House Bill 609 — Exclusion from water and sewer districts

Lindsay Atkinson 2020 House bill ratings Leave a Comment

Bill description: HB 609 would simplify the process for landowners to petition for exclusion from a water and/or sewer district.

Rating: +2

Does it in any way restrict public access to information related to government activity or otherwise compromise government transparency or accountability? Conversely, does it increase public access to information related to government activity or increase government transparency or accountability?

HB 609 changes the process for landowners to petition for exclusion from a water and/or sewer district, in a way that simplifies it. Under current law, when a landowner petitions to have  land excluded from a district, there has to be a public hearing on the matter. And, at this hearing, other landowners in the district can come and testify against the exclusions. This puts a lot of power in the hands of other landowners; they can hold petitioning landowners within the boundaries of a district they do not want to be a part of. The current process also requires the petitioning landowner to submit “a deposit of money sufficient to pay all costs of the exclusion proceedings.”

This bill simplifies this process by removing the requirement for a public hearing and its associated costs. Instead, petitioners for exclusion simply have to prove they meet certain requirements. For a water district, the land to be excluded must “rely on means other than water provided by the district as the sole source of water for the property.” For a sewer district, a piece of land must “rely on means other than sewage disposal provided by the district as the sole source of sewage disposal for the property.” 

Normally, removing a public hearing would merit a negative rating from us. However, the current public hearing process involves people who do not really need to be involved in the exclusion petition process and adds an unnecessary cost to petitioning landowners.

(+1)

Does it directly or indirectly create or increase any taxes, fees, or other assessments? Conversely, does it eliminate or reduce any taxes, fees, or other assessments? 

This simplified process for exclusion proceedings allows landowners to not be taxed if they do not want to be. More importantly, it ensures they are not taxed for services that they are not using. 

(+1)