[Adopted by Ord. No. 06-16 (§ 25.14 of the former City Code)]
The Common Council of the City of Watertown determines and finds that its departments, agencies and employees may from time to time render certain current services to make public improvements upon real property within the City of Watertown. Such current services confer on the owner or owners of such real property a benefit which improves or enhances the value of such real property and are in addition to the general benefits which the owner or owners of such real property enjoy in common with the other residents of the City. Since the current services for public improvements to such real property can reasonably be expected to benefit the affected property only, it is reasonable and fair not to fund the cost of such current services from the general revenues of the City. Therefore, it is intent of this article to levy a special charge against such real property for the current services or public improvements so provided in order to defray the actual and reasonable cost of providing these current services to the real property so affected. This special charge is adopted pursuant to the authority granted in § 66.0627, Wis. Stats., and is in addition to any other method provided by law to collect special charges for current services.
As used in this article, the following terms shall have the meanings indicated:
- CURRENT SERVICES
- Those special, governmental services provided by the City, either directly by its employees and officials or indirectly by contracted services with third parties, which affect only a single property or a contiguous area of several properties within the City and which are in addition to those regular services provided generally throughout the City. Services contained in this definition include, but are not necessarily limited to, removal of abandoned vehicles, snow and ice removal, noxious weed and vegetation elimination, alarm box response fees, repair of sidewalks, garbage and refuse disposal, recycling, stormwater management fees, tree care or removal, disposition of dead animals, repair of water meters, abatement of public nuisances, sewer and water service laterals, installation or repairs to sidewalks or curbs and gutters, soil erosion/conservation work, and stormwater utility charges.
- SPECIAL CHARGE
- A fee imposed on the owner or owners of real property for current services or public improvements that have been rendered to the affected real estate by the City and which is reasonably designed to meet the overall cost of such current services for which the fee was imposed. The special charge levied against the real estate in this article is not adopted under the special assessment procedure authorized in § 66.0703, Wis. Stats., and is a separate and independent charge which is adopted under § 66.0627, Wis. Stats.
The City may levy a special charge against the real property within the City to recover the cost of current services or public improvements rendered to such real property by allocating all or a portion of the cost of the current services to the property so served, which may consist of a single property or a series of several contiguous properties actually affected by such current services or public improvements.
Whenever a department head or public official of the City, or any of his or her authorized agents, shall determine that any public work or improvement or any current service shall be rendered and financed in whole or in part by a special charge levied under this article, he or she shall notify the owner or person having charge of such premises, in writing, at least two weeks prior thereto, of a hearing before the department head or public official on the imposition of a special charge to be levied against the real property so affected by the current services or public improvement imposed under the authority of the Code of the City or the Wisconsin Statutes.
The owner or person in charge of the premises shall have a right to be present at such hearing and be afforded an opportunity to be heard. The only issues to be addressed at such hearing shall be the necessity of rendering such current services (if the services have not yet been rendered or if the owner or person having charge of the premises has not previously been given an opportunity to complete the task or activity at his or her sole expense) and the actual and reasonable costs of performing such current services. After such hearing, the department head or public official shall either abandon such work or proceed under Subsection C below, unless the department head or public official determines at the hearing held under this section that, because of the severity of the condition or the scope of the remedy needed to correct the problem requiring current services on the real property, there is created an emergency condition which will threaten the public health, safety or welfare and which warrants immediate action. The department head or public official shall provide written notice of such decision, the time period during which representatives of the City will render the current services, and a brief description of the current services to be rendered on the property to the owner or person having charge of such premises.
Prior to proceeding to perform any work or render any current services under Subsection B, the owner or person having charge of such premises shall be given at least 30 days to cause the task or activity to be completed as ordered, except that the performance time period shall be shortened to a time period less than 30 days when the department head or public official determines that an emergency condition exists. Otherwise, the department head or public official shall determine the time specified, shall order the scope of the work or current services to be performed, and shall provide written notice of such time period to the owner or person having charge of such premises, depending on the severity of the problem and the scope of correction needed to remedy the problem. The owner or person having charge of the premises shall be deemed to have waived any additional time to perform the task or activity if such owner or person has been provided prior notice by the department head or public official under other provisions of the Watertown Code or Wisconsin Statutes.
Should this order not be complied with within the time specified in the order, the department head or public official shall cause such work to be completed, unless the owner or person in charge of such premises shall have appealed the order of the department head or public official entered under Subsection E below. If the department head or public official shall cause the work to be done, or if the work has already been completed, all of the actual and reasonable costs shall be charged against the real property as a special charge. The department head or public official shall provide written notice to the owner or person in charge of the premises of the actual and reasonable costs of providing the current services or public improvement, the date when payment is due, and the appeal rights of the owner or person in charge of the premises under this section.
A person who receives an order from the department head or public official and objects to all or a part thereof may, within 30 days of the date of the mailing of the order to such person, notify the department head or public official, in writing, of the nature of the objection and of a request for a hearing thereon. The written order under Subsection C above shall be deemed the initial determination, and the municipal authority charged with conducting the review, pursuant to § 10-8B of the Watertown Code, shall be the Public Works Commission of the Common Council. The Public Works Commission shall proceed to conduct a hearing on the appellant's objection, pursuant to §§ 10-9 and 10-10 of this Code. The department head or public official, or his or her designee, shall be present at such hearing. The appellant may be represented by counsel. The Public Works Commission may affirm, cancel or modify the order of the department head or public official, in its discretion, to best conform such order to the intent of this article.
Any owner or person against whose property a special charge is levied under this section may appeal the order of the Public Works Commission entered under Subsection E above to the Circuit Court of the county in which such real property is located within 30 days of the date of receipt of the final determination of the Public Works Commission, pursuant to § 10-12 of the Code. The manner of appeal to the Circuit Court, other than the time within which the appeal is to be filed, shall be as prescribed in § 66.0703(12), Wis. Stats.
If the current service or public improvement has already been performed or rendered to the real property, the special charge shall be paid within 60 days of the levy of the special charge by adoption of the order rendered by the department head or public official under § 76-22D above.
Any special charge imposed under this article is not payable in installments but is rather payable in a lump sum.
If the special charge is not paid within the period set under Subsection A above, the special charge is delinquent and will begin accruing interest on the outstanding balance thereof at the annual rate of 12% per year, imposed retroactive to the date of levy of the special charge by the department head or public official.
A delinquent special charge shall become a lien upon the real property against which it is imposed as of the date of delinquency as defined under Subsection C above. The delinquent special charge shall be included in the current or next tax roll for collection and settlement pursuant to Ch. 74, Wis. Stats.