Bill Text - HB1458 (2014)

Authorizing towns and cities to establish special assessment districts.


Revision: March 27, 2014, midnight

HB 1458 – AS INTRODUCED

2014 SESSION

14-2209

10/03

HOUSE BILL 1458

AN ACT authorizing towns and cities to establish special assessment districts.

SPONSORS: Rep. Bickford, Straf 3; Sen. Forrester, Dist 2

COMMITTEE: Municipal and County Government

ANALYSIS

This bill allows a town or city to establish one or more special assessment districts to provide public facilities and services and for which special assessments and charges may be levied and collected to pay for those public facilities and services.

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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

14-2209

10/03

STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE

In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Fourteen

AN ACT authorizing towns and cities to establish special assessment districts.

Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:

1 Purpose. It is the intent and purpose of this act to:

I. Authorize a town or city to finance public facilities, enhance economic development, and retain economic viability through the levying and collection of special assessments;

II. Provide a mechanism for towns and cities to levy and collect special assessments from property to recover the cost of providing public facilities that peculiarly benefit the property upon which they are imposed;

III. Define the procedural and substantive requirements for special assessments and special assessment districts for capital costs and service charges of public facilities covered in a master plan element of a town or city;

IV. Shift the financing of public facilities from all taxpayers to those who specifically benefit from such public facilities; and

V. Authorize a town or city to establish special assessment districts and levy special assessments for the purpose of providing public facilities to benefit property owners in such designated special assessment districts.

2 New Chapter; Special Assessment Districts. Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 52 the following new chapter:

CHAPTER 52-A

SPECIAL ASSESSMENT DISTRICTS

52-A:1 Definitions. In this chapter:

I. “Master plan” means a plan adopted in accordance with RSA 674:2.

II. “Development” means any construction or expansion of a building or structure, any change in the use of a building or structure, or any land use change that affects a local government’s need for public facilities.

III. “Proportionate share of the benefits” means that share, or portion, of the value of the total public facilities and service which specially and peculiarly benefits the property upon which they are imposed, and in no event shall such share or portion be in excess of the benefits such property receives by reason of such improvement.

IV. “Public facilities” means capital improvements, including, but not limited to, transportation, sanitary sewer, solid waste, drainage, potable water, educational, parks and recreational, and health systems and facilities that have a life expectancy of 3 or more years.

V. “Public services” means the performance by employees, consultants, or agents of functions, operations, design, engineering, planning and maintenance, and repair activities in order to provide public facilities.

VI. “Special assessment” means a charge imposed upon property located within a designated special assessment district by a town or city to pay for public facilities and services which peculiarly and specially benefit the property upon which they are imposed.

VII. “Special assessment district” means the district in which public facilities and services are to be provided and in which special assessments and charges may be levied and collected pursuant to this chapter to pay for those public facilities and services.

52-A:2 Authority.

I. Consistent with the provisions of this chapter, any town or city may adopt provisions authorizing it to establish, and subsequently merge or abolish those created hereunder, special assessment districts for any part or all of the area of such town or city, within which may be provided public facilities and services from funds derived from service charges, special assessments, or other charges within such special assessment district.

II. For the purpose of providing public facilities and services within any special assessment district, the town or city may levy and collect service charges, special assessments, or other charges within such special assessment district, and borrow and expend money, and issue bonds, revenue certificates, and other obligations of indebtedness, which powers shall be exercised in such manner, and subject to such limitations, as may be provided by general law of the state, in furtherance of the provision of the public facilities and services authorized by this chapter.

III. The provisions of this chapter shall not affect or limit any other provisions of law authorizing or providing for the furnishing of public facilities and services or the raising of revenue for these purposes. A town or city may use the provisions of this chapter instead of, or in conjunction with, any other method of financing part or all of the cost of providing the public facilities and services authorized under this chapter.

52-A:3 Requirements for Special Assessment Districts. A special assessment district shall meet the following requirements:

I. Public facilities and services for which special assessments are levied and collected must peculiarly and specially benefit the property upon which the special assessments are imposed.

II. Special assessments levied and collected pursuant to a designated special assessment district shall not exceed a proportionate share of the benefits received by the property upon which the special assessments are imposed.

III. The proportionate share of the benefits received by the property upon which a special assessment is imposed shall be calculated and apportioned by using any equitable means of assessment and apportionment which the governing body of a local government may prescribe including, but not limited to, square footage, front-footage, increased value, number of dwelling units, distance from the public facility, traffic generation, or other impact generation factors, or any combination thereof.

52-A:4 Procedures for Initiation of Special Assessment Districts.

I. Proceedings for the establishment of a special assessment district may be instituted by petition requesting the institution of such proceeding and signed by the number of registered voters within the proposed district required by subparagraph (c) and filed with the governing body. A petition shall:

(a) Describe the boundaries of the territory which is proposed for inclusion in the special assessment district.

(b) State the type or types of public facilities and services to be provided within the special assessment district.

(c) Be signed by not less than a number of registered voters residing within the district equal to at least 20 percent of the number of votes cast within the special assessment district in the municipality at the last regular municipal election, or of at least 50 percent of the property owners within the proposed district, or by the owners of at least 65 percent of the assessed valuation within the proposed district.

II. If the governing body finds that the petition is signed by the requisite number of petitioners under subparagraph I(c), that finding shall be final and conclusive.

52-A:5 Ordinance Establishing Special Assessment District. Within 30 days after a petition requesting the institution of proceedings for the establishment of a special assessment district is properly filed with it, the governing body of the town or city shall adopt an ordinance establishing a special assessment district in the form hereinafter specified.

I. Proceedings for the establishment of a special assessment district shall be instituted by the adoption of an ordinance establishing the special assessment district which shall:

(a) State that a special assessment district is established under the terms of this chapter and describe the boundaries of the territory proposed for inclusion in the special assessment district.

(b) State the name proposed for the special assessment district in substantially the following form: “__________ Special Assessment District.”

(c) State the type or types of public facilities and services proposed to be provided within the special assessment district pursuant to this chapter.

(d) State that, except to the extent that funds are otherwise available and committed, a special assessment sufficient to pay for all such public facilities and services will be annually levied and collected within such special assessment district. The ordinance shall specify the rate and method of apportionment of the special assessment in sufficient detail to allow each landowner or resident within the special assessment district to estimate the annual amount that he or she will have to pay.

II. Public hearing and notice.

(a) A public hearing shall be held by the governing body at least 10 days prior to the adoption, amendment, merger, or abolition of a special assessment district.

(b) Notice shall be provided in accordance with the provisions of RSA 675:7 but shall require at least 15 days but no more than 30 days prior to the public hearing. Notice shall:

(1) Contain the text of the ordinance.

(2) State the time and place of the hearing.

(3) State that at the hearing testimony will be heard of all interested persons or taxpayers for or against the establishment of the special assessment district, the extent of the district, or the furnishing of specified types of public facilities or services.

III. Protests.

(a) At the public hearing, protests against the establishment of the special assessment district, the extent of the district, or the furnishing of specified types of public facilities or services within the special assessment district may be made orally or in writing by any interested person or taxpayer. Any protests pertaining to the regularity or sufficiency of the proceeding shall be in writing and shall clearly set forth the irregularities and defects to which objection is made. All written protests shall be filed with the clerk of the governing body on or before the time fixed for the hearing. The governing body may waive any irregularities in the form or content of any written protest and at the hearing may correct minor defects in the proceedings. Written protests may be withdrawn in writing at any time before the conclusion of the hearing.

(b) If 50 percent or more of the registered voters residing within the territory proposed to be included in the special assessment district, or the owners of 1/2 or more of the area of the land in the territory proposed to be included in the special assessment district, file written protests against the establishment of the special assessment district, the governing body shall abandon the proposed establishment of the special assessment district.

(c) If such majority protests of the registered voters or of the landowners are only against the furnishing of a specified type or types of public facilities or services within the special assessment district, or against levying a specified rate or special assessment, those types of public facilities or services or the specified rate or special assessment shall be eliminated from the ordinance finally establishing the special assessment district.

IV. Boundaries of district. In establishing the boundaries of a special assessment district, the governing body may alter the exterior boundaries of a special assessment district to include less territory than that described in the notice of the public hearing, but it may not include any territory not described in the notice of the public hearing.

V. Types of public facilities and services provided. In designating the types of public facilities to be provided in a special assessment district, the governing body may eliminate one or more of the types of public facilities and services specified in the ordinance establishing the special assessment district, but it may not include any types of public facilities and services not specified in the ordinance.

52-A:6 Collection of Special Assessments and Service Charges. The special assessment shall be collected in the same manner as ad valorem property taxes are collected and be subject to the same penalties and the same procedure and sale in case of delinquency as provided for ad valorem property taxes. The town or city shall commit a special assessment to the tax collector with a warrant signed by the appropriate municipal officials requiring the tax collector to collect them. The tax collector shall have the same rights and remedies, including a lien on the real estate, and be subject to the same liabilities in relation thereto as in the collection of taxes as provided in RSA 80. The tax collector or the appropriate town or city official responsible for collecting the special assessments may deduct a service charge for the reasonable administrative costs incurred in collecting the special assessment.

52-A:7 Use of Proceeds. Any special assessments collected pursuant to this chapter shall only be used, in whole or in part, for public facilities and services authorized by this chapter or for the payment of the principal and interest of bonds, revenue certificates, and other obligations of indebtedness for such public facilities and services.

52-A:8 Issuance of Bonds and Other Indebtedness.

I. After the public hearing establishing a special assessment district and approving the levying and collection of the special assessments for public facilities and services as provided by this chapter, and as soon as a contract for the public facilities and services has been finally let, the governing body may by the procedure in this section authorize the issuance of bonds, revenue certificates, or other indebtedness not in excess of the aggregate amount of the liens levied for such public facilities and services.

II. The governing body of a municipality may place on the ballot at an annual meeting or call a duly noticed special meeting for the purpose of authorizing the issuance of bonds or notes for the purposes of the special assessment district. A special meeting held under this section shall have the same authority as that of an annual town meeting, and shall not require court permission. The issuance of such bonds or notes shall be authorized by a majority vote of the voters present and voting at the special meeting.

III. All bonds or notes authorized in accordance with this section shall be issued under the procedures in RSA 33, provided that the payments on the bond and note shall be made only from special assessment district revenues.

IV. Any such debt shall at no time be included in the net indebtedness of said municipality for the purpose of ascertaining its borrowing capacity under RSA 33.

52-A:9 Priority of Lien. A special assessment shall be payable at the time and in the manner indicated in the ordinance providing for the special assessment; shall remain a lien, co-equal with the lien of all state, county, district, and municipal taxes, superior in dignity to all other liens, titles, and claims until paid.

3 Effective Date. This act shall take effect 60 days after its passage.

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