[1972, ch. 739, § 2; 1988, ch. 227, § 2]
Authorized. For the purpose of paying the interest and principal of the bonds issued by the County and loans entered by the County as provided in this chapter, for the water supply, sewerage or drainage systems to be constructed, purchased or established under this chapter, the County is hereby empowered to fix an annual assessment on all properties, improved or unimproved, abutting upon a street, road, lane, alley or right-of-way in which a water main, sewer or drain has been built. The annual assessment shall be made upon the front foot basis, and the first payment shall be collected during the year in which the construction is completed on the water main, sewerage or drainage systems, or in which the systems are purchased or acquired. At least 60 days before the beginning of each fiscal year, the County shall certify to the Director of Finance, in such manner as shall be prescribed by the Director of Finance, the annual benefit assessments to be collected for the year. The Director of Finance shall include such assessments so certified in the County tax bills for the properties affected and shall remit to the County at regular intervals the proceeds from the collection of the assessments. If construction of a water supply, sewerage or drainage system, or any part thereof, is completed after the beginning of any fiscal year, the properties benefited shall be assessed for the remainder of the year a portion of the annual assessments fixed by the County for the properties. The portion shall be determined by multiplying the annual assessment for the property by a fraction, the numerator being the number of months in such year in which service is available and the denominator being 12. The partial assessments may be certified to the Director of Finance not more often than once each quarter and, if so certified, shall be billed by the Director of Finance at the same time or times as County taxes for less than a full year are billed. If not so certified, the partial assessments shall be added to the assessments certified by the County for collection in the ensuing fiscal year. All sums collected by the County for benefits levied against the property for water, sewerage or drainage construction shall be set aside as a separate fund to be known and designated as the "Front Foot Benefit Assessment Fund."
[Amended 1991, ch. 309, § 1]
Classes of property. The County, for the purpose of assessing benefits, shall divide all properties in the sanitary district abutting upon a street, road, lane, alley or right-of-way in which a water pipe or sanitary sewer is to be laid into four classes, namely: agricultural, small acreage, industrial or business, and subdivision property; and the County may subdivide each of said classes in such manner as it may deem to be in the public interest. Whenever any water supply or sewerage project, or part thereof, in the sanitary district shall have been completed, the County shall fix and levy benefit assessments upon all properties in the sanitary district abutting upon said water main or sewer, in accordance with the classification or subdivision thereof, and shall, in writing, notify all owners of said properties into which class or subdivision their respective properties fall and the charge determined upon, naming also in said notice a time and place when and at which time said owner will be heard. Such notice may be mailed to the last known address of the owner, or served in person upon any adult occupying the premises or, in case of a vacant or unimproved property, be posted upon the premises.
Levy of assessment. The classification of and the benefit assessed against any property as made by the County shall be final, subject only to revision at said hearing. The County may change the classification of property from time to time as said properties change in the uses to which they are put. Said benefits shall be levied for water supply, sewerage, and drainage construction and shall be based for each class of property upon the number of front feet abutting upon the street, lane, road, alley or right-of-way in which the water pipe or sewer is placed; provided, however, that in the case of any irregularly shaped lot abutting upon a road, street, lane, alley or right-of-way in which there is or is being constructed a water main, sewer or drainage system at any point, said lot shall be assessed for such frontage as the County may determine to be reasonable and fair; and provided further that no lot in a subdivision property shall be assessed on more than one side, unless said lot abuts upon two parallel streets, or unless said lot is a corner lot, in either of which events said lot may be averaged and assessed upon such frontage as the County may deem reasonable and fair, and that all lots in the residential and industrial or business classification shall be assessed even though a water main may not extend along the full length of any boundary; and provided, further, that no land so classified as agricultural by the County shall be assessed a front foot benefit when said agricultural land has constructed through it or in front of it a sewer or water main until such time as the water or sewer connection is made, and when so made and for every connection such land shall become liable to a front foot assessment for such reasonable frontage not exceeding 300 feet, or as may be determined by the County, and shall be immediately assessed at the rate of assessment determined by the County for agricultural land.
Uniformity of assessment. Front foot benefit assessments for water supply and sewerage construction shall be as nearly uniform as is reasonably practical for each class or subclass of property throughout the sanitary district for any one year and no benefit charge, once levied, shall be increased; provided, however, that whenever the County acquires an existing system other than a municipal system, the construction of which has been added in whole or in part to the purchase price of land or lots abutting upon said system and which contribution the County has determined to be a factor in the cost to the County of such system, the County may, in its discretion, levy a front foot assessment less than the uniform front foot assessment levied in the remainder of the sanitary district.
Change in assessments. The amount of the assessment per front foot for each class of property for both water mains, sewers and drainage systems may be reduced from time to time by the County in its discretion, if costs and conditions are deemed by it to justify such reduction, but may be subsequently increased in the amount of the original assessment in the event revenues prove to be insufficient. Said benefit charge shall be paid annually by all properties located as above specified, for a period of years coextensive with the period of maturity of the bonds out of the proceeds of which such construction was done.
Connections. The County may at any time permit a connection with a water main or sewer by the property owner whose property does not abut upon a street, lane, road, alley or right-of-way in which a water main or sewer is placed and who has not previously paid a benefit charge for the construction of said water main or sewer, provided the County shall classify said property and determine a front foot charge to be paid by said property owner as though his or her property abutted upon a street, lane, road, alley or right-of-way in which a water main or sewer is placed; and in the event of such connection being made, said property owner and said property as to all charges, rates and benefits shall stand in every respect in the same position as if the property abutted upon such street, lane, road, alley or right-of-way.
The annual benefit assessment or other charges as above specified shall be a first lien upon the property against which they are assessed until paid, any statute of limitations to the contrary notwithstanding, subject only to prior state and County taxes. If any property on which there is such a lien is sold for state and/or County taxes, or both, by the Director of Finance, and if after sale there is a surplus after all costs and expenses incident to such sale shall have been paid, then the County, upon proper petition to the Circuit Court for said County, shall be allowed any balance from said surplus, and shall be a preferred lienor to the extent of its lien; and for the purpose of giving notice to the general public as to existing liens and charges against any property within the sanitary district, the County shall keep a public record of all names of owners of property, locations of said property, lot numbers when of record, and the amount of such benefit charges, water service charges or such other charges that may become liens from time to time. Said records shall be kept in the County seat of government and among the land records of Cecil County, and the Clerk of the Circuit Court for said County shall furnish such space as may be necessary to keep and preserve such records, which, when recorded in the land records, shall be legal notice of all existing liens within the sanitary district. If any liens, benefit assessments or other charges remain unpaid for 60 days after becoming due, they may be collected by a civil action to enforce such liens, and any judgment or decree obtained, where the defendants have been served by subpoena, or in any other manner provided by law, shall have the force and effect of a judgment in personam; and the County may sue to enforce such liens against the owner of record at the time said levy was made, or the owner of record at the time said suit is filed or any owner of record between said dates, and publication thereon shall be notice to all persons having any interest in said property. If any liens, benefit assessments or other charges shall be not paid within any fiscal year, the Director of Finance shall, upon certification of the County that said lien, benefit assessment or other charge is unpaid, sell such property of the delinquent taxpayer at the same time and in the same manner as other properties at a tax sale.
The certification of the County shall be made to the Tax Collector at least 90 days before tax sale and shall be in such form and shall contain such information as the Tax Collector may require. The manner and procedure relative to such sales by the Collector of Taxes shall in all respects conform to the procedures relating to tax sales set forth in the Annotated Code of Maryland.
[1972, ch. 264, § 1]
In any area where the County determines that public sewer, water or drainage facilities are needed and can be supplied by the County on a self-supporting basis, the County may prescribe boundary lines to encompass the area and it may refer to the area as a "sanitary subdistrict." In that subdistrict, in lieu of front foot benefit assessments, the County may impose an equal benefit assessment on each of the properties, or a benefit assessment on each of the properties calculated by a square footage benefit standard. The assessment shall be in whatever amount is required to pay the total cost of providing and installing public utilities for the sanitary subdistrict. Procedures as to public hearings and assessments shall be conducted as provided in § 97-17. If any lot owner in that sanitary subdistrict divides his lot, then water, sewer or drainage services shall be provided therefor, and the same assessment shall be imposed on the divided lot as on other properties.
[1972, ch. 739, § 2; 1991, ch. 309, § 1]
For the purpose of carrying out the provisions of this chapter, the County may make a charge for every drainage, sewer and water connection. The funds derived from the charges may be used for payment of principal and interest on bonds or loans, accumulating funds for capital improvements, for acquisition and construction of water and drainage sewer systems and the operation and maintenance thereof and for the purchase of equipment and supplies necessary to the operation of the County. Connection charges shall be established from time to time by the County. The connection charges may be based upon the reasonable classifications as the County may determine. The classifications may vary within any water, sewerage and drainage system and among any such systems depending on any special circumstances which the County finds exists. The charges shall not be limited to the costs to the County for making the connections. The County may determine the manner in which the charges shall be payable.
[1972, ch. 739, § 2; 1987, ch. 106, § 1; 1991, ch. 309, § 1]
For the purpose of providing funds for maintaining, repairing and operating its water supply, sewerage or drainage systems, and for its operation and other expenses, including property depreciation allowances, and for interest on and the retirement of bonds as specified in this article, and for paying loans entered under this chapter, the County may make the following charges:
A water and sewer service charge. The rates for water and sewer service shall consist of a minimum or ready-to-serve charge, which shall be based upon the size of the meter on the water connection leading to the property, and of a charge for water used, which shall be based upon the amount of water passing through the meter during the period between the last two readings. The meter shall be required to be placed on each water connection by and at the sole expense of the County, and it shall remain the property of the County. The rates shall be uniform throughout each system operated by the County but the County may make classifications as it deems advisable within any system based upon quantities of water used. If the County at any time shall not have meters available to install in all the properties in a given locality that are connected to the system, then a flat rate shall be charged on properties in which meters have not yet been installed, which rate shall be uniform in each sanitary system and based upon the ready-to-serve charge and the amount of water used. Bills for water and sewer charges shall be sent quarterly or semi-annually, as the County may determine, to each property served and shall be payable at the office of the Director of Finance or such other place as the County may designate. If any bill remains unpaid after 30 days from the date of sending, the County, after written notice left upon the premises or mailed to the last known address of the owner, shall turn off the water to the property in question; and the water shall not be turned on again until said bill has been paid, including a penalty of $25.
A charge for the construction and upkeep of drainage, water and sewer systems against all properties benefited by such drainage system or having a connection with any water main or sewer under its operation or ownership. The charge for the construction and upkeep of the drainage system and the water and sewer system, if any, shall be made upon such reasonable basis as the County may determine and shall be collected annually in the same manner as are front foot benefit assessments against all property benefited by such drainage system or having a connection within a water main or sewer under the operation or ownership of the County and shall be a lien against such property. Such charges shall be based upon such classifications as the County from time to time may establish and shall be uniform throughout each sanitary system within each such classification; provided, however, that no charge for the upkeep of water and sewer systems shall be made against any property in any year for which such property is currently subject to a front foot benefit assessment as elsewhere provided in this article.
[1972, ch. 739, § 2; 1987, ch. 105, § 1; 1988, ch. 221, § 1]
Front foot benefit assessments, water and sewer system upkeep charges, connection charges, drainage charges and other charges which the County is empowered to make pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall be liens upon the property served or benefited.
The liens shall be subject only to liens for state and County taxes.
Charges shall be due when made and after 30 days from that date shall bear interest at the rate of 1% per month.
Due dates and the interval between the dates need not be uniform throughout the sanitary district.
Liens established by this section may be enforced in court by the County against the property served or benefited.