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The 190th General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 16: Powers and duties of counties

Section 16. (A.) Any county that has adopted a charter pursuant to this chapter may, in accordance with the provisions of such charter, and subject to the provisions of general law and the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts:

(i) Organize and regulate its internal affairs; create, alter, abolish offices, positions and employments and define functions, powers and duties thereof; establish qualifications for persons holding offices, positions and employments; and provide for the manner of their appointment and removal and for their term, tenure and compensation.

(ii) Adopt, amend, enforce, and repeal ordinances and resolutions notwithstanding the effect of any referendum conducted prior to the county's adoption of its charter pursuant to this chapter.

(iii) Construct, acquire, operate and maintain public improvements, projects or other enterprises for any public purposes, subject to such referendum as may otherwise be imposed by law.

(iv) Exercise powers of eminent domain, borrowing and taxation only as provided by general law;

(v) Exercise all powers of county government in such manner as its board of commissioners and advisory board on county expenditures may determine.

(vi) Sue and be sued, have a corporate seal; contract and be contracted with, buy, sell, lease, hold and dispose of real and personal property; appropriate and expend monies for county purposes;

(vii) Contract with or sign agreements with other governmental units for the provision of joint, coordinated, or cooperative service provision.

(B.) Nothing in this chapter shall be construed to impair or diminish or infringe on the powers and duties of cities and towns under the General Laws. It is the intent of this chapter only to permit cities and towns to employ services and facilities of the county for more effective, efficient and adequate provision of services if and when cities and towns may deem it desirable to do so. Cities and towns are and shall remain the broad repository of local police power in terms of the right and power to legislate for the general health, safety, and welfare of their residents.

(C.) The grant of powers under this act is intended to be as broad as consistent with the construction of the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the General Laws relating to local government. The grant of powers shall be construed as liberally as possible in regard to the county's right to reorganize its own form of government, to reorganize its structure and to alter and abolish its agencies, subject to the general mandate of performing services whether they be performed by the agency previously established or by a new agency or other department of county government. Based on the need to develop effective services to meet problems which cross city or town boundaries and which cannot be met effectively on an individual basis by the cities and towns, or the state, this chapter shall be construed as intending to give the county power to establish innovative programs and to perform such regional services as the Constitution of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and the General Laws permit and to establish such other programs and services as may from time to time be permitted.