[HISTORY: Adopted by the Board of Selectmen of the Town of Salem 2-9-2004; last amended 4-23-2007 (Ch. 310 of the 1995 Code). Subsequent amendments noted where applicable.]
The Board of Selectmen realizes the broad scope of the water and sewer system projects throughout the community and the need to continually manage, construct, enlarge, acquire, extend, and make improvements to the systems for continued reliability and availability of the systems to provide special benefit to those who are and may be served by such utility systems. Further the Board recognizes the general benefit to the customers of the municipal utility systems of sharing in the cost of extending system services to areas of the community not yet serviced and the resulting benefit provided to landowners by the availability of municipal water and sewer service. Therefore the purpose of this chapter is to provide high-quality, available and reasonably reliable water and sewer resources, to the benefit of current and future users, as funded through the combination of the user rate and reasonable and equitable assessments across all user types, by assessing those creating a new demand through new connections and/or modifying the demand of an existing connection to the Town of Salem public water system and/or the public sanitary sewer system.
As used in this chapter, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- The presence of a reasonably reliable and quality water and sewer system to the extent that such system provides special benefit and is made or can be made available to those who are or will benefit from such systems. The obligation to provide accessibility to the water and sewer systems shall not solely be the obligation of the Town.
- The advantage, enhancement, and/or facilitation of use or development derived from the availability of sewer and water services throughout the community and specifically to parcels that currently or in the future will be permitted to connect to the sewer and water system.
- CONSTRUCTION COSTS
- The sum of all costs incurred for the utility extension, including design, engineering, right-of-way acquisition, construction, construction supervision, traffic control, legal and bonding expenses, interest on debt and other reasonable ancillary expenses.
- COST OF DEMAND AND AVAILABILITY
- The cost of the increase in demand and to provide reasonable availability as expressed by the projects in the document "Town of Salem, NH Town-wide Sewer and Water Buildout Estimated Costs and Demand Flows." This document represents the estimated total cost of projects and the estimated increases in capacity to allow for demand and provide for reasonable and continual availability. The document may be amended from time to time as projects are amended, completed, or added to the document. The document represents projects that have been, are or will be planned as part of a Town-wide plan for the water and sewer systems and not the sole limit of the possible use of revenues generated by this chapter.
- The projected flow/discharge of water or sewer to/from a particular land use as indicated by the document titled "Town of Salem Flow Demand and Benefit Values." Where a use is proposed that is not listed in the document, the Town may determine that the use is similar to a use listed in the document or the Town may use national or other reasonable standards to make such determination.
- NOT BUILDABLE
- Not eligible for a building permit at the time a utility extension occurs.
- A parcel of land, otherwise known as a "lot," that is privately owned and segregated by deed from adjacent properties.
- A waterline extending from a water distribution main, or a sewer line ("stub") extending from a sewer collector main, to a point at or near the property line of a parcel.
- SEWER DEMAND AND BENEFIT ASSESSMENT
- The revenue collected from those who derive special benefit from the sewer system to pay for the cost of the demand on, and provide availability to, the Town of Salem's sewer system, including the management, creation, improvement, extension and expansion of wastewater collection and treatment, pumping, and all other facilities that generally provide for collection and treatment of sewage.
- SYSTEM-WIDE BENEFIT
- Benefit derived from projects, construction, enhancements, expansion, utility extensions or other improvements which can be attributed to the entire water and/or sewer system and are distinguishable from improvements which are attributable to the planned improvements made for the benefit of a parcel or parcels. The Town may determine and allocate a portion of the value of improvements to a system-wide benefit.
- The Town of Salem, Rockingham County, New Hampshire, a municipality of the State of New Hampshire, acting by and through its Selectmen with the Town Manager serving as their designee.
- USER FEES
- Fees charged to individual customers for their measured use of a service or consumption of a product.
- UTILITY EXTENSION
- Extension of an existing water or sewer main beyond the then current extent of the system so as to make service available to the abutters to the extension.
- WATER DEMAND AND BENEFIT ASSESSMENT
- The revenue collected from those who derive special benefit from the sewer system to pay for the cost of the demand on, and availability of, the Town of Salem's water facilities, including the management, creation, improvement, extension and expansion of treatment, pumping, storage, protection of supply, and transmission facilities that generally provide water to the local distribution networks.
Demand and benefit assessment established. Water and sewer demand and benefit assessments are hereby established and may be revised from time to time by the Board of Selectmen. The application of this chapter shall be required of all applicable properties coinciding with the date of the adoption.
Assessment payment to be made. Payment is considered as made at the time, manner and form as established by the Town Finance Department. Payment shall include the option of a lump sum payment or the establishment of a payment plan in accordance with the terms and conditions established by the Town.
Payment options. The payment options are pursuant to the Town procedures. In the event of the sale or transfer of the assessed premises by the owner, the obligations established shall transfer to the successor owner. As provided for in RSA 38:22, the Town may place a lien on the property for nonpayment of the demand and benefit assessment.
Assessment allocation of demand and benefit.
The cost of expanding the system to those areas of Salem where it is economically appropriate has been estimated based on design and economic analyses. The increase in demand for water supply and demand on the capacity of the existing sewer system has also been estimated. The cost of providing a unit of capacity of water supply, or a unit of capacity of wastewater disposal, has been determined from those capacity and cost estimates. The unit capital cost of water supply, treatment capacity, and distribution has been determined as a dollar value per gallon per day of water delivery capacity. The unit capital cost for wastewater collection and transmission facilities has been determined as a dollar value per gallon per day of demand. Based on these values the following is the allocation of costs as expressed by the document titled "Town of Salem, NH Town-wide Sewer and Water Buildout Estimated Costs and Demand Flows":
Fifty percent of the capital cost for water and sewer service will be assessed to those who are newly served by the water and sewer system, and to those who increase their demand on the system, based on the unit cost for providing water supply and wastewater disposal capacity to meet the increased demand. Each user of new or increased capacity will be assessed a charge based on the demand required by that user, as expressed by the document titled "Flow Demand and Benefit Values" and the unit capital cost to provide that capacity or meet that demand.
Fifty percent of the capital cost for providing new or increased water or sewer service will be paid by water and sewer rate revenues that are based on the amount of water withdrawn from or wastewater discharged to the system by all of the customers connected to the system.
Recognizing that it is not possible to exactly balance the capital cost expenditure and assessment revenue at all times, the capital costs and debt service not paid by the assessments will be paid from water and sewer rate revenues. It is intended and expected that, over the duration of the debt service period for the construction programs, the assessments and allocations of costs will approximate the intended ratios. Notwithstanding the references to water and sewer rates together in this section, the water and sewer funds are and will remain separate and the assessments for each are determined separately.
Wavier for related assessments. Waivers from this chapter, whether now or in the future, may be allowed for a property or properties with payment agreements with the Town, as part of the overall Town-wide water and/or sewer projects, or as an agreement between the Town, as recognized and established through the Board of Selectmen, and resident property owners, for construction of water and/or sewer infrastructure. Such waiver may be granted by a vote of the Board of Selectmen at a public meeting. The wavier shall apply to the one agreement and/or prior payments for the specific properties which are part of said payment agreement or other agreements and not future extensions, expansions or changes to the property or properties. Upon request by the Board of Selectmen, the Finance Department shall determine applicable projects defined by a betterment and/or agreement and shall supply a list of applicable properties to the Board for consideration of the waiver.
Assessment for new users. The owner of any land or structure which connects to or is within an area of an available utility extension of the Town sewer and/or water system shall pay a water and/or sewer demand and benefit assessment as applicable at the time of application for the certificate of occupancy pursuant to municipal codes herein. Where the new connection does not require a certificate of occupancy, then assessment shall occur at the time that the water and/or sewer is made available to the property. Properties served by utility extensions conducted by private concerns without Town funds shall be charged a demand and benefit assessment at the time of the certificate of occupancy or connection. In all cases there shall be a minimum charge in accordance with the document "Flow Demand and Benefit Values."
Assessment for changes in use. If change in use as defined by the document "Flow Demand and Benefit Values" is reasonably expected to increase the demand on water consumption and sewer discharge, then the owner of the structure shall pay an additional water and/or sewer demand and benefit assessment based on the increase in the demand as compared to the prior use or expansion to the new use or expansion. The change in the use of the land and/or structure shall be determined to occur at the time of application for the certificate of occupancy for such change. Where the change may not require a certificate of occupancy the change shall be considered to occur at the time of change of use or other like permit from the Town of Salem.
Assessment for change in operations/equipment. If change, alteration or modification in equipment, area and/or operations, for a commercial account, is reasonably expected to increase the demand on water consumption and sewer discharge by 10% over the average flow in the highest billing period, then the Town shall assess the owner an additional water and/or sewer demand and benefit assessment based on the increase in the demand as measured from the prior billing period. For the purpose of this section, increase in demand shall not include increase or peaks associated with accidental increase by emergency circumstances which result in the release of water or inflow into the sewer.
Credits in lieu of system improvements. Where as a condition of the Town for making connections to the sewer and/or water system the property owner, developer, or other representative makes improvements to the water and/or sewer system within the public domain, and where the improvement is determined by the Town to be of a system-wide benefit to the water and/or sewer system and not directly related or attributed only to the development, such improvement may be used as a direct credit to lower the amount of the initial demand and benefit assessment. The credit may not be applied to other projects throughout the community and is limited to the original project from which the system-wide improvements resulted. The amount of such credit, as approved by the Town, shall be based on the completed construction costs for those system-wide improvements only. Such determination shall be reviewed and certified by the Town, which may use reasonable standards and make modifications and amendments to the construction costs. The Town may allow for system-wide construction credit that may occur within five years of the first connection where the Town requests a delay in the system-wide construction. Such credits shall serve to lower the obligation of the initial assessment and shall not be distributed as a payment or refund. The Town will not provide direct payments for credits that are greater than the demand and benefit assessment. Approval of credits shall occur by a petition filed by the property owner or duly authorized representative and through a public hearing before the Board of Selectmen, with evidence in the manner and form as prescribed by the Town. The Board of Selectmen in reaching its determination may hire consultants at a reasonable cost to be borne by the petitioner.
Petition for adjustment of assessment. If within one year of the payment of the first demand and benefit assessment charge the property owner, of property with a commercial account, with a petition to a public hearing of the Board of Selectmen can prove that the use of the property is less than the demand as defined by the Town of Salem, the Board may choose to adjust the assessment. The Board of Selectmen in reaching its determination may hire consultants at a reasonable cost to be borne by the petitioner.
Reduction refunds not issued. Notwithstanding Subsection E above, no refund of a demand and benefit assessment will be issued by the Town on account of reduction in the consumption of water or sewer demand.
Town demand review. The Town reserves the right at any time to review demand on the water and/or sewer system placed by properties, and if as a result of the review the Town finds increases, the Town may choose to levy an assessment as deemed appropriate.
Municipal exemption. This chapter shall not apply to the facilities of the Town of Salem, its municipal and school departments, and Town-created public bodies as identified on a list approved, and as may be amended, by the Board of Selectmen at a regular meeting. (Note: Referenced list is on file with the Board of Selectmen.)
Assessment regardless of connection. Except as otherwise specified in this section, a service shall be installed to service each parcel of land abutting newly constructed utility extensions. Each parcel so serviced shall have a demand and benefit assessment applied regardless of a connection status. In the case of private utility extension which is not funded by the Town, the Board may allow demand and benefit assessment at the time of connection where the properties are incidental to the route and not part of the development plans.
Subdividable parcels. Where frontage is sufficient to support subdivision along the street, a sufficient number of services may be installed at the owner's request to service future parcels. Each service shall constitute a separate assessment.
Large land tracts. Where large tracts of land abut the utility extension, owners may be granted larger than typical services for which they shall be required to pay the incremental difference in cost thereof prior to installation. The Town reserves the right to reject requests it deems inappropriate. Should the size of the service requested be unsuitable for actual development at a later date, then the full costs of changing the size or type of the service shall be borne by the property owner.
Nonbuildable parcels. A property owner may petition the Board to request a determination that his property is impacted in such a way by zoning, wetlands, topography, or other fundamental restrictions to render it not buildable. The Board may act to remove the property from requiring a demand and benefit assessment, provided that the property owner enters onto his deed in perpetuity a development restriction acceptable to the Board. The Town reserves the right to reject requests it deems inappropriate. If a request for a service to a parcel originally deemed nonbuildable is made after the utility improvement construction has passed by the subject property, such a service shall be installed and the full cost of the connection shall be born by the owner who shall also pay a demand and benefit assessment.
Assessment term. Such parcel assessments shall be billed in equal portions annually for a period of time equal to the term of the related debt, but not longer than 20 years. In the event no debt is incurred, the Board shall set a reasonable term. Such bills shall be issued in accordance with Town policies.
Recording required. Demand and benefit assessments shall be recorded in the Rockingham County Registry of Deeds and shall serve as a lien on the assessed property as provided for in RSA 38:22. The recorded document shall stipulate that upon the transfer of a parcel bearing a demand and benefit assessment, the unpaid portion of the assessment shall also transfer to the new owner.
Notices to owners. Owners of property shall be notified by mail of the utility extension at least 120 days prior to the availability of service. Owner requests for correction to the property status indicated by the Town and/or alternate service installations shall be in writing and received by the Town not more than 30 days after receipt of such notification. Such requests shall be subject to evaluation by the Town.
Utility extension extent. The Board shall determine the geographic extent of the utility extension in which it intends to apply demand and benefit assessments applicable to each parcel. Inclusion of a planned utility extension in a statutory bond or budget hearing shall constitute compliance with this section.