Substitute Senate Bill No. 657

Public Act No. 99-283

An Act Concerning Assignment of Water and Sewer Liens and Clarification of Provisions re Tax Collections.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 7-239 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) The legislative body shall establish just and equitable rates or charges for the use of the waterworks system authorized herein, to be paid by the owner of each lot or building which is connected with and uses such system, and may change such rates or charges from time to time. Such rates or charges shall be sufficient in each year for the payment of the expense of operation, repair, replacements and maintenance of such system and for the payment of the sums herein required to be paid into the sinking fund. No such rate or charge shall be established until after a public hearing at which all the users of the waterworks system and the owners of property served or to be served and others interested shall have an opportunity to be heard concerning such proposed rate or charge. Notice of such hearing shall be given, at least ten days before the date set therefor, in a newspaper having a circulation in such municipality. Such notice shall set forth a schedule of rates or charges, and a copy of the schedule of rates or charges established shall be kept on file in the office of the legislative body and in the office of the clerk of the municipality, and shall be open to inspection by the public. The rates or charges so established for any class of users or property served shall be extended to cover any additional premises thereafter served which are within the same class, without the necessity of a hearing thereon. Any change in such rates or charges may be made in the same manner in which they were established, provided, if any change is made substantially pro rata as to all classes of service, no hearing shall be required.

(b) The rates or charges established pursuant to this section, if not paid when due, shall constitute a lien upon the premises served and a charge against the owners thereof, which lien and charge shall bear interest at the same rate as would unpaid taxes. Such a lien not released of record prior to October 1, 1993, shall not continue for more than one year unless the superintendent of the waterworks system has filed a certificate of continuation of the lien in the manner provided under section 12-174 for the continuance of tax liens, and when so continued shall be valid for fifteen years. A lien described in this section shall take precedence over all other liens or encumbrances except taxes and may be foreclosed against the lot or building served in the same manner as a lien for taxes.

(c) Any municipality, by resolution of its legislative body, may assign, for consideration, any and all liens filed by the superintendent of the waterworks system or tax collector to secure unpaid water charges as provided under the provisions of this chapter. The consideration received by the municipality shall be negotiated between the municipality and the assignee. The assignee or assignees of such liens shall have and possess the same powers and rights at law or in equity as such municipality and municipality's tax collector would have had if the lien had not been assigned with regard to the precedence and priority of such lien, the accrual of interest and the fees and expenses of collection. The assignee shall have the same rights to enforce such liens as any private party holding a lien on real property, including, but not limited to, foreclosure and a suit on the debt. Costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the assignee as a result of any foreclosure action or other legal proceeding brought pursuant to this section and directly related to the proceeding shall be taxed in any such proceeding against each person having title to any property subject to the proceedings. Such costs and fees may be collected by the assignee at any time after demand for payment has been made by the assignee.

[(c)] (d) The amount of any such rate or charge which remains due and unpaid for thirty days may, with reasonable attorneys' fees, be recovered by the legislative body in a civil action in the name of the municipality against such owners. The municipality shall be subject to the same rates or charges under the same conditions as other users of such waterworks system.

Sec. 2. Section 7-254 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Any assessment of benefits or any instalment thereof, not paid within thirty days after the due date, shall be delinquent and shall be subject to interest from such due date at the interest rate and in the manner provided by the general statutes for delinquent property taxes. Each addition of interest shall be collectible as a part of such assessment.

(b) Whenever any instalment of an assessment becomes delinquent, the interest on such delinquent instalment shall be as provided in subsection (a) or five dollars, whichever is greater. Any unpaid assessment and any interest due thereon shall constitute a lien upon the real estate against which the assessment was levied from the date of such levy. Each such lien may be continued, recorded and released in the manner provided by the general statutes for continuing, recording and releasing property tax liens. Each such lien shall take precedence over all other liens and encumbrances except taxes and may be enforced in the same manner as property tax liens. The tax collector of the municipality may collect such assessments in accordance with any mandatory provision of the general statutes for the collection of property taxes and the municipality may recover any such assessment in a civil action against any person liable therefor.

(c) Any municipality, by resolution of its legislative body, may assign, for consideration, any and all liens filed by the tax collector to secure unpaid sewer assessments as provided under the provisions of this chapter. The consideration received by the municipality shall be negotiated between the municipality and the assignee. The assignee or assignees of such liens shall have and possess the same powers and rights at law or in equity as such municipality and municipality's tax collector would have had if the lien had not been assigned with regard to the precedence and priority of such lien, the accrual of interest and the fees and expenses of collection. The assignee shall have the same rights to enforce such liens as any private party holding a lien on real property, including, but not limited to, foreclosure and a suit on the debt. Costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the assignee as a result of any foreclosure action or other legal proceeding brought pursuant to this section and directly related to the proceeding shall be taxed in any such proceeding against each person having title to any property subject to the proceedings. Such costs and fees may be collected by the assignee at any time after demand for payment has been made by the assignee.

Sec. 3. Section 7-258 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) Any charge for connection with or for the use of a sewerage system, not paid within thirty days of the due date, shall thereupon be delinquent and shall bear interest from the due date at the rate and in the manner provided by the general statutes for delinquent property taxes. Each addition of interest shall be collectible as a part of such connection or use charge. Any such unpaid connection or use charge shall constitute a lien upon the real estate against which such charge was levied from the date it became delinquent. Each such lien may be continued, recorded and released in the manner provided by the general statutes for continuing, recording and releasing property tax liens. Each such lien shall take precedence over all other liens and encumbrances except taxes and may be foreclosed in the same manner as a lien for property taxes. The municipality may by ordinance designate the tax collector or any other person as collector of sewerage system connection and use charges and such collector of sewerage system connection and use charges may collect such charges in accordance with the provisions of the general statutes for the collection of property taxes. The municipality may recover any such charges in a civil action against any person liable therefor. For the purpose of establishing or revising such connection or use charges and for the purpose of collecting such charges any municipality may enter into agreements with any water company or municipal water department furnishing water in such municipality for the purchase from such water company or municipal water department of information or services and such agreement may designate such water company or municipal water department as a billing or collecting agent of the collector of sewerage system connection and use charges in the municipality. Any water company or municipal water department may enter into and fulfill any such agreements and may utilize for the collection of such charges any of the methods utilized by it for the collection of its water charges.

(b) Any municipality, by resolution of its legislative body, may assign, for consideration, any and all liens filed by the tax collector or collector of sewerage system connection and use charges to secure unpaid sewerage connection and use charges as provided under the provisions of this chapter. The consideration received by the municipality shall be negotiated between the municipality and the assignee. The assignee or assignees of such liens shall have and possess the same powers and rights at law or in equity as such municipality and municipality's tax collector would have had if the lien had not been assigned with regard to the precedence and priority of such lien, the accrual of interest and the fees and expenses of collection. The assignee shall have the same rights to enforce such liens as any private party holding a lien on real property, including, but not limited to, foreclosure and a suit on the debt. Costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the assignee as a result of any foreclosure action or other legal proceeding brought pursuant to this section and directly related to the proceeding shall be taxed in any such proceeding against each person having title to any property subject to the proceedings. Such costs and fees may be collected by the assignee at any time after demand for payment has been made by the assignee.

Sec. 4. Subsection (e) of section 12-157 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(e) Within two weeks after such sale, the collector shall execute a deed thereof to the purchaser or to the municipality conducting the sale and shall lodge the same in the office of the town clerk of such town, where it shall remain unrecorded [one year] six months from the date of such sale.

Sec. 5. Section 12-159 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

Any deed, or the certified copy of the record of any deed, purporting to be executed by a tax collector and similar, or in substance similar, to the above, shall be prima facie evidence of a valid title in the grantee to the premises therein purported to be conveyed, encumbered only by the lien of taxes to the municipality which were not yet due and payable on the date notice of levy was first made, easements and similar interests appurtenant to other properties not thereby conveyed, and other interests described therein and of the existence and regularity of all votes and acts necessary to the validity of the tax therein referred to, as the same was assessed, and of the levy and sale therefor, and no tax collector shall be required to make return upon his warrant of his doings thereunder, except that the purchaser may, within ninety days of the recording of the collector's deed, request in writing from the tax collector, an affidavit which complies with the provisions of section 12-167a. The tax collector shall provide such affidavit within thirty days of receipt of such request. The town clerk shall record such affidavit in the land records of such town and shall index the affidavit under the name of the purchaser as grantee. No act done or omitted relative to the assessment or collection of a tax, including everything connected therewith, after the vote of the community laying the same, up to and including the final collection thereof or sale of property therefor, shall in any way affect or impair the validity of such tax as assessed, collected or sought to be collected or the validity of such sale, unless the person contesting the validity of such sale shows that the collector neglected to provide notice pursuant to section 12-157, to [him] such person or to [his] the predecessors of such person in title, and who had a right to notice of such sale, and that [he] the person or they in fact did not know of such sale within [one year] six months after it was made, and provided such property was by law liable to be sold to satisfy such tax. The fact that the collector may have charged or received illegal fees upon such sale shall not impair the sale's validity. If the person contesting such fees shows that illegal fees were charged by the collector, the municipality shall refund such illegal fees together with legal interest from the date of their payment in accordance with section 12-129.

Sec. 6. Section 12-164 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) No payment of taxes shall be enforced by any collector or other proper officer against any person, persons or corporation against which they are respectively levied except within fifteen years after the due date of the tax. The provisions of this section shall be retroactive. The fifteen-year limitation shall not apply to improvement liens except those which have been released of record prior to July 18, 1945. Collectors shall compute interest on improvement liens for a period of not more than fifteen years, and at a rate, after July 18, 1945, and retroactively, not exceeding twelve per cent per annum, any provision of any special act to the contrary notwithstanding. The term "improvement lien" as used herein includes municipal liens for repairs and services.

(b) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (a) of this section, liens filed under the provisions of section 12-129n shall be valid without any limitation of time.

Sec. 7. Section 12-195b of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

(a) If any personal property tax, other than a tax on a motor vehicle, due any municipality is not paid within the time limited by any local charter or ordinance, or in the event that the municipality, following the assessment date for such tax, has reason to believe that such tax will not be paid when due, the municipality shall have a lien, upon perfection as hereinafter provided, upon the goods situated in this state and owned by the taxpayer upon the date of perfection, or upon the goods thereafter acquired by the taxpayer. Such lien shall attach and become perfected at the time when notice of such lien is filed pursuant to the filing provisions of part 4 of article 9 of title 42a, except that the signature of the taxpayer against whose property the lien is claimed shall not be required on said notice of lien. Except as hereinafter provided, upon perfection, such lien shall have priority over all subsequently perfected liens and security interests. Such lien shall not attach to or be applicable to proceeds.

(b) On and after July 1, 1999, and except as otherwise provided by law, a notice of lien upon personal property for taxes payable to a municipality shall, once perfected under part 4 of article 9 of title 42a, have priority over all previously perfected liens and security interests and other encumbrances of record under the Connecticut Uniform Commercial Code. If more than one municipality perfects such a notice of lien on the same day, the priority of such liens shall be determined by the time of day such liens were perfected, and if perfected at the same time, the lien for the highest tax amount shall take precedence. As used in this section, "municipality" means any town, consolidated town and city, consolidated town and borough, borough, district, as defined in section 7-324, and any city not consolidated with a town.

(c) The provisions of this section shall not be construed to create any implication related to the priority of a lien perfected on or before June 30, 1999.

Sec. 8. (NEW) Any regional sewer authority established under an act of the General Assembly, may assign, for consideration, any and all liens filed by such regional sewer authority to secure unpaid sewer assessments or connection or use charges of the authority. The consideration received by the authority shall be negotiated between the authority and the assignee. The assignee or assignees of such liens shall have and possess the same powers and rights at law or in equity as such authority would have had if the lien had not been assigned with regard to the precedence and priority of such lien, the accrual of interest and the fees and expenses of collection. The assignee shall have the same rights to enforce such liens as any private party holding a lien on real property, including, but not limited to, foreclosure and a suit on the debt. Costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the assignee as a result of any foreclosure action or other legal proceeding brought pursuant to this section and directly related to the proceeding shall be taxed in any such proceeding against each person having title to any property subject to the proceedings. Such costs and fees may be collected by the assignee at any time after demand for payment has been made by the assignee.

Sec. 9. (NEW) Any regional water authority established under an act of the General Assembly, may assign, for consideration, any and all liens filed by such regional water authority to secure unpaid water assessments or connection or use charges of the authority. The consideration received by the authority shall be negotiated between the authority and the assignee. The assignee or assignees of such liens shall have and possess the same powers and rights at law or in equity as such authority would have had if the lien had not been assigned with regard to the precedence and priority of such lien, the accrual of interest and the fees and expenses of collection. The assignee shall have the same rights to enforce such liens as any private party holding a lien on real property, including, but not limited to, foreclosure and a suit on the debt. Costs and reasonable attorneys' fees incurred by the assignee as a result of any foreclosure action or other legal proceeding brought pursuant to this section and directly related to the proceeding shall be taxed in any such proceeding against each person having title to any property subject to the proceedings. Such costs and fees may be collected by the assignee at any time after demand for payment has been made by the assignee.

Sec. 10. This act shall take effect from its passage, except that sections 1 to 3, inclusive, and sections 7 to 9, inclusive, shall take effect July 1, 1999, and section 6 shall take effect October 1, 1999.

Approved June 29, 1999

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