Section 19. Notwithstanding the provisions of chapter 32 or any general or special law to the contrary, the retirement system of a county abolished pursuant to this chapter, or abolished pursuant to chapter 151 of the acts of 1996, shall continue pursuant to this section and shall be managed by the retirement board as provided in this section beginning on the transfer date; provided, however, that this section shall not apply to Essex county or an entity managing the contributory retirement system formerly administered by Essex county unless explicitly noted otherwise.
(a) A contributory retirement system established for an abolished county operating under the terms of sections 1 to 28, inclusive, of said chapter 32 shall be known as a regional retirement system, and all business shall be transacted under a name designated by the retirement board bearing the title of the geographic location of said system.
(b) Said system shall be managed by a retirement board which shall have the general powers and duties set forth in subdivision (5) of section 20 of chapter 32. Said board shall consist of five members as follows:
(1) The first member, who shall serve as chairman, shall be the country treasurer as of the effective date of this chapter, and shall serve until the expiration of his term as treasurer on December 31, 2002, and the qualification of his successor first member. Thereafter, the first member shall be elected by the other four members for successive 6-year terms. If the first member is not chosen by the other four members within 30 days of the expiration of his term, or of any earlier vacancy in his office, the public employee retirement administration commission shall appoint the first member.
(2) The second member, shall be the member of the county retirement board advisory council as of the effective date of this chapter, and shall serve until the expiration of his term on January 1, 2001 and the qualification of his successor. Thereafter, the second member shall be a member of the regional retirement board advisory council, and shall be elected by a majority of those present and voting at a public meeting of said council, properly posted, called specifically for such election pursuant to paragraph (g), for successive three-year terms.
(3) A third and fourth member, hereinafter referred to as the elected members, shall in the first instance be, respectively, the currently elected member who was elected pursuant to chapter 306 of the acts of 1996, who shall be the third member, and the previously elected current member, who shall be the fourth member. The third member shall serve until the expiration of his term on January 1, 2002 and the qualification of his successor. Thereafter the third member shall be elected by the membership in accordance with paragraph (h) for successive three year terms. The fourth member shall serve until the expiration of his term on January 1, 2000 and the qualification of his successor. Thereafter the fourth member shall be elected by the membership in accordance with paragraph (h) for successive three year terms. The elected members shall be active or retired members of the regional retirement system or one whose retirement is being reimbursed by that system in accordance with the provision of paragraph (c) of subdivision (8) of section 3 of chapter 32.
(4) A fifth member, who shall not, except as provided in this subparagraph, be an employee, retiree or official of the retirement system, or of any of its constituent governmental units, shall be chosen by the other four members and serve for a term of five years; provided, however, that in the first instance, the fifth member shall be the currently serving second member, whose term of office as second member shall expire on the date of transfer. Thereafter, the fifth member shall be chosen as provided in this subparagraph. If the fifth member is not chosen provided in this subparagraph within 30 days of the expiration of his term, or of any earlier vacancy in his office, the public employee retirement administration commission shall appoint the fifth member. Any person serving as the second member of a county retirement board shall on the effective date of this chapter become the fifth member upon the expiration of his term notwithstanding that said member is an employee, retiree or official of a constituent governmental unit within the system.
(5) Upon the expiration of the term of office of any elected or appointed member, or in the event of a vacancy in either of said offices, his successor shall be elected as aforesaid for a term of three years, or for the unexpired portion thereof, as the case may be.
(c) The second, third, fourth and fifth members of a regional retirement board shall be compensated in an amount to be determined by the board but not to exceed the amounts set forth in subdivision (6) of section 20 of chapter 32. The first member, as chairman, shall be compensated in amount to be determined by the board. Responsibility for the salary of the county treasurer shall be transferred from the commonwealth to the retirement system of which he is chairman or chief executive officer, and the county treasurer’s office shall be abolished pursuant to section 2.
(d) The retirement board may employ clerical and other assistants as may be required to transact the business of the retirement system. All permanent employees employed pursuant to this paragraph shall be members of the retirement system, but shall not be eligible to be a member or candidate for election to the retirement board, however, this prohibition shall not apply to a county treasurer when employed as a chief executive officer of the regional retirement board pursuant to paragraph (b) of this section.
(e) A regional retirement board shall be authorized to purchase or lease property, facilities and equipment and employ any such personnel necessary for the proper administration and transaction of business of the retirement system.
(f) The board of any such regional retirement system and the chairman thereof shall respectively be and act as the board and treasurer-custodian of such system with respect to the employees of any town or district who become members of such system as provided for in paragraphs (b) or (c) of subdivision (3), or paragraph (b) of subdivision (4) of section 28 of chapter 32, or who have become members thereof under corresponding provisions of earlier laws. The treasurer or other disbursing officer of any such town or district, as the case may be, shall act as a liaison officer between the employees thereof and the board of such system.
(g) There shall be a regional retirement board advisory council consisting of all the treasurers, elected or appointed, of each town, unit, or district belonging to the prior county retirement system and remaining in the retirement system established by this section. The members of said advisory council shall elect a chairman from among the members. Said council shall meet at the call of the chairman, but in no event less than twice in each year. Said council shall supervise and certify the procedures involved in the election of the elected members of the retirement board, as provided in paragraphs (b) and (h). Upon certification by the retirement board and the council, the actuary shall be furnished with an estimate of the expenses and costs of administration of the system for the ensuing year. The actuary shall, on or before December 15 in each year, specify by written notice to the council and the board the amounts so required to be paid from the pension fund, the annuity reserve fund, the military service fund, and the administration fund, as provided in subdivision (7) of section 22 of chapter 32. For fiscal years 1998, 1999 and 2000, the actuary shall recalculate the expenses of the system to reflect the provisions of section 18 and shall recalculate the amounts to be allocated to each governmental unit. Any governmental unit that has paid assessments in such fiscal years that are greater than the recalculated assessments, shall receive credit against future payments. The credit shall be distributed over the same number of fiscal years that overpayments were made by such unit. The actuary shall also advise and determine the amounts to be allocated to each governmental unit for such amounts. The regional retirement board advisory council, at a meeting called specifically for that purpose, shall elect one of its members as a member of the regional retirement board at the expiration of the current appointed member’s term, as provided in paragraph (e).
(h) The regional retirement board advisory council, which shall serve as the election board, shall supervise the election of the elected members of the retirement board. The council shall make available nomination papers to any member in or retired from service so requesting and shall require that such nomination papers be signed by the candidate and be returned to the office of the retirement board for safekeeping until the election board shall meet. The chairman of the council shall give a duplicate receipt for such nomination papers to each candidate. Completed nomination papers shall contain the signatures and addresses of at least five active or retired members of said retirement system. The election board shall determine whether each candidate has filed nomination papers containing the requisite signatures and addresses. If, after investigation, the election board determines that a candidate has filed nomination papers containing less than five signatures as required, the election board shall declare said nomination papers invalid and shall notify the candidate of such determination. If, after investigation, the election board determines that only one candidate has filed the requisite number of signatures, the election board shall declare said candidate to be the elected member of the county retirement board. If, after investigation, the election board determines that more than one candidate has obtained the requisite number of valid signatures, the election board shall notify said candidates of such determination and shall immediately prepare election ballots, and set the date for an election to be held within 40 days.
The election board shall mail ballots to all members of the retirement system whether active or retired. The election board shall instruct each member to place an appropriate marking on the face of the printed ballot envelope next to the name of one candidate, insert the ballot into a ballot envelope, and the ballot envelope into the pre-stamped envelope, seal said pre-stamped envelope and mail said envelope to the election board in care of the county retirement board, within 20 days after they were mailed. Any envelope postmarked later than 20 days after such mailing shall not be used to determine the elected member. The election board shall notify each candidate of the time and location of the tabulation of the ballots and shall permit all such candidates to be present at said tabulation. At the specified time for tabulation, the election board shall assemble all envelopes and inspect said envelopes. Any envelope which has been opened prior to said date, or which has not been signed on the rear by the appropriate addressee, shall be invalidated and shall not be used to determine the elected member. The election board shall, assemble all properly signed, unopened envelopes and shall open each envelope and separate the enclosed ballot from said envelope. The election board shall assemble all ballots and shall tabulate the vote for each candidate. Any ballot which contains a marking for more than the number of vacancies shall be declared invalid.
The election board shall notify each candidate in writing of the results of said election. All envelopes and ballots received by said election board, including those determined to be invalid, shall be preserved by the election board for two years. The costs incurred by the election board in administering the election shall be paid from the county retirement system administration fund.
(i) The group insurance commission shall make available to board members and employees of a regional retirement board health, life and disability benefits, and said board members and employees shall be eligible to participate in all benefits administered by the group insurance commission. The costs thereof, including any administrative costs incurred by the group insurance commission shall be borne by said employees and board members and the regional retirement system.
Any benefits provided, prior to the abolition of county government, to employees and retirees of a regional retirement system that are not available through the group insurance commission may be provided to such employees and retirees through the regional retirement system; provided, however, that said system is fully reimbursed, in the case of retirees, for the cost of such benefits, and, in the case of employees, is reimbursed in a percentage equal to that of the percentage paid by state employees for similar benefits.
(j) An employer shall be required to provide a board member under its employ with all necessary leave required for service to such board. A board member who is an active member of a contributory retirement system shall receive creditable service, consistent with the provisions of paragraph (a) of subdivision (1) of section 4 of chapter 32, for such periods the member is so serving.
(k) The abolished county’s retirement board and retirement board advisory council shall continue to serve until such time as the members of the new retirement board and the new retirement board advisory council pursuant to this section have been duly elected, selected or appointed, as the case may be.
(l) Any provisions of said chapter 32, including provisions that apply to a county retirement systems, that are not inconsistent with the provisions of this chapter shall apply to a regional retirement system.
(m) No employee, contractor, vendor or person receiving remuneration, financial benefit or consideration of any kind, other than a retirement benefit or the statutory stipend for serving on the retirement board, from a retirement board or from a person doing business with a retirement board shall be eligible to serve on a retirement board; provided however, that an employee of a retirement board may serve on a retirement board other than the retirement board by which the person is employed; and provided further, that this paragraph shall apply only to individuals who first become members of a retirement board on or after April 2, 2012.