HOUSE DOCKET, NO. 3348 FILED ON: 1/14/2009
HOUSE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . No. 3702
[LOCAL APPROVAL RECEIVED.]
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Denis E. Guyer
To the Honorable Senate and
House of Representatives of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in General
The undersigned legislators and/or citizens respectfully petition for the passage of the accompanying bill:
An Act to Establish the Sherwood Forest Lake District.
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts
In the Year Two Thousand and Nine
An Act to Establish the
enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:
SECTION 1. There is hereby established within the town of Becket the Sherwood Forest Lake District, hereinafter referred to as district, bounded and described as follows:
The land situated on the southerly side of Route 20, a state highway in said town of Becket as described and shown on the following plans, each of which is on record in the Berkshire Middle District Registry of Deeds:
(1) Plan 1, Unit 1, showing blocks 2 through 11 in the Sherwood, Forest development, owned by Sherwood Forest Enterprises, Inc., dated August 1963, recorded in Book 417-F, Page 7, as corrected by plan dated August 1963, recorded in Book 417-F, Page 8-A.
(2) Special plan showing block LV-2 in the Sherwood Forest development, owned by Sherwood Forest Enterprises, Inc., dated August 1963, recorded in Book 417-F, Page 8.
(3) Plan 2 of Unit 1, showing blocks 16 through 19, 24 through 26, RL-3, NB-1, P- l, RL -l, LV-l, and LV-2 in the Sherwood Forest development owned by Sherwood Forest Enterprises, Inc., dated August 1963, recorded in Book 417-F,Page 7-A.
(4) A portion of Sherwood Forest, a subdivision in Becket, Massachusetts, dated January 17, 1966, re corded in Book 417-F, Page 9.
(5) A portion of Sherwood Forest, a subdivision in Becket, Massachusetts, dated January 18, 1966, recorded in Book 417-F, Page 9-A.
(6) A portion of Sherwood Forest, a subdivision in Becket, Massachusetts, dated January 19, 1966, recorded in Book 417-F, Page 10.
(7) A portion of Sherwood Forest, a subdivision in Becket, Massachusetts, dated January20, 1966, recorded in Book 417-F, Page l0-A.
(8) A portion of Sherwood Forest, a subdivision in Becket, Massachusetts, dated May 14, 1968, recorded in Book 417-F, Page 104.
(9) A portion of Sherwood Forest, a subdivision in Becket, Massachusetts , dated August 13, 1969 , recorded in Book 417-F, Page 1 40.
(10) A portion of Sherwood Forest, a subdivision in Becket, Massachusetts , dated August 14, 1969 , recorded in Book 417-F, Page 141.
(11) A portion of Sherwood Forest, a subdivision in Becket, Massachusetts , dated August 15, 1969 , recorded in Book 417 -F, Page 142.
(12) A portion of Sherwood Forest, a subdivision in Becket, Massachusetts, dated September 9, 1969, recorded in Book 417-F, Page 143.
(13) A portion of Sherwood Forest, a subdivision in Becket, Massachusetts, dated September 11, 1969, record ed in Book 417-F, Page 144.
(14) Lot 31, Block P-l, Sherwood Forest, a subdivision in Becket, Massachusetts , dated May 23, 1967 , and recorded in Book 417-D, Page 151.
SECTION 2: Membership in the district shall consist of the proprietors, from time to ti me, of one or more separately assessed parcels of lands lying within the district boundaries as set forth in Section 1. For the purposes of this act, "proprietor" shall be deemed to include not only natural persons, but also other entities empowered to ow n real estate in the commonwealth, including but not limited to corporations, partnerships, realty trusts and federal, state and local governmental units. "Proprietor" shall also include a mortgagee of record in possession of any one or more separately as sessed parcels and persons or entities who jointly own one or more separately assessed parcels. Persons and/or entities that jointly own one or more separately assessed parcels within the district shall collectively constitute a proprietor for all purpose s hereunder.
SECTION 3. The district, upon establishment in the manner hereafter set forth, shall have the following powers:
A . To repair, reconstruct, replace and maintain lakes, dams, spillways, drains and beaches on the Five Lakes within Sherwood F orest , which are Robinhood Lake, Little Robinhood , Lanc elot , Nottingham and Excalibur ; a lso to monitor, test and treat the water in the lakes and to take such action as may be necessary for the control of all nuisance flora and fauna.
B. To adopt an an nual budget and to raise and appropriate money by assessment in an amount necessary to carry out the purposes for which this district is formed.
C. To sue and be sued in its own name, and to plead and be impleaded ; provided, however, that neither the dist rict nor any officer or employee thereof shall be liable in tort except pursuant to the provisions of chapter two hundred and fifty-eight of the General Laws; and provided further, that the district may indemnify its officers and employees to the extent pr ovided in said chapter two hundred and fifty-eight.
D. To adopt by-laws for the regulation of its affairs in the conduct of its business, which by-laws shall be consistent with the powers conferred by this act and with other applicable provisions of the General Laws.
E. To accept, whether by gift, transfer, or purchase, the ownership of real property and interests in real property within the district, including, but not limited to, the ownership of lakes, beaches and common area property and to sell, tra nsfer, mortgage and take such other action with regard to real property as consistent with the powers conferred in this act.
F. To procure liability insurance on all property and property interests owned by the district, including but not limited to beach es and dams and to procure such other insurance against any loss in connection with carrying out the purposes of this act in such amount and from such insurers as it deems desirable.
G. To make and enter into all contracts and agreements necessary or inci dental to the accomplishments of its purposes, subject to appropriation by the district, including, but not limited to, contracts for legal and engineering services.
H. To employ such experts as may be deemed necessary in its judgment and to fix their com pensation.
I. To receive and accept from any federal agency, the commonwealth, the municipality, or from a charitable foundation, a private corporation or an individual, grants, gifts, loans, and advances for or in aid of the purposes of this district, in cluding, but not limited to revenue sharing funds and community development block grant funds.
J. From time to time, to borrow money in order to carry out the purposes of this act to the extent permitted for districts under the provisions of chapter forty -four of the General Laws.
K. To invest any funds not required for the immediate use of the district in such manner and to the extent permitted under the General Laws for the investment of such funds by the treasurer of a town.
L. To enter upon the stree ts and ways within said district in order to carry out the purposes of this act.
M. To manage, purchase, lease, control and supervise equipment, materials, services and facilities necessary or appropriate in the accomplishment of the purposes of this act including, but not limited to, weed harvesting equipment, dredging apparatus, lake draw-down facilities for either temporary or permanent water level control and recreational swimming and boating facilities;
N. To initiate and coordinate research and surve ys for the purpose of gathering data, and to plan and implement projects on the lake, related shore lands, watershed and the drainage basins relating to the reclamation, enhancement, preservation and maintenance of the lakes and the water quality in the la kes;
O . To reimburse proprietors for the costs of establishing the district and for costs of preliminary investigations and other activities of the district incurred within one year of the formation of the district, including, but not limited to costs for legal services, water testing, surveying, engineering costs, expenses for notification of proprietors, and similar expenses.
P. To do all acts necessary or convenient to carry out the powers expressly or by necessary implication conferred upon the district by this act and which are not otherwise prohibited under any provis i on of the G eneral L aws .
SECTION 4. Within 180 days of the effective date of this act, the selectmen of the town of Becket shall call the initial meeting of the proprietors of the district. The board of assessors shall furnish the selectmen with its then current listing of all proprietors wi thin the district. Upon receiving such list, the selectmen shall prepare and mail, postage prepaid, a notice to each proprietor, signed by the selectmen, and setting forth a time and place of a meeting to occur within said 180 day period but not less than 14 days from the date of mailing of said notice. The notice shall be in the form of a warrant specifying the matters upon which action is to be taken at the meeting and shall further clearly state that the purpose of the meeting is to consider the organiz ation of the district. The selectmen shall, not later than 14 days prior to the date of such meeting, cause a copy of the notice to be posted in one or more public access locations within the town. At the initial meeting of the district, a selectman shall preside and shall call the meeting to order. The selectman shall determine whether or not proprietors constituting a quorum are present or represented by proxy. A quorum for purposes of the initial meeting shall be a majority of the proprietors. The prop rietors may be present or represented by proxy. Lacking such a quorum, the meeting shall have no power to act, but the selectmen may in the manner above provided call additional meetings for the same purpose within such 180 day period.
SECTION 5. Provid ed that the number of proprietors, present or represented by proxy, constitute a quorum, the initial meeting of the district shall then proceed to the following order of business :
A. Election of a moderator who shall be chosen by ballot.
B. Certification by the moderator to the district meeting that a quorum is in attendance, such initial quorum to consist of not less than thirty proprietors of the district and who have been certified to by the assessor of the town of Becket as being the current landowners for property located in the district; provided, however, that no person who has submitted an application for exclusion from the district pursuant to Section 21 shall be eligible to vote.
C. The taking of a vote to determine whether or not the district es tablished by this act shall be organized, which shall require an affirmative vote of two-thirds of the persons in attendance and authorized to vote; provided, however, that no person who has submitted an application for exclusion from the district pursuant to Section 21 shall be eligible to vote. If such vote shall be in the negative, the meeting shall thereupon terminate and adjourn. If such vote shall be in the affirmative, the meeting shall then proceed to consider the order of business set forth in cl auses D to G, inclusive.
D. The adoption of district by-laws and form of district seal .
E. The election of a clerk, treasurer, and the members of the Lake District Prudential Committee (“Committee”). The clerk and the treasurer shall be proprietors of the district entitled to vote at district meetings. If the district shall so elect, one person may serve as both clerk and treasurer. If the district, or the proprietors at subsequent meetings, considers it advisable, they shall also elect an assistant treasurer, who may also serve as clerk. The Committee shall consist of seven persons who are proprietors of the district. In addition to the seven regular members of the Committee, there shall be one alte rnate Committee member, who shall vote in place of a member who is absent or in the event of a conflict. The Committee members and alternate shall be chosen by election by the proprietors entitled to vote at district meetings. The clerk, treasurer and Com mittee members shall serve from the date of the initial meeting and until the date of election and qualification of their successors at or following the first annual meeting of the district, and thereafter as provided from time to time in the district by-l aws; provided, however, that such interval between election of said officers and Committee members shall not be greater than two years. T he clerk, assistant treasurer and the treasurer may not be members of the Committee.
F. The adoption of an initial bud get for the remainder of the fiscal year and the appropriation of monies to be raised by taxation in support thereof.
G. The consideration of such other business as shall be consistent with the power and authority conferred by this act.
H. The clerk sha ll prepare a certificate of the vote taken to organize the district and shall affix the form of seal thereto as adopted by the initial district meeting and shall obtain the endorsement of the selectman initially presiding at the meeting thereon. Such certi ficate shall be forwarded to the attorney general of the commonwealth within 30 days following the adjournment of the meeting.
SECTION 6. Immediately upon its election at the initial meeting of the district, and thereafter immediately following each ann ual meeting of the district, the Committee shall meet and shall take the following actions:
A. The election of a chairman who shall preside at all meetings of the Committee. The chairman shall appoint a vice chairman who shall preside at meetings of the C ommittee in the absence of the chairman or in the event of his inability to act or because of a conflict of interest.
B. The adoption of rules for the general conduct of its business.
C. To conduct such other business as shall be authorized by this act o r by the by-laws of the district adopted pursuant hereto. Upon completion of the first meeting of the district in the aforesaid manner, written notice of the establishment thereof shall be sent by the clerk to the commissioner of revenue .
A. ANNUAL MEETINGS; WARRANTS . Annual meetings of the district shall be held on the second Saturday in July or at such other time that the district shall establish from time to time in its by-laws. Annual and other special meetings of the district shall be called by a warrant of the Lake District Prudential committee, notice of which shall be given at least 14 days before such meeting. The warrant shall be mailed first class, postage prepaid, to each proprietor of record in the district and a copy of the sam e shall be directed to a constable of the town or to some other person who shall forthwith give notice of such meeting in the manner prescribed by the by-laws, or, if no provision therefor shall exist in said by-laws, by a vote of the district, or by posti ng in two or more public places within said district or by advertising in a newspaper published in the town in which the district is located, if any, otherwise in a newspaper published in the county. The warrant for all district meetings shall state the t ime and place of holding the meeting and the subjects to be acted upon thereat. The Committee shall insert in the warrant for the annual meeting all subjects the insertion of which shall be requested of them in writing by ten or more proprietors of the di strict and the warrant for every special district meeting all subjects the insertion of which shall be requested of them in writing by twenty proprietors or by ten per cent of the total number of proprietors within said district, whichever is less. The Com mittee shall call a special district meeting at its own request or upon the request in writing of ten proprietors or twenty per cent of the total number of proprietors within the district, whichever is less, such meeting to be held not later than thirty da ys after the receipt of such request, and shall insert in the warrant therefor all subjects the insertion of which shall be requested by said petition. No action shall be valid unless the subject matter thereof is contained in the warrant. Two or more dis trict meetings for distinct purposes may be called by the same warrant. At every district meeting a moderator shall be chosen by ballot, and shall have the powers of the moderator of a town meeting.
B. VOTING BY THE PROPRIETORS. At the initial district m eeting and at all subsequent annual and special district meetings, voting by proprietors shall be governed by the requirements of this section. Persons or entities owning one or more separately assessed parcels of land within the district shall be entitle d to cast one vote for each seperately assessed property on any matter or issue to be voted upon at any such meeting, notwithstanding the total number of parcels owned by such person, persons or entities. Joint owners and entity proprietors shall designate, in writing to the clerk prior to the commencement of the meeting, one person who authorized to vote on behalf of the proprietor at such meeting and such person shall be presumed qualified and authorized to represent the proprietor if such person shall be listed record owner of such parcel or parcels or if such person shall, as evidenced by any public record maintained under the laws of the commonwealth, be listed as a partner, trustee, agent, officer or employee of a proprietor. A person owning one or more parcels together with his spouse shall not be required to furnish a written designation from his spouse and either shall be presumed to be qualified to vote but only one vote for each property owned may be made. Th e authority of a person to cast a proxy vote on behalf of a proprietor shall be determined by the district by-laws . All proxies must be tendered in writing prior to the commencement of a district meeting and shall clearly set forth the name and address of the proprietor entering the proxy, the name and address of the person who is to exercise the proxy, the signature of the proprietor granting the same and the date of execution. The district may, if it so elects, adopt in its bylaws requirements regarding the form of proxy , the duration of a proxy, and other requirements for the form of voting.
SECTION 8. District meetings and meetings of the Committee shall be governed by chapter thirty-nine of the General Laws except as otherwise provided in this act and the bylaws adopted hereunder.
SECTION 9. The board of assessors of the town of Becket shall, at least thirty days prior to the annual district meeting, prepare and forward to the Committee a true and complete alphabetical listing with addresses of the proprietors reflected in their records excluding the proprietors who have been granted exclusion from the district as of January first of that year and from the records maintained by the assessors pursuant to chapter fifty-nine and other related provis ions of the General Laws. A copy of such list shall be maintained in a manner accessible to the proprietors and the general public at all reasonable times by the Committee and the district clerk and shall be available for inspection at the annual meeting a nd any special meeting of the district. The board of assessors shall likewise maintain a list of proprietors within their town by separate list or special designation on their list of all assessed parcels.
SECTION 10. The district may, at meetings called therefor , raise money by assessment for the purposes set forth in this act but for none other.
SECTION 11. T he fiscal year of the district shall be the same fiscal year as established by the G eneral L a ws for cities a nd towns in the C ommonwealth .
SECTION 12. Unless otherwise specified in this act, or the bylaws of the district, or otherwise required by General Law, all actions permitted to be taken at annual or special meetings of the district shall require a majorit y vote of those persons present at said meeting and entitled to vote thereat, who shall constitute a quorum.
SECTION 13. At the first annual meeting of the district and at each annual meeting thereafter, the district shall elect in the manner provided f or in its by-laws the members of its Committee constituted as aforesaid and also a clerk and treasurer of the district. Upon their election, the Committee, clerk and treasurer shall serve for the terms set forth in the by-laws and until their successors s hall have been elected at the next annual meeting of the district called for that purpose. Vacancies in the Committee due to resignation or other cause shall be filled at a special district meeting called for that purpose by the remaining members of the C ommittee, which meeting shall occur within thirty days from the date of such vacancy . In the event that no member of the Committee shall remain in office due to resignation or otherwise, the selectmen of the town of Becket are empowered to issue a warrant for a special meeting of the district to occur within said thirty day period and shall, in the interim, exercise the powers and duties of the Committee until the successors shall be elected at such special meeting.
SECTION 14. The Committee shall be responsible for the expenditure and shall expend, for the purposes prescribed by the district, the money so raised and borrowed by the district, and shall annually prepare a budget with advice from the Treasurer and in his absence, the Assistant Treasure r and shall submit such budget to the annual district meeting for its approval. Upon approval of the budget by the district which shall be deemed to constitute an appropriation for the expenses enumerated therein, the clerk of the d istrict shall certify to the assessors of the town all the votes of the district relative thereto and all sums of money voted to be raised which shall be assessed and collected in the same manner as town taxes, and shall be paid over to the district treasu rer. The assessors, treasurer, and collector of the town of Becket shall have the same powers and duties relative to the assessment, collection and abatement or granting of exemptions relative to money voted by the district as they have and exercise relat ive to the assessment, col1ection, and abatement, and granting of exemptions relative to town taxes and the sum so voted shall be assessed upon the assessed value of the Land and buildings situated within the district or personal property situated thereon. The district shall include in its initial and in all subsequent annual appropriations, compensation for the town assessors and tax collector, pursuant to the provisions of section one hundred and eight B of chapter forty-one of the General Laws, with resp ect to their duties and expenses hereunder.
SECTION 15. The district treasurer shall, in addition to any other powers and duties specified elsewhere in this act, receive and take charge of all money belonging to the district, and pay over an account for the same according to the order of the district or of its Committee. The assistant treasurer and the treasurer shall be the only persons authorized to pay any district bill; provided, however, that this provision shall not prohibit the treasurer or assi stant treasurer from paying such bill by the use of bank treasurer's or cashier's check. He shall further have the authority given to an auditor by section fifty-one of chapter forty-one of the General Laws, and shall annually render a true account of his receipts and disbursements and a report of his official acts to the district. The treasurer and assistant treasurer if there is one elected, shall give bond annually for the performance of his duties in a form approved by the commissioner of revenue and in such sum, not less than the amount established by said commissioner, as shall be fixed by the Committee (with the costs of such bond to be paid by the district), and if either fails to give such bond within ten days after his election or appointment, or within ten days after the expiration of said bond or any renewal of said bond, either one fails to file a renewal thereof, the Committee shall declare that office vacant and the vacancy shall be filled by the Committee in the manner provided for the appo intment of temporary town officers under section forty of chapter forty-one of the General Laws. Vacancies occurring in the office of treasurer or assistant treasurer for any other reason shall be filled by the Committee in a like manner.
SECTION 16. Un less otherwise provided by district by-law, the clerk shall, in addition to the other duties specified herein, take all minutes at district meetings and maintain a record of such minutes in the manner provided for the maintenance of records of minutes of t own meetings. Vacancies occurring in the office of clerk shall be filled by the Committee by appointment in the same manner as provided for treasurer in the next preceding section.
SECTION 17. Unless otherwise provided by district by-law, the Committee shall, in addition to the other duties specified herein, decide by majority vote on all contracts, expenditures, investments, or any other actions necessary for carrying out the purposes of the district. No monies shall be drawn from the district treasur y except upon signature of the district treasurer or assistant treasurer and upon prior authorization by the Committee to the extent required by district by-law. The Committee shall meet as necessary, but in no event less frequently than quarterly in orde r to approve contracts, expenditures, and investments, or to take other actions necessary for carrying out the purposes of the district. The district treasurer shall be responsible for submitting to the Committee in a timely manner all contracts, bills, o r other items requiring Committee approval. A quorum of the Committee shall be required at all meetings for the conducting of any business and shall consist of a majority of the total number of Committee members then constituted by the district as the Com mittee.
SECTION 18. The district may, by majority vote, agree upon appropriate compensation for its officers and employees, including the Committee members, in the event that the district shall include in its budget appropriations for its employees or C ommittee members to perform duties with respect to the lakes within the district.
SECTION 19. The town of Becket shall not be obligated for any debts of the district nor shall it by virtue of this act, be required to pay for any expenses of the district; provided, however, that nothing in this act shall preclude the acceptance of the provision of any enabling legislation permitting the expenditure of monies by the town on activities under the jurisdiction of the district.
SECTION 20. If a person sustai ns bodily injury or damage to his property by reason of defect or want of repair for an activity performed by the district, claims for such injury or damage shall be governed by the applicable provisions of chapter two fifty eight of the General laws.
SEC TION 21. The Committee , at a meeting called therefor , may annex adjacent territory and its inhabitants, if in the judgment of the Committee, the property has legal access to the lakes in the district and a majority of the Committee members vote to expand the limits of the district. If a person requests to be included in the district, they shall pay a fee in an amount to be determined by the Committee based on the annual assessment for the years during which they were excluded from the district. The Commi ttee also may, on the petition of any person, exclude him or his estate from the district ; provided , however, that such exc1usion shall not be granted by the district if the estate of the petitioner is directly abutting any lake under the jurisdiction of the district and provided further that the petitioner agrees to release any easement rights to access the lakes and the beaches in the District . The petition for exclusion or exemption from taxation shall be filed with the Committee of the district not la ter than the date set for the filing of petitions for the insertion of articles in the warrant of the district meeting or at which the petition is to be acted upon, and shall state the petitioner's reason for seeking exclusion or exemption from taxation. An application for exclusion from the district may be filed with the Board of Selectmen for the Town of Becket prior to the intial meeting for the creation of the district as set forth in Section 5 and such applications shall be provided to the Committee f or vote after creation of the district. The Committee shall cause an appropriate article to be inserted in the warrant for said meeting, shall examine the reasons stated and shall report its findings, with recommendations to said meeting. N o property shal l be subject to any tax assessed on account of the activities of the district if, in the judgment of the Committee , after a hearing, due notice of which shall be given, such property is so situated that it does not benefit from the activities of said district. Any such petitioner, aggrieved by the action of the Committee , or by the action of the proprietors of the district on his petition, may appeal to the superior court sitting in equity within the county in which the district is located for a remed y. Upon such appeal, said court shall, if the reason set forth by the petitioner is found to lie within the intent of this section, grants such exclusion. The grant of exclusion shall exempt the property and estate of the petitioner from the Lake District and from any tax levied by reason of any appropriation made by the district after the filing of the petition with the Committee.
SECTION 22. By a petition in writing addressed to the Committee and signed by a majority of the proprietors of the district who are entitled to vote at the most recent district meeting prior to the filing of the petition, such petitioners may request that the district be disbanded on the basis that there is no further need for its existence. A three-quarters affirmative vote of all proprietors shall be necessary to disband the district. Notwithstanding the foregoing provision, the district may not be disbanded if at the time of such vote, there are outstanding obligations with respect to which insufficient appropriated funds or surplus funds exist in the district treasury for the purpose of satisfying such obligations. If sufficient funds shall be determined to exist at said meeting to accomplish the payment of all outstanding obligations, such action shall forthwith be taken by the Committee, or by the selectmen of the town of Becket upon the failure of the Committee to act with respect thereto. In the event there shall exist in the district treasury surplus funds remaining after the payment of all outstanding obligations as aforesaid, said funds shall be distributed by the Committee to the property owners within the district based upon the percentage that the most recent assessed valuation of the land for each said district property owner shall bear to the total or aggregate assessed valuation of the land lying within the district. No such distribution of surplus shall be made by the Committee until it shall have first published in each week for three successive weeks in a newspaper of at least weekly publication within the county of Berkshire a notice of intent to disband the district which shall afford reasonable notice to all creditors and possible claimants against the district of the intended action. Further, within ten days of an affirmative vote to disband, the distri ct clerk shall file with the Becket town clerk, with the secretary of the commonwealth and the commissioner of revenue an attested copy of said petition and a certified copy of the district vote. Upon completion of the aforesaid action and upon the expirat ion of six months from the date of said meeting and vote, the Sherwood Forest Lake District shall cease to exist.
SECTION 23. The district shall establish an overlay account and a reserve fund as contemplated for towns under the provisions of section twe nty-five of chapter fifty-nine and section five C of chapter forty of the Genera1 Laws, except that the initial fiscal year of the operation of the district, the assessors for the town of Becket, may add to the amount to be assessed, a sum voted by the dis trict, equal to not more than twenty per cent thereof for the purposes and subject to the remaining limitations set forth in said section twenty-five of chapter fifty-nine. The district is further authorized to establish and maintain a stabilization fund u nder the provisions of section five B of chapter forty of the General Laws. The district shall further be subject to an audit of its accounts in the manner provided in section forty of chapter forty-four of the General Laws.
SECTION 24. This act shall take effect upon its passage; provided, however, that if the first meeting of the district shall not be held within one year after its passage this act shall cease to be operative.