tax ditch fails to perform the duties imposed on him or her by this chapter, any taxable may petition the Superior Court from which the ditch order was issued and request an order directing said officer to carry out his or her duties, and upon his or her failure to comply with the order within the time stated therein, the taxable may further petition the Superior Court for the removal of the officer.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 63; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4165; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

Any note, bond, warrant or other instrument issued by a tax ditch pursuant to this chapter shall be signed by the chairperson of the ditch managers and the chairperson's signature shall be attested by the secretary-treasurer of the tax ditch.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 44; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4166; 70 Del. Laws, c. 186, § 1.;

No ditch manager or other officer of a tax ditch shall be held personally liable for the obligations of the tax ditch. The tax ditch shall indemnify the ditch managers or other officers in accordance with § 4003 of Title 10 for all tort claims.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 45; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4167; 70 Del. Laws, c. 246, § 42.;

A tax ditch may borrow money pursuant to this chapter with the consent of a majority of the votes cast at a meeting duly called under § 4159 of this title. No tax ditch shall borrow money in excess of 90 percent of the total assessment base established by the ditch order.

48 Del. Laws, c. 151, § 46; 7 Del. C. 1953, § 4168; 50 Del. Laws, c. 276, § 29.;