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  • PART I ADMINISTRATION OF THE GOVERNMENT
  • TITLE VII CITIES, TOWNS AND DISTRICTS
  • CHAPTER 40N MODEL WATER AND SEWER COMMISSION
  • Section 9 Additional powers and limitations

Section 9. In addition to the powers of the commission otherwise provided herein, the commission shall have the following powers and shall be subject to the following limitations:

(a) The commission is authorized and empowered to fix, revise, charge, collect and abate fees, rates, rents, assessments, delinquency charges and other charges for water, sewer and other services, facilities and commodities furnished or supplied by it including penalties for violations of such regulations as the commission may from time to time promulgate under this chapter. Subject to paragraph (c), fees, rates, rents, assessments, delinquency charges and other charges of general application shall be adopted and revised by the commission at least annually in accordance with procedures to be established by the commission for assuring that interested persons are afforded notice and an opportunity to present data, views and arguments. The commission shall hold at least one public hearing on its schedule of fees, rates and charges or any revision thereof prior to adoption, notice of which shall be delivered to the legislative and executive bodies of the municipality and be published in a newspaper of substantial circulation in the municipality at least one month in advance of the hearing. No later than the date of such publication the commission shall make available to the public and deliver to the mayor and council its most recent financial statement, the proposed schedule of fees, rates and charges and its proposed operating and capital budgets for its next fiscal year. The commission may combine its fees, rates and other charges for water supplied by it and sewer service provided by it in a single schedule of charges. Fees, rates, rents, assessments, abatements and other charges established by the commission shall not be subject to supervision or regulation by any department, division, commission, board, bureau, or agency of the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions, including, without limitation, the municipality.

(b) Subject to paragraph (e), the fees, rates, rents, assessments and other charges established by the commission in accordance with paragraph (a) shall be so fixed and adjusted in respect to the aggregate thereof so as to provide revenues at least sufficient (i) to pay the current expenses of the commission, (ii) to pay the principal of, premium, if any, and interest on bonds or other evidences of indebtedness issued by the commission under this chapter as the same become due and payable, (iii) to create and maintain such reasonable reserves as may be reasonably required by any trust agreement or resolution securing bonds, (iv) to provide funds for paying the cost of all necessary repairs, replacements and renewals of the water works system and the sewer works system and (v) to pay or provide for any amounts which the commission may be obligated to pay or provide for by law or contract including any resolution or contract with or for the benefit of the holders of its bonds.

(c) Notwithstanding the requirements of paragraph (b), the fees, rents, rates and other charges for services, facilities and commodities supplied by the water works system and sewer works system in effect on the date of acceptance of this chapter shall be maintained by the commission without modification one year following the acceptance of this chapter, or such earlier date not earlier than six months after said acceptance as the commission shall determine. Upon the transfer of the water works system and sewer works system to the commission pursuant to section five, the commission shall undertake a study and examination of its fees, rents, rates and other charges and its estimated current expenses and costs of maintaining, operating and improving the systems, and shall prior to one year after the date of acceptance of this chapter promulgate in accordance with paragraph (a) a schedule of fees, rents, rates and other charges sufficient thereafter to satisfy the requirements of paragraph (b). Such new schedule of fees, rates and charges shall become effective one year after the date of acceptance of this chapter or such earlier date not earlier than six months after the date of acceptance of this chapter as the commission shall determine. Such schedule shall provide for the metering of, and charging for, water and sewer services provided to all consumers in the municipality, including the municipality, the commonwealth and all independent agencies and authorities of the municipality and the commonwealth, and any exemptions from such charges provided to the commonwealth or the municipality under any general or special law, are hereby declared inapplicable as of the date such schedule shall be in force; provided, however, that no betterment or special assessment shall be made by a water and sewer commission under the authority of chapters forty, eighty, eighty-three or any other provision of law against property owned by the commonwealth or any municipality of the commonwealth, or any political subdivisions thereof.

(d) In order to provide for the collection and enforcement of its fees, rates, rents, assessments and other charges, the commission is hereby granted all the powers and privileges with respect to such collection and enforcement held by the municipality on the effective date of this chapter or as otherwise provided in this chapter. Without limiting the generality of the foregoing, the commission shall have the benefit, without further acceptance of sections forty-two A to forty-two F, inclusive, of chapter forty or filing of any certificate relating thereto, of liens for unpaid fees, rates, rents, assessments and other charges as provided in sections forty-two A and forty-two B of said chapter forty and sections sixteen A and sixteen B of chapter eighty-three, to the extent applicable and consistent with this chapter. With respect to any fees, rates, rents, assessments or other charges which remain unpaid for more than six months after the same shall have come due, the commission may, in addition to other remedies and actions available to it, issue a demand in accordance with section sixteen of chapter sixty and may collect such fees, rates, rents, assessments and other charges by means of remedies and procedures, to the extent applicable and consistent with this chapter, provided in sections twenty-four to one hundred and five, inclusive, of said chapter sixty; provided, however, that any lien or taking of property, or foreclosure of the right of redemption undertaken pursuant to this section shall be subordinated only to a municipality’s lien on the property, and shall not interfere with any tax sale, distraint, taking or foreclosure of the right of redemption or other remedy exercised by the municipality, regardless of when the municipality’s lien arose. If such demand is made within the time specified in section forty-two B of chapter forty and section sixteen B of chapter eighty-three during which liens arising thereunder remain in effect, said liens shall continue in effect for the period specified in section thirty-seven of chapter sixty, provided, however, that the year of assessment shall be deemed to be the year in which such demand is made. From and after the date of such demand interest shall accrue on unpaid fees, rates, rents, assessments and other charges at the rate specified in section fifty-seven of chapter fifty-nine. Applications for abatements in accordance with section forty-two E of said chapter forty and section sixteen E of chapter eighty-three shall be made within thirty days after the date of such demand. Upon written application the commission shall issue lien certificates in accordance with section twenty-three of said chapter sixty. No recordation of certificates issued by the municipality pursuant to said section twenty-three of said chapter sixty shall affect liens for the unpaid fees, rates, rents, assessments, and other charges of the commission. The commission shall be entitled to receive fees for collection in accordance with section fifteen of said chapter sixty. For purposes of the sections referred to in this paragraph, the terms city, town, water district, assessors, collector, clerk, treasurer, or commissioner as used therein shall mean the commission and the term tax or taxed shall mean the unpaid fees, rents, assessments, and other charges of the commission. The commission shall also have the powers and may exercise the remedies, to the extent consistent with this chapter, provided in sections twenty-nine, thirty-five and fifty and sections fifty-three to sixty-four, inclusive, of chapter sixty-two C and in chapter eighty and chapter eighty A. For purposes of said sections of said chapter sixty-two C, the terms commonwealth and commissioner used therein shall mean the commission.

In addition to the other enforcement powers and remedies provided in this chapter, if any fees, rates, rents, assessments or other charges billed by the commission against any premises which are connected with the water works system or sewer works system remain unpaid for a period of more than sixty days from the due date thereof, and following such period notice and demand have been posted on such premises and have been given to the owner of said premises, by registered or certified mail addressed to said premises and to the address of said owner as shown on the records of the assessor of the city or town and to occupants of said premises by mail, to pay the same within fifteen days from the date of mailing of said notice, and such fees, rates, rents, assessments or other charges remain unpaid, the commission shall have the power and is hereby authorized to shut off the supply of water to said premises until said fees, rates, rents, assessments or other charges are paid, together with interest thereon at the applicable rate and the standard charge of the commission for restoring water service to said premises.

(e) If at the end of any fiscal year, the commission shall have realized a surplus from operations for such fiscal year, after payment or provision for all current expenses, current maintenance, repairs and replacements, current debt service on all outstanding bonds of the commission, all reserves for debt service, repairs and replacements, costs or current expenses as may be required by a trust agreement or resolution securing bonds or as may otherwise be maintained by the commission, and any and all other amounts which the commission may be obligated by law or contract to pay or provide for, the commission shall either apply such surplus in the next following fiscal year to a reduction in the rates, fees, rents, assessments or other charges established by the commission for services provided by the water works system and the sewer works system or shall apply such surplus to the reduction or provision for reduction of its outstanding capital debt.

(f) On or before one year after the acceptance of this chapter and annually thereafter, the commission shall prepare a proposed capital improvement program for the next three succeeding fiscal years of the commission and shall adopt a capital improvement budget for the next succeeding fiscal year. Such program and budget shall include a description of the projects proposed to be undertaken during such periods, the costs proposed to be incurred on such projects, the method of financing such costs and an estimate of the effect, if any, that such costs will have on the current or projected fees, rates, rents and other charges of the commission. The program and budget shall be annually adopted by the commission in accordance with procedures established by the commission for assuring that interested persons are afforded notice and an opportunity to present views and arguments. The commission shall hold at least one public hearing on the proposed capital improvement program and budget prior to adoption, which hearing may be combined with a hearing provided in paragraph (a) of this section, notice of which shall be delivered to the mayor and city council, board of selectmen or district board and be published in a newspaper of substantial circulation in the city, town or district at least one month in advance of the hearing. No later than the date of such publication the commission shall make available to the public and deliver to the mayor and city council copies of the proposed program and budget.