Skip to navigation Skip to content Skip to subnav
Searching 2017-2018 Session

The Vermont Statutes Online

Title 24: Municipal and County Government

Chapter 087: SPECIAL ASSESSMENTS

  • Subchapter 001: GENERAL PROVISIONS
  • § 3251. Definitions

    As used in this chapter:

    (1) "Legislative body" means "legislative body" as defined in section 2001 of this title.

    (2) "Property" means real estate.

    (3) "Sewage system" means "sewage system" as defined in subdivision 3501(6) of this title.

    (4) "Special assessment" means a tax assessed against one or more properties receiving the benefit of a particular public improvement, as distinguished from a tax on the entire grand list of a municipality.

    (5) "Water system" means "water system" as defined in subdivision 3341(b)(2) of this title without reference to any determination by the water commission. (Added 1969, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. March 2, 1970.)

  • § 3252. Purpose of assessments

    Special assessments may be made for the purchase, construction, repair, reconstruction, or extension of a water system or sewage system, or any other public improvement which is of benefit to a limited area of a municipality to be served by the improvement, including those projects authorized under subchapter 2 of this chapter. (Added 1969, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. March 2, 1970; amended 2009, No. 45, § 15i, eff. May 27, 2009.)

  • § 3253. Method of apportionment

    A special assessment may be apportioned among the properties to be benefited thereby according to the listed value of such properties in the grand list, the frontage thereof, the added value accruing to each property by reason of the public improvement for which such assessment is made, or by any method other than the foregoing which results in a fair apportionment of the cost of the improvement in accordance with the benefits received. (Added 1969, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. March 2, 1970.)

  • § 3254. Approval of voters

    A special assessment under this chapter shall be levied only by vote of a majority of the qualified voters of the municipality voting at an annual or special meeting duly warned for that purpose. However, the question need not be submitted to the voters if all of the owners of record of property to be assessed, or of any interest therein, other than mortgagees or lien holders, consent in writing to the assessment. Either the vote or the consent shall include approval of the method of apportionment of the assessment. (Added 1969, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. March 2, 1970.)

  • § 3255. Collection of assessments; liens

    (a) Special assessments under this chapter shall constitute a lien on the property against which the assessment is made in the same manner and to the same extent as taxes assessed on the grand list of a municipality, and all procedures and remedies for the collection of taxes shall apply to special assessments.

    (b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, a lien for an assessment under subchapter 2 of this chapter shall be subordinate to all liens on the property in existence at the time the lien for the assessment is filed on the land records, shall be subordinate to a first mortgage on the property recorded after such filing, and shall be superior to any other lien on the property recorded after such filing. In no way shall this subsection affect the status or priority of any municipal lien other than a lien for an assessment under subchapter 2 of this chapter. (Added 1969, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. March 2, 1970; amended 2011, No. 47, § 18a, eff. July 1, 2012.)

  • § 3256. Construction with other laws

    Nothing contained in this chapter shall prohibit the financing of any of the improvements referred to in this chapter by a tax on the grand list of a municipality, or by other means. (Added 1969, No. 170 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. March 2, 1970.)


  • Subchapter 002: PROPERTY-ASSESSED CLEAN ENERGY
  • § 3261. Property-assessed clean energy districts; approval of voters

    (a)(1) In this subchapter, "district" means a property-assessed clean energy district.

    (2) The legislative body of a town, city, or incorporated village may submit to the voters of the municipality the question of whether to designate the municipality as a property-assessed clean energy district. In a district, only those property owners who have entered into written agreements with the municipality under section 3262 of this title would be subject to a special assessment, as set forth in section 3255 of this title.

    (b) Upon a vote of approval by a majority of the qualified voters of the municipality voting at an annual or special meeting duly warned for that purpose, the municipality may incur indebtedness for or otherwise finance projects relating to renewable energy, as defined in 30 V.S.A. § 8002(17), or to eligible projects relating to energy efficiency as defined by section 3267 of this title, undertaken by owners of dwellings, as defined in Section 103(v) of the federal Truth in Lending Act, within the boundaries of the town, city, or incorporated village. (Added 2009, No. 45, § 15j, eff. May 27, 2009; amended 2011, No. 47, § 18c, eff. May 25, 2011.)

  • § 3262. Written agreements; consent of property owners; energy savings analysis

    (a) Upon an affirmative vote made pursuant to section 3261 of this title and the performance of an energy savings analysis pursuant to subsection (b) of this section, an owner of a dwelling, as defined in Section 103(v) of the federal Truth in Lending Act, within the boundaries of a district may enter into a written agreement with the municipality that shall constitute the owner's consent to be subject to a special assessment, as set forth in section 3255 of this title. Entry into such an agreement may occur only after January 1, 2012. A participating municipality shall follow underwriting criteria established by the Department of Financial Regulation, and shall establish other qualifying criteria to provide an adequate level of assurance that property owners will have the ability to meet assessment payment obligations. A participating municipality shall refuse to enter into a written agreement with a property owner who fails to meet the underwriting or other qualifying criteria.

    (b) Prior to entering into a written agreement, a property owner shall have an analysis performed to quantify the project costs and energy savings and estimated carbon impacts of the proposed energy improvements, including an annual cash-flow analysis. This analysis shall be conducted by the entities appointed as energy efficiency utilities under 30 V.S.A. § 209(d)(2), or conducted by another entity deemed qualified by the participating municipality. All analyses shall be reviewed and approved by the entities appointed as energy efficiency utilities.

    (c) A written agreement shall provide that:

    (1) The length of time allowed for the property owner to repay the assessment shall not exceed the life expectancy of the project. In instances where multiple projects have been installed, the length of time shall not exceed the average lifetime of all projects, weighted by cost. Lifetimes of projects shall be determined by the entities appointed as energy efficiency utilities under 30 V.S.A. § 209(d)(2) or another qualified technical entity designated by a participating municipality.

    (2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law:

    (A) At the time of a transfer of property ownership including foreclosure, the past due balances of any special assessment under this subchapter shall be due for payment, but future payments shall continue as a lien on the property.

    (B) In the event of a foreclosure action, the past due balances described in subdivision (A) of this subdivision (2) shall include all payments on an assessment under this subchapter that are due and unpaid as of the date the action is filed, and all payments on the assessment that become due after that date and that accrue up to and including the date title to the property is transferred to the mortgage holder, the lien holder, or a third party in the foreclosure action. The person or entity acquiring title to the property in the foreclosure action shall be responsible for payments on the assessment that become due after the date of such acquisition.

    (3) A participating municipality shall disclose to participating property owners each of the following:

    (A) The risks associated with participating in the program, including risks related to the failure of participating property owners to make payments and the risk of foreclosure.

    (B) The provisions of subsection (h) of this section that pertain to prepayment of the assessment.

    (d) A written agreement or notice of such agreement and the analysis performed pursuant to subsection (b) of this section shall be filed with the clerk of the applicable municipality for recording in the land records of that municipality and shall be disclosed to potential buyers prior to transfer of property ownership. Personal financial information provided to a municipality by a participating property owner or potential participating property owner shall not be subject to disclosure as set forth in 1 V.S.A. § 317(c)(7). If a notice of agreement is filed instead of the full written agreement, the notice shall attach the analysis performed pursuant to subsection (b) of this section and shall include at least each of the following:

    (1) the name of the property owner as grantor;

    (2) the name of the municipality as grantee;

    (3) the date of the agreement;

    (4) a legal description of the real property against which the assessment is made pursuant to the agreement;

    (5) the amount of the assessment and the period during which the assessment will be made on the property;

    (6) a statement that the assessment will remain a lien on the property until paid in full or released; and

    (7) the location at which the original or a true, legible copy of the agreement may be examined.

    (e) At least 30 days prior to entering into a written agreement, the property owner shall provide to the holders of any existing mortgages on the property notice of his or her intent to enter into the written agreement.

    (f) The total amount of assessments under this subchapter shall not exceed more than 15 percent of the assessed value of the property. The combined amount of the assessment plus any outstanding mortgage obligations for the property shall not exceed 90 percent of the assessed value of that property.

    (g) With respect to an agreement under this section:

    (1) the assessments to be repaid under the agreement, when calculated as if they were the repayment of a loan, shall not violate 9 V.S.A. §§ 41a, 43, 44, and 46-50;

    (2) the maximum length of time for the owner to repay the assessment shall not exceed 20 years; and

    (3) the maximum amount to be repaid for the project, including the participating property owner's contribution to the reserve fund under subsection 3269(c) of this title, shall not exceed $30,000.00 or 15 percent of the assessed value of the property, whichever is less.

    (h) There shall be no penalty or premium for prepayment of the outstanding balance of an assessment under this subchapter if the balance is prepaid in full. (Added 2009, No. 45, § 15j, eff. May 27, 2009; amended 2011, No. 47, § 18d, eff. May 25, 2011 and Jan. 1, 2012; 2011, No. 78 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 2, 2012.)

  • § 3263. Costs of operation of district

    The owners of real property who have entered into written agreements with the municipality under section 3262 of this title shall be obligated to cover the costs of operating the district. A municipality may use other available funds to operate the district. (Added 2009, No. 45, § 15j, eff. May 27, 2009.)

  • § 3264. Rights of property owners

    A property owner who has entered into a written agreement with the municipality under section 3262 of this title may enter into a private agreement for the installation or construction of a project relating to renewable energy, as defined in 30 V.S.A. § 8002(17), or relating to energy efficiency as defined in section 3267 of this title. (Added 2009, No. 45, § 15j, eff. May 27, 2009.)

  • § 3265. Liability of municipality

    (a) A municipality that incurs indebtedness for or otherwise finances projects under this subchapter shall not be liable for the failure of performance of a project.

    (b) A municipality that incurs indebtedness for bonding under this subchapter shall pledge the full faith and credit of the municipality. (Added 2009, No. 45, § 15j, eff. May 27, 2009.)

  • § 3266. Intermunicipal agreements

    Two or more municipalities, by resolution of their respective legislative bodies or boards, may establish and enter into agreements for incurring indebtedness or otherwise financing projects under this subchapter. (Added 2009, No. 45, § 15j, eff. May 27, 2009.)

  • § 3267. Eligible energy efficiency projects; assistance to municipalities

    Those entities appointed as energy efficiency utilities under 30 V.S.A. § 209(d):

    (1) shall develop a list of eligible energy efficiency projects and shall make the list available to the public on or before July 1 of each year; and

    (2) shall provide information concerning implementation of this subchapter to each municipality, within the area in which the entity delivers efficiency services, that requests such information, and shall contact each such municipality that votes to establish a district to offer this information. (Added 2009, No. 45, § 15j, eff. May 27, 2009; amended 2011, No. 47, § 18e, eff. Jan. 1, 2012.)

  • § 3268. Release of lien

    (a) A municipality shall release a participating property owner of the lien on the property against which the assessment under this subchapter is made upon full payment of the value of the assessment.

    (b) Notice of a release of a lien for an assessment under this subchapter shall be filed with the clerk of the applicable municipality for recording in the land records of that municipality. (Added 2009, No. 45, § 15j, eff. May 27, 2009; amended 2011, No. 47, § 18f, eff. Jan. 1, 2012.)

  • § 3269. Reserve fund

    (a) A reserve fund is created for use in paying the past due balances of an assessment under this subchapter in the event that there is a foreclosure upon the property subject to the assessment and the proceeds resulting from the foreclosure are, after all superior liens have been satisfied, insufficient to pay those past due balances. The reserve fund shall comply with the provisions of subsections (b) through (e) of this section and shall be administered by and in the custody of the entity described in subsection (f) of this section. Each municipality that establishes a district under this subchapter shall participate in the reserve fund created by this subsection.

    (b) The reserve fund shall be funded by participating property owners at a level sufficient to provide for the payment of past due balances described in subdivision 3262(c)(2) of this title in the event of a foreclosure upon a participating property and the costs of administering the reserve fund and shall only be used to provide for such payment and administration.

    (c) The contribution of each participating property owner to the reserve fund shall be included in the special assessment applicable to the property and shall be subject to section 3255 of this title. From time to time, the Commissioner of Financial Regulation shall determine the appropriate contribution to the fund in accordance with subsection (d) of this section. A determination by the Commissioner under this subsection shall apply to the reserve fund contribution for an assessment concerning which a written agreement under section 3262 is signed after the date of the Commissioner's determination and shall not affect the reserve fund contribution for an assessment concerning which such an agreement was signed on or before the date of the Commissioner's determination.

    (d) The reserve fund shall be capitalized in accordance with standards and procedures approved by the Commissioner of Financial Regulation to cover expected foreclosures and fund administration costs based on good lending practice experience. Interest earned shall remain in the fund. The administrator of the reserve fund shall invest and reinvest the monies in the fund and hold, purchase, sell, assign, transfer, and dispose of the investments in accordance with the standard of care established by the Prudent Investor Rule under 9 V.S.A. chapter 147. The administrator shall apply the same investment objectives and policies adopted by the Vermont State Employees' Retirement System, where appropriate, to the investment of monies in the fund.

    (e) The municipality shall disclose in advance to each interested property owner the amount of that property owner's required payment into the reserve fund. Once disclosed, the amount of the reserve fund payment shall not change over the life of the assessment.

    (f) An entity appointed under 30 V.S.A. § 209(d)(2) to deliver energy efficiency programs to multiple service territories shall administer the reserve fund created under subdivision (a)(1) of this section.

    (1) The entity's costs of administering the reserve fund shall be considered costs of operating the districts under section 3263 of this title.

    (2) In the event of foreclosure on a property that is subject to a special assessment and is in a district that participates in the reserve fund administered by the entity, the entity's obligation shall be to disburse, at the direction of the municipality, monies from the reserve fund to apply to the past due balances of the assessment. In no event shall other monies received or held by the entity be available to meet this obligation or the payment of balances on an assessment.

    (3) The entity shall keep an accurate account of all activities and receipts and expenditures under this subsection. An independent audit of the reserve fund shall be conducted annually. The cost of such an audit shall be considered a cost of administering the reserve fund. Where feasible, the entity shall cause this audit to be conducted in conjunction with other independent audits of its accounts, receipts, and expenditures. An audit conducted under this subdivision shall be available, on request, to the Auditor of Accounts and the Commissioners of Financial Regulation and of Public Service. (Added 2009, No. 45, § 15j, eff. May 27, 2009; amended 2011, No. 47, § 18g, eff. Jan. 1, 2012; 2011, No. 78 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 2, 2012.)

  • § 3270. State PACE Reserve Fund

    (a) The State PACE Reserve Fund is established to be held in the custody of and administered by the State Treasurer. The purpose of the State PACE Reserve Fund shall be to reduce, for those districts for which the entity described in subsection 3269(f) of this title administers the loss reserve fund, the risk faced by an investor making an agreement with a municipality to finance such a district.

    (b) The Treasurer may invest monies in the Fund in accordance with 32 V.S.A. § 434. All balances in the Fund at the end of the fiscal year shall be carried forward and shall not revert to the General Fund. Interest earned shall remain in the Fund. The Treasurer's annual financial report to the General Assembly under 32 V.S.A. § 434 shall contain an accounting of receipts, disbursements, and earnings of the Fund.

    (c) At the direction of the Treasurer, a sum shall be transferred to the Fund from monies deposited into the Energy Efficiency Fund pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 209(d)(7) (net capacity savings payments) and (8) (net revenues from the sale of carbon credits).

    (1)(A) For a given year, the sum transferred under this subsection shall be:

    (i) five percent of the total amount of those assessments concerning which owners of real property, in the districts described in subsection (a) of this section, are expected to enter into written agreements pursuant to section 3262 of this title during the year; and

    (ii) such additional amount, if any, that is necessary to meet the full amount of payments reasonably expected to be made from the State PACE Reserve Fund during that year.

    (B) In no event shall the sum transferred under this subsection exceed the limits on the total amount of funding from the State PACE Reserve Fund set forth under subsection (f) of this section.

    (2) When directing a transfer under this subsection, the Treasurer shall notify the Commissioners of Finance and Management and of Public Service, the Chair of the Public Utility Commission, and the entity described in subsection 3269(f) of this title. Monies shall not be disbursed from the State PACE Reserve Fund until necessary resources are transferred to the Fund.

    (d) Monies deposited to the State PACE Reserve Fund and any interest on monies in that Fund shall be used for the sole purpose of paying claims as described in subsections (e) and (f) of this section. In no event shall any monies received or held by the State of Vermont, other than monies deposited into the State PACE Reserve Fund or interest on monies in that Fund, be available to meet this obligation or the payment of a remaining past due balance or any other obligation under this subchapter.

    (e) In this section, "remaining past due balance" means that amount, if any, of a past due balance on an assessment under this subchapter that exists:

    (1) immediately following foreclosure on a property in a district that participates in the loss reserve fund administered by the entity described in subsection 3269(f) of this title; and

    (2) after the application, to the past due balances of the assessment on that property, of the proceeds available from the foreclosure, net of superior liens, and of the assets of that loss reserve fund.

    (f) The obligation of the State PACE Reserve Fund shall be to fund 90 percent of a remaining past due balance, upon presentation of a claim and application acceptable to the Treasurer and the entity described in subsection 3269(f) of this title, provided that the total amount of all such funding from the State PACE Reserve Fund shall not exceed the smallest of the following:

    (1) $1,000,000.00.

    (2) The funds available pursuant to subsection (d) of this section.

    (3) Five percent of the total of all assessments under this subchapter in the districts that participate in the loss reserve fund administered by the entity described in subsection 3269(f) of this title. (Added 2011, No. 47, § 18h, eff. Jan. 1, 2012.)

  • § 3271. Monitoring; compliance; underwriting criteria

    The Department of Public Service created under 30 V.S.A. § 1 shall monitor and evaluate, for compliance with the underwriting criteria, standards, and procedures established under subsections 3262(a) (underwriting criteria for assessments) and 3269(c) and (d) (underwriting standards and procedures; loss reserve fund) of this title, all activities to which those criteria, standards, and procedures apply that are undertaken by an entity appointed under 30 V.S.A. § 209(d)(2) to deliver energy efficiency programs. The Department shall consult with the Department of Financial Regulation in performing these tasks. The Department of Public Service may combine its tasks under this section with monitoring and evaluation of an energy efficiency entity conducted pursuant to 30 V.S.A. § 209(d) or (e). (Added 2011, No. 47, § 18i, eff. Jan. 1, 2012; amended 2011, No. 78 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. April 2, 2012.)