SECTION 1. To provide for the expenses necessitated by the dissolution of the Hampshire council of governments and to provide for payment of outstanding liabilities owed by the council and for certain unanticipated obligations of the commonwealth, and to meet certain requirements of law, the sums set forth herein shall be appropriated from the general fund, and shall be for the several purposes and subject to the conditions specified herein and subject to the provisions of law regulating the disbursement of public funds, and the conditions pertaining to appropriations in the general appropriation act or other appropriations acts for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. The sums so appropriated shall be in addition to any amounts available for said purposes.
xxxx-xxxx For a reserve to fund expenses related to the dissolution of the Hampshire council of governments; provided that up to $5,900,000 of this amount may be transferred to the Hampshire regional retirement system to satisfy the Hampshire council of governments retiree pension liability; provided further that funds may be transferred to the Hampshire county group insurance trust to ensure continued health care coverage for retirees whose employer contribution had previously been made by the Hampshire council of governments; provided further that funds may be transferred to the group insurance commission for the provision of health care benefits retirees whose employer contribution had previously been made by the Hampshire council of governments; and provided further that funds may be expended by the executive office for other costs associated with the dissolution of the of the Hampshire council of governments and the disposition of its assets ……………. $ 6,500,000
SECTION 2. (a) Notwithstanding subsection (b) of section 20 of chapter 34B of the General Laws and chapter 48 of the acts of 1997, the Hampshire council of governments is hereby dissolved. All valid leases and contracts of the council that are in force on the effective date of this act shall be obligations of the commonwealth and the commonwealth may exercise all rights and enjoy all interests conferred upon the council by those leases and contracts except as otherwise provided in this act. All cities and towns in Hampshire county are hereby indemnified from any liability or cost in relation to their participation in the council and shall be held harmless from any suit, settlement, judgement or demand for payment in relation to the council.
(b)(1) The liabilities of the Hampshire council of governments shall be transferred or assumed pursuant to this subsection.
(2) The pension liability of the council, derived from the council’s share of the Hampshire county retirement system’s unfunded liability, shall be an obligation of the Hampshire regional retirement system.
(3) The group insurance commission shall provide uninterrupted health benefits coverage for any employee and retired employee of the council receiving health benefits through the council as of the effective date of this act, and any former employee of the council who has been guaranteed health benefits upon retirement. The transfer of responsibility for these benefits shall be implemented consistent with the provisions of section 18 of chapter 48 of the acts of 1997 to the extent not inconsistent with this act.
(4) Notwithstanding section 65 of chapter 152 of the General Laws or any other special or general law to the contrary, the liability of the council for a workers’ compensation claim of a former employee of the Hampshire Care Nursing Home shall be an obligation of the Workers Compensation Trust Fund under said section 65 of said chapter 152. The council may settle, annuitize or take other action with regard to the claim prior to its assumption by the fund, with the agreement of the secretary of administration and finance.
(5) All other valid liabilities of the council shall be obligations of the commonwealth and all other titles, rights and interests in real or personal property of the council shall be transferred to the commonwealth, except as otherwise provided in this act.
(c) Notwithstanding subsection (c) of section 6 of chapter 34B of the General Laws, the council shall convey the historic courthouse at 99 Main street in the city of Northampton, which was granted to the county of Hampshire by a deed recorded in the Hampshire registry of deeds in book 341, page 361 and retained by the Hampshire council of governments under said subsection (c) of said section 6 of said chapter 34B, the land on which it is situated as currently platted, and the fixtures and improvements located there, to the division of capital asset management and maintenance. The deed conveying the property to the commonwealth and all subsequent conveyances of the property shall provide that the courthouse grounds shall remain open to the public and that historic items located in the courthouse shall remain in the Northampton region and available to the public. The property so transferred shall be controlled by the commissioner of the division on behalf of the commonwealth and shall be disposed of by sale or rental pursuant to sections 33 to 35, inclusive, of chapter 7C of the General Laws; provided, however, that before any such disposition the division shall offer the property to the City of Northampton for nominal consideration.
(d) The cellular radio communications tower and associated equipment owned by the council in the town of Goshen shall be conveyed to the division of capital asset management and maintenance for use by the department of state police.
(e)(1) The rights, title and interest in real property that were held by counties for county road purposes and that were transferred to the council under subsection (d) of section 6 of chapter 34B of the General Laws shall be transferred to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
(2) Records of county roads held by the council under subsection (f) of section 6 of said chapter 34B shall be transferred to the Hampshire district registry of deeds.
(3) All powers and duties held by the council relative to the operation and maintenance of county roads under of subsection (b) of section 20 of chapter 34B of the General Laws shall be transferred to the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.
(f) The authority of the council to appoint members of the Hampshire County Regional Housing Authority established in section 1 of chapter 419 of the acts of 1976 shall be transferred to the select board of the town where the Hampshire County Regional Housing Authority is headquartered. In making appointments, the select board shall consult with local governments of the cities and towns in Hampshire county and others in the county concerned with affordable housing.
SECTION 3. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the Hampshire County Group Insurance Trust, upon a vote of the district board, may accept the applicable provisions of chapter 32 of the General Laws and thereby cause all eligible employees of the district to become members of the Hampshire regional retirement system, effective July 1, 2019.
SECTION 4. Section 2 shall take effect on August 31, 2019.
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