Code of Virginia

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Code of Virginia
Title 15.2. Counties, Cities and Towns
Chapter 24. Service Districts; Taxes and Assessments for Local Improvements
8/16/2022

Article 2. Taxes or Assessments for Local Improvements.

§ 15.2-2404. Authority to impose taxes or assessments for local improvements; purposes.

A. A locality may impose taxes or assessments upon the owners of abutting property for constructing, improving, replacing or enlarging the sidewalks upon existing streets, for improving and paving existing alleys, and for the construction or the use of sanitary or storm water management facilities, retaining walls, curbs and gutters. Such taxes or assessments may include the legal, financial or other directly attributable costs incurred by the locality in creating a district, if a district is created, and financing the payment of the improvements. The taxes or assessments shall not be in excess of the peculiar benefits resulting from the improvements to such abutting property owners. No tax or assessment for retaining walls shall be imposed upon any property owner who does not agree to such tax or assessment.

B. In addition to the foregoing, a locality may impose taxes or assessments upon the owners of abutting property for the construction, replacement or enlargement of waterlines; for the installation of street lights; for the construction or installation of canopies or other weather protective devices; for the installation of lighting in connection with the foregoing; and for permanent amenities, including, but not limited to, benches or waste receptacles. With regard to installation of street lights, a locality may provide by ordinance that upon a petition of at least 60 percent of the property owners within a subdivision, or such higher percent as provided in the ordinance, the locality may impose taxes or assessments upon all owners within the subdivision who benefit from such improvements. The taxes or assessments shall not be in excess of the peculiar benefits resulting from the improvements to such property owners.

C. In the Cities of Chesapeake, Hampton, Hopewell, Newport News, Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach, the governing body may impose taxes or assessments upon the abutting property owners for the initial improving and paving of an existing street provided not less than 50 percent of such abutting property owners who own not less than 50 percent of the property abutting such street request the improvement or paving. The taxes or assessments permitted by this paragraph shall not be in excess of the peculiar benefits resulting from the improvements to such abutting property owners and in no event shall such amount exceed the sum of $10 per front foot of property abutting such street or the sum of $1,000 for any one subdivided lot or parcel abutting such street, whichever is the lesser.

D. The governing bodies of the Cities of Buena Vista, Hampton, and Waynesboro and the County of Augusta may, by duly adopted ordinance, impose taxes or assessments upon abutting property owners subjected to frequent flooding for special benefits conferred upon that property by the installation or construction of flood control barriers, equipment or other improvements for the prevention of flooding in such area and shall provide for the payment of all or any part of the above projects out of the proceeds of such taxes or assessments, provided that such taxes or assessments shall not be in excess of the peculiar benefits resulting from the improvements to such abutting property owners.

E. In the Cities of Hampton, Poquoson and Williamsburg, the governing body may impose taxes or assessments upon the owners of abutting property for the underground relocation of distribution lines for electricity, telephone, cable television and similar utilities. Notwithstanding the provisions of § 15.2-2405, such underground relocation of distribution lines may only be ordered by the governing body and the cost thereof apportioned in pursuance of an agreement between the governing body and the abutting landowners. Notice shall be given to the abutting landowners, notifying them when and where they may appear before the governing body, or some committee thereof, or the administrative board or other similar board of the locality to whom the matter may be referred, to be heard in favor of or against such improvements.

F. The governing body of any locality may request an electric utility that proposes to construct an overhead electric transmission line of 150 kilovolts or more, any portion of which would be located in such locality, to enter into an agreement with the locality that provides (i) the locality will impose a tax or assessment on electric utility customers in a special rate district in an amount sufficient to cover the utility's additional costs of constructing that portion of the proposed line to be located in such locality, or any smaller portion thereof as the utility and the locality may agree, as an underground rather than an overhead line; (ii) the tax or assessment will be shown as a separate item on such customers' electric bills and will be collected by the utility on behalf of the locality; (iii) the utility will construct, operate, and maintain the agreed portion of the line underground; (iv) the locality will pay to the utility its full additional costs of constructing that portion of the line underground rather than overhead; and (v) such other terms and conditions as the parties may agree. This provision shall not apply, however, to lines in operation as of March 1, 2005.

If the locality and the utility enter into such an agreement, the locality shall by ordinance (a) set the boundaries of the special rate district within a reasonable distance of the route of that portion of the line to be placed underground pursuant to the agreement, and (b) fix the amount of such tax or assessment, which shall be based on the assessed value of real property within such district. Thereafter, owners of real property comprising not less than 60 percent of the assessed value of real property within such district may petition the locality to impose such tax or assessment. If such petition is filed, the locality shall submit the agreement to the State Corporation Commission on or before the date by which respondents must prefile testimony and exhibits in any application for approval of the line before the State Corporation Commission, which, after notice and opportunity for hearing, shall approve the agreement if it finds it to be in the public interest. If there exists a practicably feasible overhead alternative for construction of the electric transmission line, the State Corporation Commission shall not approve the agreement unless the governing body of every locality in which the underground segment of the line would be located requests the electric utility to construct the line underground in accordance with this subdivision. If the agreement is approved by the State Corporation Commission, the locality shall impose such tax or assessment on electric utility customers within the district, and the locality and the utility shall carry out the agreement according to its terms and conditions.

G. In the County of Loudoun, the governing body may impose taxes or assessments upon the abutting property owners of Crooked Bridge Lane, located in the Blue Ridge District, for the improvement of the bridge located on Crooked Bridge Lane, including construction, repair and maintenance, provided not less than 50 percent of such abutting property owners who own not less than 50 percent of the property abutting such street request the improvement. The taxes or assessments permitted by this paragraph shall not be in excess of the peculiar benefits resulting from the improvements to such abutting property owners.

Code 1950, § 15-669; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-239; 1966, c. 127; 1971, Ex. Sess., c. 126; 1972, cc. 704, 767; 1976, cc. 512, 617; 1977, c. 225; 1981, c. 581; 1985, c. 59; 1989, cc. 24, 564; 1991, c. 422; 1997, c. 587; 1998, cc. 324, 864; 1999, c. 386; 2005, c. 854; 2007, cc. 260, 813; 2008, c. 355; 2008, Sp. Sess. II, c. 8; 2009, c. 335; 2010, c. 392; 2012, cc. 186, 404.

§ 15.2-2405. How imposed.

Such improvements may be ordered by the governing body and the cost thereof apportioned in pursuance of an agreement between the governing body and the abutting landowners, and, in the absence of such an agreement, the cost of improvements which is to be defrayed in whole or in part by such local tax or assessment, may in cities and towns be ordered on a petition from not less than three-fourths of the landowners to be affected thereby, or in counties on a petition from not less than sixty percent of the landowners to be affected thereby or by a two-thirds vote of all the members elected to the governing body. Notice shall be given to the abutting landowners, notifying them when and where they may appear before the governing body, or some committee thereof, or the administrative board or other similar board of the locality to whom the matter may be referred, to be heard in favor of or against such improvements.

Code 1950, § 15-670; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-240; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2406. How cost assessed or apportioned.

The cost of such improvement, when the same shall have been ascertained, shall be assessed or apportioned by the governing body, or by some committee thereof, or by any officer or board authorized by the governing body to make such assessment or apportionment, between the locality and the abutting property owners when less than the whole is assessed, provided that in cities and towns, except when it is otherwise agreed, that portion assessed against the abutting property owner or owners shall not exceed one-half of the total cost; but in cities and towns having a population not exceeding 12,000, the amount assessed shall not exceed three-fourths of the total cost of such improvement, and in the City of Chesapeake and the City of Virginia Beach, the amount assessed shall not exceed the total cost. Notwithstanding any other provision of this article, any portion of the cost of such improvements not funded by such special assessment may be paid from federal or state funds received by the locality for such purpose.

Code 1950, § 15-671; 1956, c. 27; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-241; 1972, c. 767; 1974, c. 623; 1978, c. 594; 1997, c. 587; 2005, c. 515; 2007, c. 813.

§ 15.2-2407. Assessments to be reported to collector of taxes; postponement of payment by certain property owners.

The amount assessed against each landowner, or for which he is liable by agreement, shall be reported as soon as practicable to the collector of taxes, who shall enter the same as provided for other taxes.

The governing body may provide for the postponement of the payment of such assessment by certain elderly or permanently and totally disabled property owners meeting certain conditions until the sale of the property or the death of the last eligible owner. Eligibility for postponement shall be subject to the conditions set forth in § 58.1-3211 as in effect on December 31, 2010, for such elderly or permanently and totally disabled persons. The governing body may provide for the postponement of the payment of such assessment until the property owner actually connects to the public utility system. However, if the property is conveyed between the time the assessment is made and the time the property owner actually connects to the public utility system, then the entire amount due under the assessment becomes due and payable on the day of the conveyance. In any event, the entire amount of assessment due shall be paid no later than ten years from the creation of the district.

The collector of taxes shall enter those assessments postponed by the governing body in accordance with the conditions prescribed as provided for other taxes, but the eligible property owner shall have the option of payment or postponement.

Code 1950, § 15-672; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-242; 1973, c. 211; 1978, c. 711; 1980, c. 726; 1996, c. 222; 1997, c. 587; 2011, cc. 438, 496.

§ 15.2-2408. Notice to landowner of amount of assessment.

When the assessment or apportionment is not fixed by agreement, notice thereof, and of the amount so assessed or apportioned, shall be given to each of the abutting owners who shall be cited to appear before governing body, committee, officer or board having charge of the matter, not less than ten days thereafter, at the time and place designated, to show cause, if he can, against such assessment or apportionment.

Code 1950, § 15-673; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-243; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2409. How notice given; objections.

The notice may be given by personal service on all persons entitled to such notice, except (i) notice to an infant, a mentally incapacitated person or other person under a disability may be served on his guardian, conservator or committee; (ii) notice to a nonresident may be mailed to him at his place of residence or served on any agent of his having charge of the property or on the tenant of the property; or (iii) in any case when the owner is a nonresident or when the owner's residence is not known, such notice may be given by publication in a newspaper having general circulation in the locality once a week for four successive weeks. In lieu of such personal service on the parties or their agents and of such publication, the notice to all parties may be given by publishing the same in a newspaper having general circulation in the locality, once a week for two successive weeks; the second publication shall be made at least seven days before the parties are cited to appear. Any landowner wishing to make objections to an assessment or apportionment may appear in person or by counsel and state such objections.

Code 1950, § 15-674; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-244; 1984, c. 331; 1997, cc. 587, 801.

§ 15.2-2410. Appeal to court; duty of clerk of governing body, etc.

If a property owner's objections are overruled, he shall, within thirty days thereafter, but not afterwards, have an appeal as of right to the circuit court for the locality. When an appeal is taken, the clerk of the governing body, committee or board, or the officer having charge of the matter, shall immediately deliver to the clerk of such court the original notice relating to the assessment, with the judgment of the governing body, committee, officer or board endorsed thereon, and the clerk of the court shall docket the same.

Code 1950, § 15-675; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-245; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2411. How such appeal tried; lien of judgment; when to take effect; how enforced.

Such appeal shall be tried by the court in a summary way, without pleadings in writing and without a jury, after ten days' notice to the adverse party, and the hearing shall be de novo. The amount finally assessed against or apportioned to each landowner, or fixed by agreement with him, as hereinbefore provided, shall be a lien enforceable in equity on his abutting land, from the time when the work of improvement has been completed, subject to his right of appeal and objections as aforesaid. Such lien shall be enforceable against any person deemed to have had notice of the proposed assessment under § 15.2-2412, but if no abstract of the resolution or ordinance authorizing the improvement is docketed as provided in § 15.2-2412, such lien shall be void as to all purchasers for valuable consideration without notice and lien creditors until and except from the time it is duly admitted to record in the county or city wherein the land is situated.

Code 1950, § 15-676; 1952, c. 332; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-246; 1964, c. 521; 1978, c. 15; 1989, c. 171; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2412. Docketing of abstracts of resolutions or ordinances.

When any improvement is authorized for which assessments may be made against the abutting landowners, the governing body may, before the amount to be finally assessed against or apportioned to each landowner or fixed by agreement is determined, cause to be recorded in the deed book of the circuit court clerk's office for such locality, an abstract of the resolution or ordinance authorizing such improvement showing the ownership and location of the property to be affected by the proposed improvement and the estimated amount that will be assessed against or apportioned to each landowner or fixed by agreement with him and the same shall be indexed in the name of the owner of the property. Such assessment shall be a lien solely on the abutting land as provided in § 15.2-2411.

After the completion of the improvement, the estimated amount shall be amended to show the amount finally assessed against or apportioned to each landowner or fixed by agreement with him, which final amount shall in no event exceed the estimated amount for the improvements as initially authorized. The amount finally assessed against or apportioned to each landowner may be greater than the initially assessed amount when the increased amount is for additional work being performed when the work was requested by the landowner and the additional work and its estimated amount is written into a separate agreement between the locality and the affected landowner. From the time of the docketing of such abstract, any purchaser of, or creditor acquiring a lien on, any of the property described therein shall be deemed to have had notice of the proposed assessment.

Code 1950, § 15-677; 1962, c. 623, § 15.1-247; 1964, c. 521; 1985, c. 169; 1996, c. 222; 1997, c. 587.

§ 15.2-2413. Installment payment of assessments.

The locality making assessments under the provisions of this article may provide that the persons against whom the assessments have been made may pay such assessments in equal installments over a period not exceeding 20 years, together with interest on the unpaid balances at an annual interest rate not to exceed the rate of the index of average yield on United States Treasury securities adjusted to a constant maturity of one year as made available by the Federal Reserve Bank at the time the assessment ordinance was adopted. Such installments shall become due at the same time that real estate taxes become due and payable in the locality in which the assessment was made, and the amount of each installment, including principal and interest, shall be shown on a bill mailed, not later than 14 days prior to the installment due date, to each such person by the treasurer.

In cities, the council, in its discretion, may cause the payment of the amount assessed or apportioned against each landowner, or fixed by agreement with him, for improving sidewalks upon streets or for improving and paving alleys to be made in such manner divided into such installments as shall be determined by the council, bearing interest at such rate as shall be fixed by the council.

If an assessment is made under the provisions of this article for the installation of street lights, the locality making the assessment may provide by ordinance that the actual costs of installing, maintaining and operating such street lights be charged to and collected from each landowner as a separate component of the locality's billing system for any public utility.

1964, c. 304, § 15.1-249.1; 1978, c. 15; 1983, c. 179; 1987, c. 201; 1989, c. 171; 1997, cc. 587, 601; 1999, c. 386; 2003, c. 198.