156-114. Conveyance of land; change in assessment roll; procedure.

(a) Status of Land Fixed. - The boundaries of lands as surveyed and mapped, the ownership thereof, and the classification and assessment thereof as appears in the final report and map and upon the assessment roll, shall be and remain as of the time when the district was established and the final report of the board of viewers was approved by the court. No conveyance or devise of land or devolution by inheritance after the petition has been filed or the owner thereof has been served with the original summons, either by personal service or by publication, shall affect the status or liability of such land as a part of such drainage district, except as herein provided.

(b) Conveyance before Final Report. - If the owner of any lands included in such district shall, after the filing of the petition, and after being served with the original summons and before the approval of the final report, convey the whole or any part of such lands, or the title thereto shall be otherwise changed, then and in such event the grantor and grantee or new owner, or either, may file a petition in an ancillary proceeding before the clerk of the superior court setting forth the facts, with a description of the lands conveyed either in part or the entire body of land, together with a description of the land excepted and not conveyed. If the grantor or grantee or new owner, in whole or in part, file such petition, the other not so joining shall be served with notice of same. The clerk may require the petitioner to attach to the petition a map showing the boundaries of the entire body of land as it appears in the record of the proceedings, and also showing the part conveyed. If the ownership of such land has been changed by devise or inheritance, or any joint ownership has been changed by partition, such new owner may file a petition as herein provided. Such petition shall conclude with a prayer that the grantee or new owner be made a party to the proceeding. The court after a hearing may make the grantee or new owner a party to the drainage proceeding and shall certify to the engineer and viewers a description of the land so conveyed or held by the new owner, with directions to verify the boundaries and to classify the land to the same extent as if the grantee was the original party. Any part of such lands not so conveyed shall be and remain a part of the district.

(c) Conveyance after District Established. - After the district shall be established, the lands classified, the final report approved, and the assessment roll filed, no conveyance of any land in the district shall affect or change the existing status or liability of such land as to assessment charges or otherwise, except in the manner herein defined. When the title and ownership of any tract of land embraced in the district have been changed or vested in others by grant, devise, or inheritance, or by partition between joint owners, subsequent to the establishment of the district, the assessment roll may be amended in the following manner: The grantor and grantee, or the new owners, may file a petition with the chairman of the board of drainage commissioners alleging that the ownership of the land has changed, and the manner thereof, in whole or in part. If the whole body of land as appears in the final report or on the assessment roll has changed ownership, a general description consistent with such final report and map shall be sufficient. If the ownership of the body of land has changed only as to part thereof, the petition shall contain a description of the part thereof claimed by the new owners, and the number of acres and the classifications, or the several classes if it be in more than one class, and also a description of that part of the land the title to which remains in the original owner, with the number of acres and with the classification and the several classes if it contains more than one class of land. The petition shall so describe the land and the number of acres in each class as to that part of which the ownership has changed as to maintain the number of acres originally assessed, and the class or classes in which the same has been assessed, and the chairman of the board of drainage commissioners may require the petitioners to have the lands surveyed, and submit a map if the same shall be necessary.

(d) Duty of Chairman of Drainage Commissioners and Clerk. - The chairman of the board of drainage commissioners shall present this petition to the clerk of the superior court at any time thereafter, not later than the first Monday in July following. It shall be the duty of the clerk to examine and verify the facts set forth in the petition, and particularly to determine if the number of acres assessed and the classes thereof against the new owners added to the number of acres and the classes assessed against that part of the land, the title to which has not changed, shall equal the total number of acres and the classes so assessed as appear against such entire body of land in the final report and assessment roll. If the clerk shall be so satisfied, he shall enter an order or decree changing the original assessment roll, or the assessment roll as theretofore amended, by adding the name of the new owner with the number of acres assessed in each class, and by amending the number of acres assessed and the classes thereof against the original owner as appears on the original assessment roll or assessment roll as theretofore amended. It shall be the duty of the clerk after such order to make such changes in the assessment roll. It shall be the duty of the clerk of the superior court in making changes in the original assessment roll from time to time to observe and maintain the total number of acres in each class, to the end that the revenue produced from the annual assessment shall not be thereby diminished. The chairman of the board of drainage commissioners, instead of presenting to the clerk of the court each petition of landowners separately, may combine a number of petitions and present the same to the court at one and the same time. The first Monday in July in each year is hereby set apart as a special day on which petitions for changing the assessment roll may be submitted, at which time the clerk shall hear all petitions not theretofore submitted.

(e) Failure of Chairman of Board to Act. - If the chairman of the board of drainage commissioners shall fail to act when any petition shall be submitted to him as herein provided, or the chairman or any member of the board shall fail to discharge any duty imposed by this section or any other provision of the general drainage law, it is hereby made the duty of the clerk of the superior court, either independently or upon the request of any landowner in the district, to cite such chairman or member to appear before him upon a certain day and show cause why he should not be removed from office, and unless good cause be shown, it shall be the duty of the clerk to remove the chairman or any member of the board of drainage commissioners and to certify his action, to the end that another member may be elected according to law. If the failure of the chairman or any member of the board of drainage commissioners to discharge such duty shall be willful, he shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

(f) When Owner May File Petition with Clerk. - If the grantor and grantee, or all those claiming to have acquired title to any body of land on the assessment roll and whose assessment will be affected, cannot agree upon joinder in a petition to the chairman of the board of drainage commissioners, or if the said chairman fails within a reasonable time to discharge his duty by presenting the petition to the court, then either party interested in the tract of land as it appears on the assessment roll may file a petition with the clerk of the superior court setting forth the facts as to the change in ownership and title of such land, with the description of the entire tract of land and the number of acres in each class, together with a description of that part of the land as to which the ownership has changed, with the number of acres in each class, and pray the court to order that the assessment roll be amended in accordance with the title and interest of the several owners. At the time of filing the petition a summons shall issue to the other parties interested in the tract of land to show cause, on a day certain, why the prayer of the petition should not be granted. Upon the return day the clerk of the court shall hear all the evidence, find the facts, and enter up a judgment directing the appropriate amendment to the assessment roll. It shall be the duty of the clerk to amend the assessment roll in accordance with his judgment.

(g) Effect of Change in Assessment Roll. - No judgment or amendment of the assessment roll shall be valid unless the number of acres and the classes assessed against the original and new owners shall equal the area and classification as contained in the tract of land as it appears on the original assessment roll. This petition may be presented to the court at any time, but the first Monday in July in each year is hereby designated as the day upon which all petitions for amendments to the assessment roll may be submitted. Any amendments to the assessment roll ordered after the last day of August in each year shall not become effective until the first day of September the following year, and the assessment roll as it appears on the first day of September of each year shall constitute the assessment roll to be delivered to the sheriff on the first Monday in September, and he shall collect the drainage assessments as they appear thereon without regard to any changes in title or ownership or any changes in the assessment roll made by the court after the thirty-first day of August. All amendments sought to be made to the assessment roll shall have reference to the assessment roll as it appears at the time the amendment is sought, which shall be either the original assessment roll or as amended; but it shall be the duty of the clerk of the superior court to examine frequently the assessment roll as amended, and before the same shall be further amended, and make certain that the aggregate number of acres in each class as appeared on the original assessment roll shall not be reduced, nor the aggregate annual assessments reduced. Any amendments ordered shall be made on the assessment roll and become due in the following September, and on all subsequent assessment rolls which have not become due or collectible.

(h) Clerk to Prepare New Assessment Rolls. - It shall be the duty of the chairman and the secretary of the board of drainage commissioners of the district to render to the clerk of the court any clerical assistance involved in changes in the assessment rolls, but the primary duty and responsibility in making such amendments shall remain with the clerk of the superior court, and he shall be held liable for any error or omission which may work a loss to the district or the bondholders. If such amendments to the assessment rolls shall make necessary the preparation of new assessment rolls, the clerk of the superior court shall be required to prepare such new assessment rolls with the clerical assistance of the chairman and secretary of the board of drainage commissioners, and such new assessment rolls shall be signed by the chairman and secretary of the board of drainage commissioners and by the clerk of the superior court before delivery to the sheriff or tax collector as required upon the original assessment rolls. The original assessment rolls shall be preserved by the clerk of the court among his records for future reference.

(i) Number of Copies. - In the event it shall be necessary to prepare new assessment rolls, the clerk shall prepare four copies, one copy for the drainage record, another for the sheriff or tax collector, another for the chairman of the board of drainage commissioners, and the other for filing and preserving among the records, and which fourth copy shall never be mutilated or interlined, but shall be preserved in its original form for reference. As to all drainage districts heretofore established, the clerk of the court shall prepare an additional copy of all the original assessment rolls for the several years the lands in such districts are assessed and securely preserve the same, at least until all outstanding bonds of the district shall be paid, to the end that they may always be accessible for reference and comparison. It shall not be necessary hereafter to deliver to the sheriff or tax collector a copy of the assessment roll for the current year in which assessments are due and payable, but the copy provided for him may remain among the records of the clerk of the court for safekeeping and reference by him.

(j) Costs Determined. - As compensation to the clerk of the court for the performance of duties imposed herein, he shall be paid such sum by the board of drainage commissioners of such drainage district as they may deem fair and adequate, and the same is hereby declared a proper charge against said district, but no additional compensation shall be paid to the clerk in those counties where he receives a salary in lieu of fees. Any costs which may accrue in amendments to the assessment rolls shall be adjudged against the parties in interest, in the discretion of the clerk, and such costs shall be paid before the amendment shall become effective. As to all petitions which shall be filed and submitted to the court on the first Monday in July, no costs shall be paid or adjudged against any party in those counties where the clerk and sheriff receive a salary in lieu of fees.

(k) Chairman Represents Board. - As to all petitions filed with the chairman of the board of drainage commissioners, or as to the discharge of any duty by the chairman required of him under the general drainage law, he shall be presumed to act for the board, and the chairman shall do all things necessary to protect and maintain the interests of the drainage district. If the chairman shall be or become a landowner in the drainage district and may desire an amendment to the assessment rolls, he may file his petition before any other member of the board, or file the same directly with the clerk of the superior court.

(l) Application of Section. - The provisions of this section shall apply to landowners in districts heretofore established and to drainage proceedings heretofore instituted to the same extent as to drainage proceedings hereafter instituted and established. (1917, c. 152, s. 4; 1919, c. 208, s. 1; C.S., s. 5370; 1993, c. 539, s. 1078; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c).)