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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Section 39M: Water infrastructure surcharge on real property; exemptions; appeal; Municipal Water Infrastructure Investment Fund

Section 39M. (a) Notwithstanding chapter 59 or any other general or special law to the contrary, any city or town, which accepts this section in accordance with subsection (f), may impose a water infrastructure surcharge on real property at a rate up to, but not exceeding, 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.

(b) 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 section. A taxpayer receiving an exemption of real property under a clause of section 5 of said chapter 59 specifically listed in section 59 of said chapter 59 shall be exempt from any surcharge on real property established under this section. The surcharge to be paid by a taxpayer receiving any other exemption or abatement of tax on real property authorized by said chapter 59 or any other law shall be reduced in proportion to the amount of such exemption or abatement.

(c) 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.

(d) A person claiming an exemption provided under this subsection may apply to the board of assessors, in writing, on a form approved by the commissioner of revenue, on or before the deadline for an application for exemption under section 59 of chapter 59. Any person aggrieved by a decision of the assessors or by their failure to act upon such application may appeal, as provided in sections 64 to 65B, inclusive, of said chapter 59. Applications for exemption under this section shall be open for inspection only as provided in section 60 of said chapter 59.

(e) Notwithstanding section 53 of chapter 44 or any other general or special law to the contrary, a city or town that accepts this section shall establish a separate account to be known as the Municipal Water Infrastructure Investment Fund. All monies collected from the surcharge, under this section, shall be deposited into said fund. The municipal treasurer shall be the custodian of the fund. The treasurer may invest the monies of the fund in separate accounts in the manner authorized by sections 55 and 55A of said chapter 44. Any interest earned thereon shall be credited to and become part of such separate account. The authority to approve expenditures from the fund shall be limited to the local legislative body and the municipal treasurer shall pay such expenses in accordance with chapter 41. The expenditures of revenues from the fund shall be exclusively used for maintenance, improvements and investments to municipal drinking, wastewater and stormwater infrastructure assets.

(f) This section shall only take effect in a city or town upon the approval of the legislative body and the acceptance of the voters of a city or town on a ballot question at the next regular municipal or state election; provided, however, that this section shall take effect on July 1 of the fiscal year after such acceptance or a later fiscal year as the city or town may designate.

(g) Upon acceptance of this section and upon the assessors' warrant to the tax collector, the accepted surcharge shall be imposed.

(h) 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 the surcharge, which shall be subject to public examination upon reasonable request.

(i) 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 section.

(j) A city or town that has accepted this section may revoke its acceptance, or amend the amount of the surcharge, in the manner outlined in subsection (f); provided, however, that it may not amend the applicable surcharge rate more often than once in any 12 month period. Any monies remaining in the fund upon revocation shall be expended in a manner consistent with this section.