Wicomico County, MD
 
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Table of Contents
Table of Contents
[HISTORY: Adopted by the County Council of Wicomico County 2-25-1998 by Bill No. 1998-5. Amendments noted where applicable.]
A. 
The County Council of Wicomico County is hereby authorized and empowered to create, establish, modify, amend and abolish special benefit districts within the county, in accordance with the procedures set forth in this chapter.
B. 
Special benefit districts may be created in order to furnish and provide for public improvements and services which confer special privileges or benefits upon property in a limited and determinable area comprising less than the entire county.
C. 
The County Council shall have the power to levy and collect taxes in the form of special assessments upon property in a limited and determinable area for the special benefits conferred upon such property to provide for the payment of all or any part of the costs of such benefits.
D. 
Nothing herein contained shall be construed to permit the modification or abolition of existing urban service districts providing water and/or sewer to citizens of the county.
A special benefit district may be formed in order to provide public improvements and urban services, such as water supply, sewage disposal, storm drainage and surface water drainage, curbing and guttering, streetlighting, police protection, fire protection, ambulance service, garbage and trash collection and disposal; and for other municipal services, such as those purposes enumerated in Article 25A of the Annotated Code of Maryland, as the same may be amended from time to time.
A. 
The procedure for the establishment of a special benefit district may be commenced by the filing of a petition signed by 25% of the property owners residing in the proposed district whose property will be affected by the creation of the district. The petition shall be filed with the County Council.
B. 
The petition shall set forth the specific public improvement or urban service or services desired and the boundaries of the proposed district in which the services will be provided.
C. 
The County Council shall appoint a day for a public hearing on the petition and shall give not less than seven days' notice of the proposed district, by publication in one or more newspapers published within the county. The notice shall specify the boundaries of the district and the improvement or service to be provided therein, together with the time and place of hearing to be held, at which hearing those present shall be informed of the probable cost of providing the service in the district, including all fees and expenses and the estimated assessed property valuation as fixed for county taxation within the proposed district
D. 
If, at the conclusion of the public hearing held pursuant to this section, the Council shall determine, on the basis of the estimates of the cost of providing the service requested and the facts and comments presented by the residents of the area during the hearing, the proposed service is feasible, it shall set a time and place for balloting.
E. 
The Council shall give public notice of the time, place and hours of the balloting, in the same manner set forth in Subsection C of this section.
F. 
The owners of property lying within said proposed service area shall have the right to vote for or against the proposed service. For the purpose of balloting, the owner or owners of each separately assessed parcel within the proposed district shall constitute a single unit entitled to cast one vote for such assessed parcel. In the event of multiple owners of a single assessed parcel, the majority of the owners of the parcel shall be authorized to direct the vote for such parcel. In this chapter, "owner" means each person in whose name an account with respect to a parcel of real property stands in the records of the Supervisor of Assessments for the county when a petition is submitted under this section. "Owner" includes each co-owner of a parcel of real property, whether co-ownership is joint, in common or by the entirety.
G. 
If a majority of the votes cast at such balloting are in favor of the proposed urban service in the designated area, the Council shall promptly proceed with the introduction of legislation to establish the district.
A. 
In the event the County Council deems it necessary for the health, safety and welfare of the residents of an area of Wicomico County to provide any one of the public improvements or urban services enumerated in this chapter, the Council shall first determine the boundaries of the area requiring such improvement or service.
B. 
The County Council shall then appoint a day for a public hearing and shall give not less than seven days' notice of the proposed district, by publication in one or more newspapers published within the county. The notice shall specify the boundaries of the district and the improvement or service to be provided therein; together with the time and place of hearing to be held, at which hearing those present shall be informed of the probable cost of providing the service in the district, including all fees and expenses and the estimated assessed property valuation as fixed for county taxation within the proposed district.
C. 
If, at the conclusion of the public hearing held pursuant to Subsection B, the Council shall determine the proposed service is necessary for the health, safety and welfare of the residents of the proposed district, it shall promptly proceed with the introduction of legislation to establish the district.
All revenues received from special benefit taxes shall be spent in the district from which the taxes are collected for the purposes of the district.
A. 
The special benefit tax shall be based on an assessment determined by the County Council and set forth in the bill establishing the district. The annual rate shall be sufficient for the purpose of defraying the cost of the services provided within the limits of the district.
B. 
The amount assessed against any property for any service shall not exceed the value of the benefits accruing to the property from such service.
C. 
When desirable, property within a district may be divided into different classes to which different rates may be charged, but any rate shall be uniform within each class.
D. 
The special benefit tax that is assessed and levied by the County Council shall be levied, collected and enforced in the same manner as county real property taxes and shall have the same priority rights, bear the same interest and penalties, constitute a lien on the real property so assessed and be treated the same as county real property taxes.
A. 
The County Council may amend, modify or dissolve a special benefit district.
B. 
Except as set forth in Subsection F of this section, an existing district may not be amended, modified or dissolved unless:
(1) 
A petition is signed by the owners of a majority of the properties in the existing district whose property will be affected by the amendment, modification or dissolution of the district; and
(2) 
The County Council gives notice by public advertisements of the proposed amendment, modification or dissolution of the existing district as provided for the creation of said district.
C. 
Where a proposed amendment will have the effect of adding a new area to an existing district, the petition shall be signed by the owners of a majority of the properties in the new area as well as by the owners of a majority of the properties in the existing district.
D. 
The County Council may not make an amendment or modification to an existing district or dissolve an existing district if the effect of the amendment, modification or dissolution is to impair an outstanding obligation of the district.
E. 
Division of assets; distribution of uencumbered and unexpended funds.
(1) 
The dissolution of an existing special benefit district shall provide for an equitable division of assets belonging to the district among the persons who own property in the district on the effective date of the resolution dissolving the district.
(2) 
Unencumbered and unexpended funds remaining in the district account on the effective date of the dissolution of the district shall be distributed to the current property owners of the district proportionately on the same basis as the special benefit tax was most recently collected.
F. 
The County Council may amend or modify the purposes of any district if it determines that an emergency exists and that immediate action is required to permit a district to abate the emergency.