SECTION 1. The General Laws are hereby amended by inserting after chapter 40W the following chapter:
Chapter 40X: Transit improvement Districts.
Section 1. For the purposes of this chapter, the following words shall, unless the context clearly requires otherwise, have the following meanings:
“Fee”, a payment for services or improvements within a TID.
“Lead municipality”, the municipality exercising managerial control over the TID, as designated by the group of municipalities participating in the establishment of a TID.
“Municipal executive body”, the mayor or city manager in a city or the board of selectmen, town manager, or town administrator in a town.
“Municipal legislative body”, the city council or board of alderman in a city or the town meeting in a town.
“Partnership”, the businesses, entities, municipalities, district, regional entities, and state agencies participating in a TID.
“Program plan”, a statement of means and objectives for providing the capital, operational facilities, and resources to improve transit, transportation, and quality of life within a TID .
“TID”, a transit improvement district formed pursuant to this chapter, which is a specified area within 1 or more municipalities that shall consist of 2 or more parcels or lots of land, whether or not contiguous, or 2 or more buildings or structures, whether or not adjacent, on 2 or more parcels of land; provided, that the total area of all TIDs within a municipality shall not exceed 25 per cent of the total area of the municipality.
“Transit improvement program” a transit program that implements transit improvements upon existing transit services within a TID.
Section 2. (a) Prior to establishing a TID, a municipality or group of municipalities shall develop a program plan describing said TID’s purpose and goals. At a minimum, the program plan shall include:
(1) a financial plan that describes the costs and sources of revenue required to establish transit improvement programs within a TID, including cost estimates for the transit improvement programs, the amount of indebtedness, if any, to be incurred, and any sources of anticipated capital; provided, that the financial plan’s cost estimates may include any of the following types of costs: (i) administrative costs, including any reasonable charges for the time spent by town employees in connection with the implementation of a transit improvement program; (ii) capital costs, including the costs of the construction of public works or improvements, new buildings, structures and fixtures, the demolition, alteration, remodeling, repair or reconstruction of existing buildings, structures or fixtures, the acquisition of equipment, or the grading and clearing of land; (iii) discretionary costs, including any payments made by a municipal entity that, in its discretion, are necessary for the creation of TID or the implementation of a transit improvement program; (iv) financing costs, including all interest paid to holders of evidences of indebtedness issued to pay for transit improvement program costs and any premium paid over the principal amount of that indebtedness because of the redemption of the obligations before maturity; (v) information costs, including any costs associated with promoting and advertising any new transit improvement programs, providing public safety information, disseminating new transit schedules, or providing other forms of information necessary to the transit operations of a TID; (vi) management costs, including costs incurred by establishing and maintaining TID administrative and managerial support and other services, as necessary or appropriate, to provide transit improvement programs; or (vii) professional service costs, including any costs incurred for consultants, planning, engineering, architectural, or legal advice, or other services related to providing transit improvement programs;
(2) a list of the necessary capital and operational resources to be procured and public facilities, if any, to be constructed;
(3) identification of the use, if any, of private property for transit improvement programs;
(4) identification of the municipal department responsible for administering the transit improvement programs; provided, that for a program involving a TID consisting of more than 1 municipality, the program plan shall designate a lead municipality responsible for managing the program;
(5) a proposed management and operational plan regarding transit service within the TID, which may include transit service management by an existing regional transit authority or transportation management association;
(6) the duration of any transit improvement programs, which shall be a minimum of 3 years and shall not exceed 6 years after the transit service start date;
(7) any expected partnership entities participating in a transit improvement program;
(8) the means for setting policy and making decisions related to the transit improvement program;
(9) the target start date for the collection of funds and initiation of transit service within the TID;
(10) a careful consideration of how the TID can fill transportation gaps not currently provided by local, regional, or state transit services; and
(11) a proposal for greater communication and collaboration between any municipalities involved in establishing the TID, any regional transit authorities and transportation management associations with relevant jurisdiction, the surrounding business community and housing providers, and the Massachusetts department of transportation.
A municipality or group of municipalities that have developed a program plan shall hold a public meeting to consider the merits of the program plan.
A separate program plan shall be adopted for each proposed TID. The program plan shall be adopted at the same time as the TID, as part of the TID adoption proceedings pursuant to subsection (b) of this section or, if at a different time, in the same manner as the adoption of the TID, with the same requirements of subsection (b). Once adopted, a program plan shall only be substantially altered or amended after meeting the same requirements for adoption.
(b) A municipality or group of municipalities may, after the development of a program plan and a public meeting on the merits of said plan pursuant to subsection (a), establish a TID, as defined in section 1, within the boundaries of said municipality or municipalities by:
(1) a majority vote of the appropriate municipal legislative body of each participating municipality; provided, that the municipal legislative body of each participating municipality finds that the establishment of the TID is consistent with the program plan developed by the participating municipality or municipalities and that the TID shall further the public purpose of developing transit alternatives within the commonwealth; and
(2) a vote of the property owners within said TID, where a minimum of 51 per cent of property owners shall be required to vote in the affirmative and said voters casting ballots in the affirmative shall constitute at least 51 per cent of the total value of land in said TID; provided, that ballots for such vote shall be sent by certified mail to each property owner in accordance with the mailing address officially on file with the municipal assessor.
The boundaries of a TID may only be altered after meeting the requirements for establishment of a TID under this section.
Nothing in this section shall prevent a TID from including 1 or more municipalities; provided, however, that each participating municipality shall vote affirmatively for the establishment of said TID pursuant to the requirements under paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection. If any of the municipalities considering establishment of a TID fail to meet the requirements under paragraphs (1) and (2) of this subsection, a TID shall not be established.
(c) Any vote by a municipal legislative body under paragraph (1) of subsection (b) of this section shall include:
(1) a declaration that management authority over a TID rest with the municipal executive body or, where a group of municipalities are establishing a TID, the municipal executive body of the lead municipality;
(2) a designation of the municipal department under whose authority funds may be expended under section 5; provided, that said designation shall reference the applicable program plan and require that all funds be spent in a manner consistent with said plan;
(3) a statement describing the methodology used for the calculation of any proposed transit improvement fees pursuant to section 5;
(4) a designation of the source of the municipal matching funds and an authorization for the appropriation of said funds; and
(5) a designation, if the transit improvement program is in a TID involving more than 1 municipality, of which municipality shall be the lead municipality for the purposes of managing said transit improvement program.
Section 3. At any time after the establishment of a TID pursuant to section 2, the district boundaries may be amended by an affirmative vote of the municipal legislative body of each participating municipality.
Section 4. The rights and powers of a TID shall include: developing, managing, and maintaining transit improvement programs; establishing and collecting fees pursuant to section 5; leasing, owning, acquiring, or optioning real property; providing planning and design services; formulating a fee structure; accumulating interest; incurring costs or indebtedness; entering into contracts; suing and being sued; employing legal and accounting services; undertaking planning, feasibility and market analyses; developing common marketing and promotional activities; or engaging in other supplemental services or programs that would further the purposes of this chapter.
Section 5. (a) A transit improvement fee may be collected and used solely to fund items to further the goals identified and approved in a TID program plan and spent in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
A transit improvement fee shall be determined by a formula consisting of any combination of the following:
(1) different fee levels for varying classifications of real property;
(2) a fee based on a percentage of the assessed valuation provided that the fee cannot exceed 5 per cent of the existing annual tax assessment;
(3) a fee per employee;
(4) a fee per parking space on the site;
(5) a fee per single occupancy vehicle (SOV) trip generated to the site under its current or anticipated use;
(6) a fee per residential unit within a multifamily parcel;
(7) a fee for service as may be designed to accommodate a specific user or entity; or
(8) any other formula that meets the objectives of the TID.
(b) A TID may, in the establishment of a fee structure, elect to exempt any or all of the following property types:
(1) residential dwellings, whether or not they are owner occupied, provided they do not exceed 3 residential units in the same structure;
(2) small commercial properties of up to 5,000 gross square feet per building; or
(3) agricultural properties.
(c) The collector-treasurer of the municipality where a TID is located, or of the lead municipality where a TID is located in multiple municipalities, is hereby authorized to collect transit improvement fees and disburse the funds to the duly authorized and designated municipal department identified under subsection (c) of section 2.
The collector-treasurer shall disburse revenues to the designated municipal department within 30 days of the collection of transit improvement fees, together with the interest earned on the holding of such fees.
(d) Following establishment of a TID, all fees billed by or on behalf of a TID and unpaid after 60 days from the date of billing shall become a lien on the property, which shall have priority over all other liens except municipal liens and mortgages of record prior to the recording of a notice of lien, if notice of the lien is duly recorded by the municipality in the appropriate registry of deeds or land court registry district.
(e) An annual audit, certified by a certified public accountant, of the revenues generated, grants, donations, and gifts received by a TID and its expenses shall be made within 120 days of the close of the fiscal year, and shall be placed on file with the collector-treasurer.
(f) Transit improvement fees collected by a municipality under this chapter shall not be deemed to be part of the municipality’s regular levy collections and shall not be subject to the requirements of section 21C of chapter 59.
Section 6. The municipality or group of municipalities participating in the establishment of a TID shall provide a minimum of 20 per cent of the TID’s program costs from funds not generated by the fees authorized under section 5. The Massachusetts department of transportation shall provide a minimum of 20 per cent in matching funds. Users of the new transit improvement program shall be required to pay a fee for service, which shall, in the aggregate, be no more than 5 per cent of the total program costs. Property owners located within a TID shall provide a minimum of 20 per cent of the transit improvement program costs.
Section 7. The municipal executive body authorized to manage a TID under paragraph (1) of subsection (c) of section 2 shall conduct a review of the program plan 12 months prior to the completion of the duration of the transit improvement programs within a TID to determine if the program is desired to be continued, and if so, complete a program assessment that includes a review of the anticipated costs to continue said service. If continuance is sought, a public hearing shall be conducted on the TID’s desire to continue service and a renewal of the authorization shall be approved by the relevant municipal legislative body or bodies in a manner consistent with the authorization set forth in section 2.
Section 8. A TID may be dissolved by petition to the local municipal legislative body and a subsequent decision by such legislative body to authorize dissolution, or a TID may be dissolved upon request by the chief elected or chief executive official of the lead municipality for a dissolution vote by the local municipal legislative body.
In order to be considered by a municipal legislative body, a petition to dissolve a TID shall contain the signatures of the property owners whose properties represent at least 51 per cent of the assessed valuation within the TID or at least 51 per cent of the property owners within the TID.
The municipal legislative body shall hold a public hearing within 30 days of receipt of a completed dissolution petition.
Following the public hearing, the municipal legislative body may declare the TID dissolved; provided, however, that no TID shall be dissolved until it has satisfied or paid in full all of its outstanding indebtedness, obligations, and liabilities, or until funds are on deposit and available therefor, or until a repayment schedule has been formulated and municipally approved therefor. The TID shall be prohibited from incurring any new or increased financial obligations after its dissolution.
Upon the dissolution of a TID, any remaining revenues derived from the sale of assets acquired with fees collected shall be refunded to the property owners in the TID in which fees were charged by applying the same formula used to calculate the fee in the fiscal year in which the TID is dissolved.
In the event a municipality participating in a TID containing more than 1 municipality desires to withdraw from the TID, such municipality may, by petition containing the signatures of the owners whose properties represent at least 51 per cent of the assessed valuation within the TID or at least 51 per cent of the property owners within the district, seek a dissolution vote from its municipal legislative body. Upon such approval from a municipal legislative body, the withdrawing municipality shall then receive an affirmative vote of the lead municipality’s legislative body, in order to effectuate the withdrawal.
SECTION 2. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, upon passage of this act, the Massachusetts department of transportation shall identify and set aside funding to be used to meet its responsibilities under section 8 of chapter 40X, and shall establish a trust fund to assist any municipality or group of municipalities in establishing a transit improvement district, as defined in section 1 of chapter 40X; provided, that at least 30 per cent of the funds disbursed from said trust fund shall be used to assist municipalities whose average household income is below the state average household income.
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