DISCLAIMER

PUBLIC WORKS AND UTILITIES COMMITTEE


08-054-O


ORDINANCE NO. __________


AN ORDINANCE AMENDING AND REPLACING CHAPTER IX OF THE DULUTH CITY CHARTER, PERTAINING TO LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS AND SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS.

CITY PROPOSAL:

The city of Duluth does ordain:

     Section 1. That Chapter IX of the 1912 Charter of the City of Duluth, as amended, be deleted in its entirety.

     Section 2. That the 1912 Charter of the City of Duluth, as amended, be amended by adding a new Chapter IX to read as follows:

CHAPTER IX.   LOCAL IMPROVEMENTS AND SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS.

     Section 60.  The city shall have the power to make any and every type of improvement not forbidden by the laws of the state. An improvement on two or more streets, or two or more types of improvements in or on the same street or streets or different streets, may be included in one proceeding and conducted as one improvement.

     Section 60(A).   A special assessment board is established to review plans for public improvements proposed to be constructed and to be funded in whole or in part through assessments against benefitted property, to hold hearings to hear from persons affected by such proposed improvements and to make recommendations to the Council regarding the making of such improvements and the amount, if any, which should be assessed against benefitted properties therefore. The membership on the board shall be established by ordinance.

     Section 61.  (a)  Improvements shall originate upon petition of the property owners affected or upon the council's own initiative as the council may, by ordinance, prescribe. Before adopting the ordering in resolution as provided herein, the council shall, by resolution, state its intention to cause the improvements to be constructed and require the mayor to have plans and estimates prepared or cause to be prepared plans and specifications therefor, and an estimate of the cost thereof, and to file such plans and estimate with the special assessment board, together with a recommendation as to what portion of the cost should be paid by special assessment and what part, if any, should be a general obligation of the city, the number of installments in which assessments may be paid and the lands which should be included in the special assessment;

     (b)  The special assessment board shall set the time, date and place at which the board will hold a public hearing to consider such improvement. Not less than ten days prior to the hearing, notice of the hearing shall be mailed to each known owner of the affected property at the owner's last known address;

     (c)  Failure to receive mailed or actual notice or any defects in the notice shall not invalidate the proceedings;

     (d)  At the hearing, the special assessment board shall meet and hear any person to be affected by the proposed public improvement or assessment . After completion of the hearing, the board shall transmit to the council the plans, specifications and estimates filed with it and shall report to the council its findings as to the necessity of the proposed public improvement and its recommendation therefor, and its recommendations as to assessment, if any, of the cost thereof.

     Section 62.  After the report of the special assessment board has been received, the council may by resolution order in the improvement and make the determination to defray the whole or any part of the cost of the improvement by special assessment upon the property specially benefitted, the number of installments in which assessments may be paid and designate the land upon which special assessments shall be levied.

     Section 63.  The city shall have the power to levy assessments to pay all or any part of the cost of improvements as are of a local character, but in no case shall the amounts assessed exceed the benefits to the property.

     Section 64.  (a)  After the date of the ordering in resolution described in Section 62 and upon completion of the work, the proper city officers shall calculate the expenses incurred in making the improvement;

     (b)  Thereafter, an assessment roll shall be prepared, which shall include assessments against property benefitted by the improvement. The roll shall be filed and open to public inspection;

     (c)  In estimating the benefits to any particular lot, piece or parcel of land, the proper city officers shall consider the owners' interest therein, the form and position of the several parcels of land, the qualified rights of the owners, and any other circumstances rendering the improvement beneficial to him or them;

     (d)  Notice of the public hearing at which the council will consider the assessment roll shall be published in compliance with statutory requirements for publication of official notices not less than 20 days before such hearing. At least ten days before the hearing, notice thereof shall be mailed to every known owner of property subject to an assessment at his last known address;

     (e)  At the hearing or at any adjournment thereof, the council shall hear all persons relative to the assessment. Thereafter by resolution, it shall adopt the assessment roll with or without amendment.

     Section 65.The council may provide, by ordinance, that the cost of any work such as water and sewer service line installation, replacement and repair, and any maintenance, repair, or cleaning performed on streets, sidewalks, boulevards or other public or private property which are undertaken by the city and which are authorized by statute or city ordinance may be charged against the property benefitted. Such charges shall be collected and levied like special assessments or in such other manner as the council determines. The council shall have the power to abate nuisances on any particular property and shall have the power to collect the costs of such abatement as a special assessment in the manner provided in this chapter.

     Section 66.  In the event the council finds an assessment or any part thereof is defective, inadequate or invalid, the council may, upon notice and hearing to affected persons in the manner provided for the original assessment, make a reassessment or a new assessment or a supplemental assessment against the parcel or parcels affected.

     Section 67.  (a)  Within 20 days after the order adopting the assessment, or making a reassessment, a new assessment or supplemental assessment, any person may appeal to the district court for St. Louis County, Minnesota, by filing a notice of appeal with the city clerk stating the grounds upon which the appeal is taken. Such notice shall be filed with the clerk of the district court within ten days after the filing with the city clerk;

     (b)  The only defense to an assessment shall be that the assessment is fraudulent, or that it is made upon a demonstrable mistake of fact or law, or that the assessment is in an amount in excess of the actual benefits to the property. The jurisdiction of the court shall not be affected by an error, act or omission not affecting the substantial rights of any person;

     (c)  A person who fails to file the notice of appeal with the city clerk within the time specified or fails to file the notice of appeal with the district court within the time specified shall be forever barred from proceeding with an appeal and trial in said court, and the assessment shall be final;

     (d)  In case of an appeal, the appellant shall be given a copy of the assessment roll or any part thereof upon payment of an amount designated by administrative ordinance. This copy shall be certified to by the proper city officers and filed by the appellant in the district court.

     Section 68.(a)  The appeal shall be tried in the district court as other civil cases, pursuant to the district court rules of civil procedure, and shall have preference over all other civil cases;

     (b)  The court shall either affirm the assessment or set it aside and determine the lawful amount thereof;

     (c)  If the court approves the assessment, it shall make an order affirming it and render judgment against each lot, part or parcel of land for the amount of the assessment.

     Section 69.(a)  The council shall provide by ordinance the manner in which the assessment shall be collected, the rate of interest and penalty to be charged thereupon, and the date from which the interest shall first accrue;

     (b)  The county auditor shall include in the tax rolls any delinquent assessment or installment thereof, together with accrued charges, due and payable under the terms of the ordinance. The amounts so included shall be collected in the same manner as are municipal taxes and shall be subject to the same penalties, costs and interest charges as are municipal taxes;

     (c)  Every assessment shall be a lien upon all private and public property from the date of the resolution adopting the assessment. Such assessments and interest shall be of equal rank with the lien of the state for general taxes which have been or may be levied upon the property.

     Section 70.  The city at its option may exercise the powers and follow the procedures provided by Minnesota Statutes, Chapter 429.

     Section 3. That this ordinance shall take effect 90 days after its passage and publication.


PW&U/ATTY


STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  This ordinance requires nine votes for passage. It changes the procedure for assessing property to pay for improvements and authorizes new or different charges for street improvements.