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HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 776        FILED ON: 1/14/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 2501


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



Ruth B. Balser


To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
              Court assembled:

              The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the adoption of the accompanying bill:

An Act relative to municipal infrastructure improvement.






Ruth B. Balser

12th Middlesex

Thomas Sheff


Michael O. Moore

Second Worcester

Aaron Vega

5th Hampden

Kay Khan

11th Middlesex

Cynthia S. Creem

First Middlesex and Norfolk

HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 776        FILED ON: 1/14/2013

HOUSE  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  No. 2501

By Ms. Balser of Newton, a petition (accompanied by bill, House, No. 2501) of Ruth B. Balser and others relative to raising revenues for local infrastructure improvements.  Revenue. 


The Commonwealth of Massachusetts



In the Year Two Thousand Thirteen



An Act relative to municipal infrastructure improvement.


              Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

              The General Laws are hereby amended by inserting after chapter 44B the following chapter:-

              CHAPTER 44C


              Section 1.  This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Massachusetts Infrastructure Improvement Act.

              Section 2.  As used in this chapter, the following words shall, unless the context clearly indicates a different meaning, have the following meanings:—

              “Acquire”, obtain by gift, purchase, devise, grant, rental, rental purchase, lease or otherwise. “Acquire” shall not include a taking by eminent domain, except as provided in this chapter.

              “Annual income”, a family’s or person’s gross annual income less such reasonable allowances for dependents, other than a spouse, and for medical expenses as the housing authority or, in the event that there is no housing authority, the department of housing and community development, determines.

              “Infrastructure”, the stock of fixed capital equipment in a municipality, including but not limited to schools, public buildings, roads, and sidewalks.

              “Infrastructure Improvement Fund”, the municipal fund established under Section 5.

              “Legislative body”, the agency of municipal government which is empowered to enact ordinances or by-laws, adopt an annual budget and other spending authorizations, loan order, bond authorizations and other financial matters and whether styled as a city council, board of aldermen, town council, town meeting or by any other title.

              “Property”, all city-owned buildings, streets and sidewalks.

              “Real property”, land, buildings, appurtenant structures and fixtures attached to buildings or land, including, where applicable, real property interests.

              “Real property interest”, a present or future legal or equitable interest in or to real property, including easements and restrictions, and any beneficial interest therein, including the interest of a beneficiary in a trust which holds a legal or equitable interest in real property, but shall not include an interest which is limited to the following: an estate at will or at sufferance and any estate for years having a term of less than 30 years; the reversionary right, condition or right of entry for condition broken; the interest of a mortgagee or other secured party in a mortgage or security agreement.

              Section 3. (a) Sections 3 to 5, inclusive, shall take effect in any city or town upon the approval by the legislative body and their acceptance by the voters of a ballot question as set forth in this section.

              (b) Notwithstanding chapter 59 or any other general or special law to the contrary, the legislative body may vote to accept sections 3 to 5, inclusive, by approving a surcharge on real property of not more than 3 per cent of the real estate tax levy against real property, as determined annually by the board of assessors. The amount of the surcharge shall not be included in a calculation of total taxes assessed for purposes of section 21C of said chapter 59.  The proceeds of such surcharge shall be available for expenditure from a capital improvement fund provided for in Section 5, below.

              (c) All exemptions and abatements of real property authorized by said chapter 59 or any other law for which a taxpayer qualifies as eligible shall not be affected by this chapter. A taxpayer receiving an exemption of real property authorized by said chapter 59 or any other law shall be exempt from any surcharge on real property established under this section. The surcharge to be paid by a taxpayer receiving an abatement of real property authorized by said chapter 59 or any other law shall be reduced in proportion to the amount of such abatement.

              (d) Any amount of the surcharge not paid by the due date shall bear interest at the rate per annum provided in section 57 of said chapter 59.

              (e) The legislative body may also vote to accept one or more of the following exemptions:

              (1) for real property owned and occupied as a domicile by a person who would qualify for low income housing or low or moderate income senior housing in the city or town;

              (2) for class three, commercial, and class four, industrial, properties as defined in section 2A of said chapter 59, in cities or towns with classified tax rates; or

              (3) for $100,000 of the value of each taxable parcel of residential real property.

              (f) Upon approval by the legislative body, the actions of the body shall be submitted for acceptance to the voters of a city or town at the next regular municipal or state election. The city or town clerk or the state secretary shall place it on the ballot in the form of the following question: “Shall this (city or town) accept sections 3 to 5, inclusive of chapter 44C of the General Laws, as approved by its legislative body, a summary of which appears below”

              (Set forth here a fair, concise summary and purpose of the law to be acted upon, as determined by the city solicitor or town counsel, including in said summary the percentage of the surcharge to be imposed.)

              If a majority of the voters voting on said question vote in the affirmative, then its provisions shall take effect in the city or town, but not otherwise.

              (g) The final date for notifying or filing a petition with the city or town clerk or the state secretary to place such a question on the ballot shall be 35 days before the city or town election or 60 days before the state election.

              (h) If the legislative body does not vote to accept sections 3 to 5, inclusive, at least 90 days before a regular city or town election or 120 days before a state election, then a question seeking said acceptance through approval of a particular surcharge rate with exemption or exemptions, may be so placed on the ballot when a petition signed by at least 5 per cent of the registered voters of the city or town requesting such action is filed with the registrars, who shall have seven days after receipt of such petition to certify its signatures. Upon certification of the signatures, the city or town clerk or the state secretary shall cause the question to be placed on the ballot at the next regular city or town election held more than 35 days after such certification or at the next regular state election held more than 60 days after such certification.

              (i) With respect to real property owned by a cooperative corporation, as defined in section 4 of chapter 157B, that portion which is occupied by a member under a proprietary lease as the member’s domicile shall be considered real property owned by that member for the purposes of exemptions provided under this section. The member’s portion of the real estate shall be represented by the member’s share or shares of stock in the cooperative corporation, and the percentage of that portion to the whole shall be determined by the percentage of the member’s shares to the total outstanding stock of the corporation, including shares owned by the corporation. This portion of the real property shall be eligible for any exemption provided in this section if the member meets all requirements for the exemption. Any exemption so provided shall reduce the taxable valuation of the real property owned by the cooperative corporation, and the reduction in taxes realized by this exemption shall be credited by the cooperative corporation against the amount of the taxes otherwise payable by or chargeable to the member. Nothing in this subsection shall be construed to affect the tax status of any manufactured home or mobile home under this chapter, but this subsection shall apply to the land on which the manufactured home or mobile home is located if all other requirements of this paragraph are met. This subsection shall take effect in a city or town upon its acceptance by the city or town.

              Section 4. (a) Upon acceptance of sections 3 to 5, inclusive, and upon the assessors’ warrant to the tax collector, the accepted surcharge shall be imposed.

              (b) After receipt of the warrant, the tax collector shall collect the surcharge in the amount and according to the computation specified in the warrant and shall pay the amounts so collected, quarterly or semi-annually, according to the schedule for collection of property taxes for the tax on real property, to the city’s or town’s treasurer. The tax collector shall cause appropriate books and accounts to be kept with respect to such surcharge, which shall be subject to public examination upon reasonable request from time to time.

              (c) The remedies provided by chapter 60 for the collection of taxes upon real estate shall apply to the surcharge on real property pursuant to this chapter.

              Section 5. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 53 of chapter 44 or any other general or special law to the contrary, a city or town that accepts sections 3 to 5, inclusive, shall establish a separate account to be known as the Infrastructure Improvement Fund of which the municipal treasurer shall be the custodian.  The authority to approve expenditures from the fund shall be limited to the legislative body and the municipal treasurer shall pay such expenses in accordance with chapter 41. 

              The following monies shall be deposited in the fund: (a) all funds collected from the real property surcharge or bond proceeds in anticipation of revenue pursuant to section 4; and (b) all funds received from the commonwealth or any other source for such purposes. The treasurer may deposit or invest the proceeds of the fund in savings banks, trust companies incorporated under the laws of the commonwealth, banking companies incorporated under the laws of the commonwealth which are members of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation or national banks, or may invest the proceeds in paid up shares and accounts of and in co-operative banks or in shares of savings and loan associations or in shares of federal savings and loan associations doing business in the commonwealth or in the manner authorized by section 54 of chapter 44, and any income therefrom shall be credited to the fund. The expenditure of revenues from the fund shall be limited to infrastructure improvement only, and shall not replace existing operating or capital improvement funds, only augment them.

              Section 6. (a) There shall be established and set up on the books of the commonwealth a separate fund, to be known as the Massachusetts Infrastructure Improvement Trust Fund, for the benefit of cities and towns that have accepted sections 3 to 5, inclusive, and pursuant to said sections 3 to 5, inclusive, have imposed a surcharge on their real property tax levy, subject to any exemptions adopted by a municipality. The fund shall consist of all monies credited to or transferred to from any other fund or source pursuant to law.

              (b) The state treasurer shall deposit the fund in accordance with the provisions of section 7 in such manner as will secure the highest interest rate available consistent with the safety of the fund and with the requirement that all amounts on deposit be available for withdrawal without penalty for such withdrawal at any time. All interest accrued and earnings shall be deposited into the fund. The fund shall be expended solely for the administration and implementation of this chapter. Any unexpended balances shall be redeposited for future use consistent with the provisions of this chapter.

              (c) The state treasurer shall make all disbursements and expenditures from the fund without further appropriation, as directed by the commissioner of revenue in accordance with said section 7. The department of revenue shall report by source all amounts credited to said fund and all expenditures from said fund. The commissioner of revenue shall assign personnel of the department as it may need to administer and manage the fund disbursements and any expense incurred by the department shall be deemed an operating and administrative expense of the program. The operating and administrative expenses shall not exceed 5 per cent of the annual total revenue received under the provisions of said section 7.

              Section 7. (a) The commissioner of revenue shall annually on October 15 disburse monies from the fund established in section 6 to cities and towns that have accepted sections 3 to 5, inclusive, and notified the commissioner of their acceptance. The community shall notify the commissioner of the date and terms on which the voters accepted said sections 3 to 5, inclusive. The municipal tax collecting authority shall certify to the commissioner the amount the municipality has raised through June 30 by imposing a surcharge on its real property levy and shall certify the percentage of the surcharge applied.  The commissioner shall distribute to each city and town that has accepted sections 3 to 5 inclusive a sum equal to 30 percent of the monies raised by the city or town through the surcharge on its real property levy.  After distributing the trust fund in accordance with this section, the commissioner may keep any remaining funds in the trust for distribution in the following year.

              Section 8. A city or town that accepts sections 3 to 5, inclusive, may issue, from time to time, general obligation bonds or notes in anticipation of revenues to be raised pursuant to section 3, the proceeds of which shall be deposited in the Infrastructure Improvement Fund. Bonds or notes so issued may be at such rates of interest as shall be necessary and shall be repaid as soon after such revenues are collected as is expedient. Cities or towns that choose to issue bonds pursuant to this section shall make every effort to limit the administrative costs of issuing such bonds by cooperating among each other using methods including, but not limited to, common issuance of bonds or common retention of bond counsel. Except as otherwise provided in this chapter, bonds or notes issued pursuant to this section shall be subject to the applicable provisions of chapter 44. The maturities of each issue of bonds or notes issued under this chapter may be arranged so that for each issue the amounts payable in the several years for principal and interest combined shall be as nearly equal as practicable in the opinion of the officers authorized to issue bonds or notes or, in the alternative, in accordance with a schedule providing for a more rapid amortization of principal.

              Section 9. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary, every city and town may accept sections 3 to 5, inclusive, and may thereupon receive state grants under section 7. A city or town that accepts said sections 3 to 5, inclusive, shall not be precluded from participating in state grant programs.

              State grant programs may include local adoption of this chapter among the criteria for selection of grant recipients. Funds in the Infrastructure Improvement Fund may be made available and used by the city or town as the local share for state or federal grants upon approval of the legislative body.

              Section 10. (a) At any time after imposition of the surcharge, the legislative body may approve and the voters may accept an amendment to the amount and computation of the surcharge, or to the amount of exemption or exemptions, in the same manner and within the limitations set forth in this chapter.

              (b) At any time after the expiration of five years after the date on which sections 3 to 7, inclusive, have been accepted in a city or town, said sections may be revoked in the same manner as they were accepted by such city or town, but the surcharge imposed under section 3 shall remain in effect in any such city or town, with respect to unpaid taxes on past transactions and with respect to taxes due on future transactions, until all contractual obligations incurred by the city or town prior to such termination shall have been fully discharged.

              Section 11. The commissioner of revenue shall have the authority to promulgate rules and regulations to effect the purposes of this chapter.

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