Section 8: Plan to recover amounts paid by commonwealth for liabilities and debts of abolished counties
Section 8. (a) For the purpose of recovering amounts expended by the commonwealth for the liabilities and other debts assumed and paid by the commonwealth on behalf of an abolished county, the secretary of administration and finance shall establish a plan to recover said amounts pursuant to subsection (e). Said secretary shall determine said amounts by comparing the gross liabilities of an abolished county assumed by the commonwealth with the gross assets received by the commonwealth from said county and recovering the difference from the member municipalities of said counties.
(b) Said liabilities shall include, but not be limited to: (1) reserves appropriated by the commonwealth for payment of costs and liabilities of an abolished county, (2) funds appropriated by the commonwealth in Berkshire county for the operation of the registries of deeds in fiscal year 2000, (3) the salary of a county treasurer paid by the commonwealth subsequent to the date of abolition, (4) the amount of bonded debt paid by the state treasurer subsequent to the date of abolition, (5) any amounts appropriated by the commonwealth for capital reserves or improvements for an independent agricultural and technical institute in fiscal year 2000; (6) the regional retirement system transfer deficit as defined in section 18, and (7) the present value of the accrued benefits of the transferred members less the transfer assets determined pursuant to section 18, which shall be known as the unfunded pension liability; provided, however, that when determining the present value of the accrued benefits, an actuary shall assume that each transferred employee will retire on the date that such employee is eligible to receive a retirement allowance calculated using the maximum percentage provided in subparagraph (a) of subdivision (2) of section 5 of chapter 32 and the service and final average salary at the date of transfer using assumptions of the retirement system in its most recent actuarial valuation. The sum of all such liabilities shall be the gross liabilities of the abolished county.
(c) Said assets shall include, but not be limited to: (1) the amount of cash on hand and accounts receivable of an abolished county deemed collectable by said secretary which became assets of the commonwealth as of the date of abolition, (2) in Berkshire county, the revenue received by the Berkshire county registries of deeds in fiscal year 2000, (3) the value of real estate of the county transferred to the commonwealth pursuant to this chapter, net of amounts provided to a county by the commonwealth for construction, reconstruction or improvements of such real estate and payments by the commonwealth for debt service; provided that solely for the purpose of determining a value to include on the schedule of assets and liabilities required by this section any such real estate shall be valued at 75 per cent of the value assessed by the city or town in which it is located as of the transfer date, subject to adjustment if the commonwealth appraises such property at a greater value in fiscal year 2001; provided, further, that the county treasurer or, in the absence of such treasurer, the executive director of the regional retirement system shall collect and provide to said secretary local assessment information from each municipality in which the abolished county owned property as of the transfer date, within 60 days of such transfer date or February 1, 2000, whichever is later. The sum of all such assets shall be the gross assets of the abolished county. Nothing in this section shall be construed as creating any subsequent commonwealth financial obligation to cities and towns.
(d) If the commonwealth conveys, during the term of the amortization schedule pursuant to paragraph (e), any property that was formerly owned by an abolished county and transferred to the commonwealth pursuant to section 6, the difference between the sale price and the value assigned under paragraph (c) shall be credited by the secretary against the net liabilities of the abolished county.
(e) Said secretary shall establish an amortization schedule to recover any amounts so expended by the commonwealth which shall be filed with the clerks of the house of representatives and the senate not later than 120 days after the transfer date or April 1, 2000, whichever is later. If such amortization schedule is not prepared within such time, the assessments collected hereunder shall cease until such schedule is so prepared and filed. Unless the general court changes said plan or schedule by law, said secretary shall proceed with implementation of said plan and schedule beginning one year after the transfer date or July 1, 2000, whichever is later; provided, however, that nothing herein shall preclude said assessment from being collected during the year prior to said implementation.
(f) Payment on said schedule shall be as described in this subsection. For the duration of said schedule, the state treasurer shall, pursuant to section 20 of chapter 59, assess upon each city and town within the former jurisdiction of an abolished county an amount equal to the county tax paid by each such city and town as assessed pursuant to the provisions of chapter 35 for the fiscal year beginning July 1 of the year immediately before the transfer date in Middlesex, Worcester and Hampden counties, and an amount up to the county tax paid by each such city and town as assessed pursuant the provisions of chapter 35 for the fiscal year beginning July 1 of the year immediately before the transfer date in Essex, Berkshire and Hampshire counties; provided, however, that in Essex County such assessment shall be based on the fiscal year beginning July 1 two years before the transfer date.
The amount of the assessment shall be paid annually by each city or town to the treasurer of the commonwealth and shall remain in effect for the duration of said amortization schedule, which, in Hampshire, Essex and Berkshire counties, shall not be less than ten years, and which, in Middlesex, Worcester and Hampden county, shall not exceed 25 years. In the event an assessment due is not paid in accordance with this section, it shall be deducted from the cherry sheet, so-called.
(g) Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary, the comptroller of the commonwealth shall deposit the funds collected pursuant to this section without further appropriation as follows: amounts that are proportionally equal to the amount that the unfunded pension liability is to the gross liabilities of the abolished county shall be deposited into the commonwealth pension liability fund; amounts that are proportionally equal to the amount that the regional retirement transfer deficit as defined in section 15 is to the gross liabilities of the abolished county shall be deposited with the regional retirement system in the geographical area of the former county; and amounts that are proportionally equal to the amount that all other liabilities of the abolished county are to the gross liability of the abolished county shall be deposited into the local aid fund.