BULLET St. Louis City Charter Article XXIII Special Tax Bills*

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Article XXIII
Special Tax Bills*

* V.A.M.S.:

Ch. 88 Public works and special assessments therefor

City Counselor Ops.: 8049, 9135


Proceedings under this article are in nature of proceedings in rem. Alexander v. Haffner, 20 S.W. 2d 896, 323 Mo. 1197 (1929).


38.155--38.159 Bonds, Certificates, Warrants or Special Tax Bills

Section 1 Preparation, certification and delivery.

For all special assessments for public work or improvements under this charter and ordinances adopted in pursuance thereof, special tax bills shall be prepared and signed by a person designated by the board of public service by resolution entered on its records and shall be made payable to the parties entitled, either at the collector’s office or at some bank or trust company in the city, at the option of the party so entitled. They shall be promptly registered and certified both in the office of said board and of the comptroller by persons designated by said board and by the comptroller respectively to make such registration and certificate, and then delivered by the comptroller to the parties entitled and their receipts taken therefor; and the city shall not be liable in any manner for any work or improvement to be paid for in special tax bills.

City Counselor Ops.: 8713


Failure to state the statutory place of payment is a mere technicality and does not invalidate the bill. Granite Bituminous Paving Co. v. McManus, 148 S.W. 621, 2010 Mo. 184 (1912).

The signatures of the comptroller and the president of the board of public service do not validate a special tax bill. The necessary signatures are defined explicitly in this section. Bates v. Comstock Realty Co., 267 S.W. 641, 306 Mo. 312 (1924).

Section 2 Installments authorized; maturity.

Any special tax bills may be divided, if the ordinance authorizing the particular work or improvement so provides, into any number of equal annual installments, not to exceed ten, whereof the first shall be due upon service of the notice hereinafter provided for or upon a "not found" return by the marshal as hereinafter mentioned, and the other installments successively on the corresponding day of each subsequent year, with interest payable annually on each installment at the rate of six per centum per annum from such notice or "not found" return until maturity or prior payment and at the rate of eight per centum per annum after maturity.

All such special tax bills not payable in installments shall mature upon notice or "not found" return as aforesaid and draw interest at the rate of eight per centum per annum after maturity; provided, that the entire bill or any number of installments may be paid within thirty days after such notice or "not found" return without any interest.

City Counselor Ops.: 8919


The interest is computed from the date of maturity of the various installments. Everymann v. Stevens, 170 S.W. 330, 185 Mo. App. 168 (1914).

Notice is required to fix the dates of maturity of the several installments. Bates v. Schwenker, 3 S.W. 2d 277 (1928).

Section 3 Service of notice of issuance; return.

The owner of any special tax bill shall serve a written notice of the issuance thereof on the parties named therein, or the city marshal at such owner’s request shall serve such notice and make return of such service in the manner provided as to writs of summons in civil causes; and he shall receive therefor the fees then allowed for serving such writs. Such marshal’s return shall be conclusive of the facts therein stated, and any person injured by a false return on any such notice shall have his right of action for damages resulting therefrom against the marshal on his official bond.


Place of payment need not be stated in the notice. Granite Bituminous Paving Co. v. McManus, 148 S.W. 621, 244 Mo. 184 (1912).

The notice does not have to contain a legal description of the property. Schneider Granite Co. v. Gast Realty and Investment Co., 168 S.W. 687, 259 Mo. 153 (1914).

Unverified statement service is not competent proof. Parker-Washington Co. v. Dodd, 264 S.W. 651, 305 Mo. 171 (1924).

Under this section the court made no error in excluding testimony offered to contradict the return of the marshal. Bambrick Bros. Const. Co. v. McCormick, 137 S.W. 43, 157 Mo. App. 198 (1911).

Section 4 Effect as evidence of liability.

All special tax bills shall be prima facie evidence of what they contain and of their own validity, and no mere informality or clerical mistake in any of the proceedings leading to the issuance of or in any special tax bill shall be a defense thereto; provided that if the work was not done in a good workmanlike manner according to the class of work mentioned in the contract the property charged with the payment of said bill shall be liable only for the value of such work done, and the recovery on the special tax bill shall be reduced accordingly.

City Counselor Ops.: 10118, 10219


The matters of which the tax bill is prima facie evidence must be proved aliunde against an owner not named therein. McCormick v. Clopton, 130 S.W. 122, 150 Mo. App. 129 (1910).

Under this section tax bill will be judged valid against claim that assessment was improperly made. Granite Bituminous Paving Co. v. Parkview Realty and Improvement Co., 151 S.W. 487, 168 Mo. App. 498 (1912).

A special tax lien is not prima facie evidence of a lien against the property to a mortgagee not named therein. Granite Bituminous Paving Co. v. Parkview Realty and Improvement Co., 201 S.W. 933, 199 Mo. A p. 226 (1918).

A petition stating a cause of action on a special tax bill and proof in conformity thereto constitutes a prima facie case. Central Paving and Const. Co. v. Eighth and Morgan G. and F. S., 159 S.W. 2d 604 (1941).

Section 5 Lien; priority; legal remedies for collection.

All special tax bills shall be a first lien on the property charged therewith from the day of issuance thereof; provided, there shall be no priority between special tax bills issued under this charter, regardless of the date of such bills.

The entire bill or any installment thereof, together with interest, may be collected by action in any court of competent jurisdiction; and such action may be brought by attachment when the owner of the land affected is a nonresident of the state or after a "not found" return is made by the city marshal on any such notice, in either which event the suit shall be equivalent to notice and demand of payment.

City Counselor Ops.: 9929


The lien of the special tax bill like the lien for general taxes is superior to other encumbrances on the land. Morey Engineering and Const. Co. v. St. Louis A. Ice Rink Co., 146 S.W. 1142, 242 Mo. 241 (1912).

As between two tax bills, the earlier in time has priority over the latter unless otherwise indicated. Parker-Washington Co. v. Corcoran, 129 S.W. 1031, 150 Mo. App. 188 (1910).

The lien of a benefit judgment is a tax lien and governed by the rule of reverse priorities. Stiers v. Vrooman, 115 S.W. 2d 84,234 Mo. App. 161 (1938), City of St. Louis v. Wall, 124 S.W. 2d 616, 235 Mo. App. 9 (1939).

Section 6 Right of acceleration; interest on judgment.

If any installment of any special tax bill or any interest thereon be not paid when due, then all remaining installments, together with interest thereon as aforesaid, shall, at the option of the holder if exercised by suit thereon, immediately become due; and a judgment on such bill shall bear interest at the rate of eight per centum per annum.

Section 7 Assignment and change of place of payment.

Special tax bills and the lien thereof may be assigned and the place of payment thereof changed to the office of the collector or to any bank or trust company in the city. But any such assignment or change of place of payment to be valid must be in writing, countersigned by the comptroller or by one of his deputies, acknowledged before an officer authorized to take acknowledgments, and registered in the office of the comptroller.

Section 8 Receipt of payments by collector; bills to be marked satisfied; expiration of lien.

It shall be the duty of the collector to receive payment of all special tax bills made payable at his office and thereupon deliver the same receipted; and he shall, upon warrants of the comptroller, pay over all such collections to the parties entitled. The persons paying any such bill shall be entitled to have the same satisfied on the register in the comptroller’s office, in whole or in part, as the case may be, immediately on presentation to the comptroller of either the receipted tax bill or a receipt from the collector or the proper bank or trust company showing such payment thereof; and the lien of any bill shall cease and be of no effect against the land charged therewith at the end of two years after the maturity of the bill or the last installment thereof, unless proceedings at law shall then be pending to collect the same, and written notice of the institution thereof setting forth when and in what court such proceedings were brought shall have been filed in the office of the comptroller within ten days after the institution of such suit.


This section applies to special tax bills issued for improvements and does not apply to special tax bills issued for benefit assessments. Pleadwell v. Missouri Glass Co., 131 S.W. 941, 151 Mo. App. 51 (1910).

The two-year period not merely bars action but limits the existence of the lien. Granite Bituminous Pav. Co. v. Parkview Realty and I. Co., 201 S.W. 933, 199 Mo. App. 226 (1918).

Section 9 Ordinance ratifying irregularities.

If any ordinance authorizing a public work or improvement or fixing a benefit or taxing district, shall be irregular, defective or invalid by reason of any omission, error or irregularity therein or in the proceedings leading to its adoption, or if for any reason it shall be necessary to the validity of any special assessment, the board of aldermen may, on recommendation of the board of public service, adopt an ordinance ratifying all things done under or in pursuance of the original ordinance, and supplying, correcting and curing all such omissions, errors, defects and irregularities, and making such special assessment valid.

Section 10 New assessment to be made and tax bills issued where original assessment invalid.

Where public work or improvement has been done under an ordinance providing that it should be paid for by special assessment and the whole or part of such special assessment has been adjudged invalid for any reason other than the failure of the contractor to perform his contract, the board of public service shall levy a new assessment and evidence the same by tax bills in the same manner and with like effect as if validly done hereunder in the first instance.

Section 11 Amendment of assessment and tax bills.

Special assessments or tax bills evidencing the same may be amended by the officer or officers authorized at the time to prepare special tax bills or by the courts in proceedings to enforce the same, to correct or supply descriptions, names and other errors, omissions and irregularities on the part of the city, and may be divided by said officer or officers at the request of any of the parties concerned according to divisions of the property made subsequent to the bills being prepared, and without affecting the interest on such amended or divided bill.

Section 12 Additional provisions authorized.

The city by ordinance recommended by the board of public service may, from time to time, make further provision by ordinance, not inconsistent with this charter, for special assessments, the issuance of special tax bills therefor, the collection thereof, and all matters incidental thereto.

City Counselor Ops.: 9929

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