2007 Regular Session
By: Representative Turner
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 21-19-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE NOTICE REQUIREMENTS FOR OWNERS OF PROPERTY OR LAND WITHIN MUNICIPALITIES WHO HAVE FAILED TO MAINTAIN SUCH PROPERTY OR LAND; TO AUTHORIZE MUNICIPAL PLANNING DEPARTMENTS TO HANDLE SUCH NOTICE REQUIREMENTS; TO PROVIDE THAT PROPERTY OWNERS WHO HAVE BEEN ASSESSED A FEE FOR FAILING TO MAINTAIN HIS OR HER PROPERTY AND SUCH FEE BECOMES DELINQUENT SHALL NOT BE ISSUED OR HAVE RENEWED A MOTOR VEHICLE ROAD AND BRIDGE PRIVILEGE LICENSE UNTIL SUCH DELINQUENT FEES ARE DISCHARGED; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 21-19-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
21-19-11. (1) (a) The governing authority of any municipality is authorized, on its own action, or upon the receipt of a petition requesting the municipal authority to so act signed by a majority of the residents residing within four hundred (400) feet of any property or parcel of land alleged to be in need of cleaning, to give written notice to the property owner by United States mail seven (7) days before the date of a hearing, or by service of notice as provided in this section by a police officer at least seven (7) days before the date of a hearing, or * * * by seven (7) days notice in a newspaper having a general circulation in the municipality, of a hearing to determine whether or not the property or land is in such a state of uncleanliness as to be a menace to the public health and safety of the community. Notice may be given any one or more method described in this subsection. If notice is given by publication, a copy of the notice shall also be posted on the property that is the subject of the notice at least seven (7) days before the date of the hearing.
(b) The governing authority is authorized to delegate to the municipality's planning department the requirements of notice and conducting hearings as described in subsection (a). Upon such delegation, evidenced by resolution of the governing authority, the planning department shall be the municipality's designee for purposes of receiving petitions as described in subsection (a), giving notice and conducting hearings. As designee, the planning department may conduct hearings on any nonholiday weekday between 9:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. and the hearing date and time shall be set forth in the written notice provided to the property owner. Further, as designee, the planning department may act on its own, without prior approval from the governing authority, in determining which properties are alleged to be in need of cleaning, and in setting and conducting hearings. Following each hearing a report of the outcome of the hearing shall be made by the planning department to the governing authority at its next regular hearing.
(c) If, at the hearing described in subsection (a), the governing authority or its designee as described in subsection (b) shall adjudicate the property or land in its then condition to be a menace to the public health and safety of the community, the governing authority or its designee as described in subsection (b) shall, if the owner does not do so himself, proceed to clean the land, by the use of municipal employees or by contract, by cutting grass and weeds; filling cisterns; removing rubbish, dilapidated fences, outside toilets, dilapidated buildings and other debris; and draining cesspools and standing water therefrom. Thereafter, the governing authority may, at its next regular meeting, by resolution adjudicate the actual cost of cleaning the property and may also impose a penalty of One Thousand Five Hundred Dollars ($1,500.00) or fifty percent (50%) of such actual cost, whichever is more. The cost and any penalty shall become * * * an assessment against the property. The cost assessed against the property means the cost to the municipality of using its own employees to do the work or the cost to the municipality of any contract executed by the municipality to have the work done. The action herein authorized shall not be undertaken against any one (1) parcel of land more than six (6) times in any one (1) calendar year, and the expense of cleaning of said property shall not exceed an aggregate amount of Twenty Thousand Dollars ($20,000.00) per year, or the fair market value of the property subsequent to cleaning, whichever is less. If it is determined by the governing authority that it is necessary to clean any property or land more than once within a calendar year, then the municipality may clean it without conducting another hearing during the calendar year provided notice to the property owner is given by United States mail to the last known address at least seven (7) days before cleaning the property again. The governing authority may assess the same penalty for each time the property or land is cleaned as otherwise provided in this section. The penalty provided herein shall not be assessed against the State of Mississippi upon request for reimbursement under Section 29-1-145, nor shall a municipality clean a parcel owned by the State of Mississippi without first giving notice.
* * *
(2) (a) The governing authority shall mail a notice of the lien, including the amount thereof and a description of the property subject to the lien, to the last known address of the owner of the property, and shall post a copy of the notice on the affected property. The assessment shall be due and payable within seven (7) days of the latter of the dates of posting and mailing of notice of the lien.
(b) The assessment shall be a lien against the property and may be enrolled in the office of the circuit clerk of the county as other judgments are enrolled.
(c) The governing authority may, (i) by order spread on its minutes, direct the sale of the affected property to satisfy the lien as now provided by the law for the sale of lands for delinquent municipal taxes, (ii) retain a collection agency to collect the assessment, and/or (iii) notify the county tax collector of any unpaid fees assessed in this section ninety (90) days after the fees are due. Before notifying the tax collector, the governing authority shall provide notice of the delinquency to the person who owes the delinquent fees and shall afford an opportunity for a hearing that complies with the due process protections the board deems necessary and that is consistent with the Constitutions of the United States and the State of Mississippi. The governing authority shall establish procedures for the manner in which notice shall be given and the contents of the notice; however, each notice shall include the amount of the delinquent assessment and shall prescribe the procedure required for payment thereof.
(d) Upon receipt of a delinquency notice, the county tax collector shall not issue or renew a motor vehicle road and bridge privilege license for any motor vehicle owned by a person who is delinquent in the payment of the assessment unless the assessment, in addition to any other taxes or fees assessed against the motor vehicle, are paid in full. Payment of all delinquent assessments assessed in accordance with this section shall be deemed a condition of receiving a motor vehicle road and bridge privilege license tag.
(e) The county tax collector may forward the motor vehicle road and bridge privilege license tag renewal notices to the municipal planning department. The municipal planning department shall thereafter identify those license tags that shall not be issued due to delinquent assessments and shall stamp a message on the license tag renewal notices that the tag shall not be renewed until the delinquency is paid in full. The planning department or collection agency shall return the license tag notices to the tax collector before the first of the month.
(3) Liens created pursuant to this section may be discharged by filing with the circuit clerk a receipt or acknowledgment, signed by the designated municipal official or billing and collection entity, that the lien has been paid or discharged.
(4) All decisions rendered under the provisions of this section may be appealed in the same manner as other appeals from municipal boards or courts are taken.
(5) The police officer's return on the notice may be in one (1) of the following forms:
(a) Form of personal notice:
"I have this day delivered the within notice personally, by delivering to the within named property owner,_______________ (here state name of party summoned), a true copy of this notice.
This, the _____ day of __________, 20 ____.
______________________________ (Police Officer)"
(b) Form of notice where copy left at residence:
"I have this day delivered the within notice to ________________, within named property owner, by leaving a true copy of the same at his (or her) usual place of abode in my municipality, with ________________, his (or her) (here insert wife, husband, son, daughter or some other person, as the case may be), ________________ a member of his (or her) family above the age of sixteen (16) years, and willing to receive such copy. The said property owner is not found in my municipality.
This, the _____ day of__________, 20 ____.
_____________________________ (Police Officer)"
(c) Form of return when property owner not found within municipality and is a nonresident thereof:
"I have this day attempted to deliver the within notice to ________________, the within named property owner, and after diligent search and inquiry, I failed to find the same property owner within my municipality, nor could I ascertain the location of any residence of the property owner within my municipality.
This, the _____ day of __________, 20 ____.
________________________________ (Police Officer)"
The first mode of notice should be made, if it can be; if not, then the second mode should be made, if it can be; and the return of the second mode of service must negate the officer's ability to make the first. If neither the first nor second mode of service can be made, then the third mode should be made, and the return thereof must negate the officer's ability to make both the first and second. In the event the third mode of service is made, then service shall also be made by publication as provided in subsection (1) of this section.
(6) The officer shall mark on all notices the day of the receipt thereof by him, and he shall return the same on or before the day of the hearing, with a written statement of his proceedings thereon. For failing to note the time of the receipt of notice or for failing to return the same, the officer shall forfeit to the party aggrieved the sum of Twenty-five Dollars ($25.00).
(7) Nothing contained under this section shall prevent any municipality from enacting criminal penalties for failure to maintain property so as not to constitute a menace to public health, safety and welfare.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.