2-3254. Improvement project areas; petition; hearing; notice; findings of board; apportionment of benefits; lien.

(1) The board shall hold a hearing upon the question of the desirability and necessity, in the interest of the public health, safety, and welfare, of the establishment of or altering the boundaries of an existing improvement project area and the undertaking of such a project, upon the question of the appropriate boundaries describing affected land, upon the propriety of the petition, and upon all relevant questions regarding such inquiries. When a hearing has been initiated by petition, such hearing shall be held within one hundred twenty days of the filing of such petition. Notice of such hearing shall be published prior thereto once each week for three consecutive weeks in a legal newspaper published or of general circulation in the district. Landowners within the limits of the territory described in the petition and all other interested parties, including any appropriate agencies of state or federal government, shall have the right to be heard. If the board finds, after consultation with such appropriate agencies of state and federal government and after the hearing, that the project conforms with all applicable law and with the district's goals, criteria, and policies, it shall enter its findings in the board's official records and shall, with the aid of such engineers, surveyors, and other assistants as it may have chosen, establish an improvement project area or alter the boundaries of an existing improvement project area, proceed to make detailed plans and cost estimates, determine the total benefits, and carry out the project as provided in subsections (2) and (3) of this section. If the board finds that the project does not so conform, the findings shall be entered in the board's records and copies of such findings shall be furnished to the petitioners and the commission.

(2) When any such special project would result in the provision of revenue-producing continuing services, the board shall, prior to commencement of construction of such project, determine, by circulation of petitions or by some other appropriate method, if such project can be reasonably expected to generate sufficient revenue to recover the reimbursable costs thereof. If it is determined that the project cannot be reasonably expected to generate sufficient revenue, the project and all work in connection therewith shall be suspended. If it is determined that the project can be reasonably expected to generate sufficient revenue, the board shall divide the total benefits of the project as provided in sections 2-3252 to 2-3254. If the proposed project involves the supply of water for any beneficial use, all plans and specifications for the project shall be filed with the secretary of the district and the Director of Natural Resources, except that if such project involves a public water system as defined in section 71-5301, the filing of the information shall be with the Department of Health and Human Services rather than the Director of Natural Resources. No construction of any such special project shall begin until the plans and specifications for such improvement have been approved by the Director of Natural Resources and the Department of Health and Human Services, if applicable, except that if such special project involves a public water system as defined in section 71-5301, only the Department of Health and Human Services shall be required to review such plans and specifications and approve the same if in compliance with the Nebraska Safe Drinking Water Act and departmental rules and regulations adopted and promulgated under the act. All prescribed conditions having been complied with, each landowner within the improvement project area shall, within any limits otherwise prescribed by law, subscribe to a number of benefit units in proportion to the extent he or she desires to participate in the benefits of the special project. As long as the capacity of the district's facilities permit, participating landowners may subscribe to additional units, within any limits otherwise prescribed by law, upon payment of a unit fee for each such unit. The unit fees made and charged pursuant to this section shall be levied and fixed by rules and regulations of the district. The service provided may be withheld during the time such charges levied upon such parcel of land are delinquent and unpaid. Such charges shall be cumulative, and the service provided by the project may be withheld until all delinquent charges for the operation and maintenance of such works of improvement are paid for past years as well as for the current year. All such charges, due and delinquent according to the rules and regulations of such district and unpaid on June 1 after becoming due and delinquent, may be certified by the governing authority of such district to the county clerk of such county in which are situated the lands against which such charges have been levied, and when so certified such charges shall be entered upon the tax list and spread upon the tax roll the same as other special assessment taxes are levied and assessed upon real estate, shall become a lien upon such real estate along with other real estate taxes, and shall be collectible at the same time, in the same manner, and in the same proceeding as other real estate taxes are levied.

(3) When the special project would not result in the provision of revenue-producing continuing services, the board shall apportion the benefits thereof accruing to the several tracts of land within the district which will be benefited thereby, on a system of units. The land least benefited shall be apportioned one unit of assessment, and each tract receiving a greater benefit shall be apportioned a greater number of units or fraction thereof, according to the benefits received. Nothing contained in this section shall prevent the district from establishing separate areas within the improvement project area so as to permit future allocation of costs for particular portions of the work to specific subareas. This subarea method of allocation shall not be used in any improvement project area which has heretofore made a final apportionment of units of benefits and shall not thereafter be changed except by compliance with the procedure prescribed in this section.

(4) A notice shall be inserted for at least one week in a newspaper published or of general circulation in the improvement project area stating the time when and the place where the directors shall meet for the purpose of hearing all parties interested in the apportionment of benefits by reason of the improvement, at which time and place such parties may appear in person or by counsel or may file written objections thereto. The directors shall then proceed to hear and consider the same and shall make the apportionments fair and just according to benefits received from the improvement. The directors, having completed the apportionment of benefits, shall make a detailed report of the same and file such report with the county clerk. The board of directors shall include in such report a statement of the actual expenses incurred by the district to that time which relate to the proposed project and the actual cost per benefit unit thereof. Thereupon the board of directors shall cause to be published, once each week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper published or of general circulation in the improvement project area, a notice that the report required in this subsection has been filed and notice shall also be sent to each party appearing to have a direct legal interest in such apportionment, which notice shall include the description of the lands in which each party notified appears to have such interest, the units of benefit assigned to such lands, the amount of actual costs assessable to date to such lands, and the estimated total costs of the project assessable to such lands upon completion thereof, as provided by sections 25-520.01 to 25-520.03. If the owners of record title representing more than fifty percent of the estimated total assessments file with the board within thirty days of the final publication of such notice written objections to the project proposed, such project and work in connection therewith shall be suspended, such project shall not be done in such project area, and all expenses relating to such project incurred by and accrued to the district may, at the direction of the board of directors, be assessed upon the lands which were to have been benefited by the completion of such improvement project in accordance with the apportionment of benefits determined and procedures established in this section. Upon completing the establishment of an improvement project area or altering the boundaries of an existing improvement project area as provided in this subsection and upon determining the reimbursable cost of the project and the period of time over which such cost shall be assessed, the board of directors shall determine the amount of money necessary to raise each year by special assessment within such improvement project area and apportion the same in dollars and cents to each tract benefited according to the apportionment of benefits as determined by this section. The board of directors shall also, from time to time as it deems necessary, order an additional assessment upon the lands and property benefited by the project, using the original apportionment of benefits as a basis to ascertain the assessment to each tract of land benefited, to carry out a reasonable program of operation and maintenance upon the construction or capital improvements involved in such project. The chairperson and secretary shall thereupon return lists of such tracts with the amounts chargeable to each of the county clerks of each county in which assessed lands are located, who shall place the same on duplicate tax lists against the lands and lots so assessed. Such assessments shall be collected and accounted for by the county treasurer at the same time as general real estate taxes, and such assessments shall be and remain a perpetual lien against such real estate until paid. All provisions of law for the sale, redemption, and foreclosure in ordinary tax matters shall apply to such special assessments.

Source:Laws 1969, c. 9, § 54, p. 131; Laws 1972, LB 543, § 14; Laws 1973, LB 206, § 6; Laws 1981, LB 326, § 10; Laws 1994, LB 480, § 15; Laws 1996, LB 1044, § 39; Laws 1999, LB 436, § 10; Laws 2000, LB 900, § 58; Laws 2001, LB 136, § 3; Laws 2001, LB 667, § 1; Laws 2007, LB296, § 18.

Cross References