Senate Bill No. 248
Introduced By _______________________________________________________________________________
A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act prohibiting a county water or sewer district and a governing body of a municipal water or sewer system from requiring the owners of real property to pay outstanding charges for services to the property when the charges have been incurred by a renter and not the property owner; and amending sections 7-13-2301, 7-13-4305, 7-13-4306, and 7-13-4309, MCA."
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
Section 1. Section 7-13-2301, MCA, is amended to read:
"7-13-2301. Establishment of charges for services -- payment of charges. (1) The board of directors shall fix all water and sewer rates and shall, through the general manager, collect the sewer charges and the charges for the sale and distribution of water to all users.
(2) The board, in furnishing water, sewer service, other services, and facilities, shall review, at least once every 2 years, and from time to time fix the rate, fee, toll, rent, or other charge for the services, facilities, and benefits directly afforded by the facilities, taking into account services provided and direct benefits received, that will be sufficient in each year to provide income and revenue adequate for:
(a) the payment of the reasonable expense of operation and maintenance of the facilities;
(b) administration of the district;
(c) the payment of principal and interest on any bonded or other indebtedness of the district; and
(d) the establishment or maintenance of any required reserves, including reserves needed for expenditures for depreciation and replacement of facilities, as may be determined necessary from time to time by the board or as covenanted in the ordinance or resolution authorizing the outstanding bonds of the district.
(3) Except as provided in subsection (5), a
A person or entity may not use any facility without paying the rate established
for the facility. In the event of nonpayment, the board may order the discontinuance of water or sewer service or both to the
property and may require that all delinquent charges, interest, penalties, and deposits be paid before restoration of the
(4) (a) Except as provided in subsection (5), if
If the board has ordered discontinuance of service, as provided in
subsection (3), and the person or entity who received the service has not made full payment of all delinquent charges,
interest, penalties, and deposits, then a district may elect to have its delinquent charges for water or sewer services collected
as a tax against the property by following the procedures of this subsection (4). If a charge for services is due and payable
in a fiscal year and is not paid by the end of the fiscal year, the general manager shall, by July 15 of the succeeding fiscal
year, give notice to the owners of the property to which the service was provided. The notice must be in writing and:
(i) must specify the charges owed, including any interest and penalty;
(ii) must specify that the amount due must be paid by August 15 or it will be levied as a tax against the property;
(iii) must state that the district may institute suit in any court of competent jurisdiction to recover the amount due; and
(iv) may be served on the owner personally or by letter addressed to the post-office address of the owner as recorded in the county assessor's office.
(b) On September 1 of each year, the general manager shall certify and file with the county assessor a list of all property,
including legal descriptions, on which arrearages remain unpaid. The list must include the amount of each arrearage,
including interest and penalty. The county assessor shall assess the amount owed as a tax against each lot or parcel with an
arrearage. If the property on which arrearages remain unpaid contains a mobile home, the amount owed must be assessed as
a tax against the owner of the mobile home.
If the mobile home for which arrearages remain unpaid is no longer on the
property, the amount owed must be assessed as a tax against the property.
(5) (a) The district may not collect any unpaid arrearages as a tax against real property if the arrearages are the result of delinquent charges, interest, penalties, and deposits incurred by a renter of the real property and not the owner of the real property.
(b) A board may not require that all delinquent charges, interest, penalties, and deposits incurred by a renter be paid by the owner of the property before restoration of service to that property.
(5)(6) In addition to collecting delinquent charges in the same manner as a tax, a district may bring suit in any court of
competent jurisdiction to collect amounts due as a debt owed to the district. (6)(7) Notwithstanding any other section of part 22 or this part or any limitation imposed in part 22 or this part, when the
board has applied for and received from the federal government any money for the construction, operation, and
maintenance of facilities, the board may adopt a system of charges and rates to require that each recipient of facility
services pays its proportionate share of the costs of operation, maintenance, and replacement and may require industrial
users of facilities to pay the portion of the cost of construction of the facilities that is allocable to the treatment of that
industrial user's wastes."
Section 2. Section 7-13-4305, MCA, is amended to read:
"7-13-4305. Consumers required to pay for services. (1)
No A person, firm, or corporation shall be permitted to may
not use said a water or sewer system unless they pay it pays the full and established rate for said the service.
(2) Except as provided in 7-13-4306(2), a
No person, firm, or corporation may not have service reestablished after it is
discontinued pursuant to 7-13-4306 unless they have it has paid the full amount past due, any interest or penalty on such the
past-due amount, and any required reestablishment deposit."
Section 3. Section 7-13-4306, MCA, is amended to read:
"7-13-4306. Effect of failure to pay charges. (1) Except as provided in subsection (2), in
In the event of nonpayment of
charges for either water or sewer service and benefits to any premises, the governing body may direct that the supply of
water or provision of sewer service to such the premises to be discontinued until such the charges are paid.
(2) A governing body may not require that all delinquent charges, interest, penalties, and deposits incurred by a renter be paid by the owner of the property before restoration of service to that property."
Section 4. Section 7-13-4309, MCA, is amended to read:
"7-13-4309. Procedure to collect sewer charges. (1) The sewer charges must be collected by the treasurer.
(2) Except as provided in subsection (5), on
On or before July 15 of each year, notice must be given by the city treasurer or
town clerk to the owners of all lots or parcels of real estate to which sewer service has been furnished prior to July 1 by the
city or town. The notice must specify the assessment owing and in arrears at the time of giving notice. The notice must be
in writing and must state the amount of arrearage, including any penalty and interest assessed pursuant to the provisions of
the city or town ordinance, and that unless the amount is paid by August 15, the amount will be levied as a tax against the
lot or parcel of real estate to which sewer service was furnished and for which payment is delinquent. The notice must also
state that the city or town may by suit collect past-due assessments, interest, and penalties, as a debt owing the city or town,
in any court of competent jurisdiction, including city court. The notice may be delivered to the owner personally or by letter
addressed to the owner at the post-office address of the owner as shown in property tax records maintained by the
department of revenue.
(3) (a) Except as provided in
subsection subsections (3)(b) and (5), on September 1, the city treasurer or town clerk shall
certify and file with the department of revenue a list of all lots or parcels of real estate, giving the legal description of the lot
or parcel, to the owners of which notices of arrearage in payments were given and which arrearage remains unpaid and
stating the amount of the arrearage, including any penalty and interest. The department of revenue shall insert the amount
as a tax against the lot or parcel of real estate.
(b) Except as provided in subsection (5), in
In cities where the council has provided by ordinance for the collection of
taxes, the city treasurer shall collect the delinquent amount, including penalty and interest, as a tax against the lot or parcel
of real estate to which sewer service was furnished and payment for which is delinquent.
(4) Except as provided in subsection (5), a
A city or town may, in addition to pursuing the collection of assessments in the
same manner as a tax, bring suit in any court of competent jurisdiction, including city court, to collect the amount due and
owing, including penalties and interest, as a debt owing the city or town.
(5) A city or town may not collect any unpaid arrearages as a tax against real property if the arrearages are the result of delinquent charges, interest, penalties, and deposits incurred by a renter of the real property and not the owner of the real property."