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General Laws

Section 51N. Two or more municipalities, by vote of the city council in a city with the approval of the mayor or by vote of a town meeting in a town, may agree to establish, maintain and operate an airport as a joint enterprise, in this section referred to as a joint airport. For the purposes of this section, the foregoing authorization, in so far as it relates to the establishment of a joint airport, shall be deemed also to authorize the acquisition, construction, enlargement and improvement thereof, including other action involving capital expenditures in connection with such an airport, all of which action shall be comprehended within the meaning of the words “establish”, “establishing” and “establishment”, and such authorization, in so far as it relates to the maintenance and operation of such an airport, shall be deemed also to authorize the regulation, protection, policing, alteration or repair thereof, including other action involving expenditures, other than capital expenditures, in connection with such an airport, all of which action shall be comprehended within the meaning of the words “maintain and operate”, “maintaining and operating” and “maintenance and operation”. Within thirty days after such votes have been passed the mayor and city council of cities and selectmen of towns which have so voted shall meet and draft a tentative agreement covering the contemplated action or actions. Said tentative agreement when completed shall be submitted and may be resubmitted to the director of accounts in the department of corporations and taxation for approval as to its financial provisions and to the commission for approval as to its other provisions. The agreement, as approved by the commission and said director, shall become effective when agreed to by the mayor and city council of each such city and the town meeting of each such town. Any reference in this section to the mayor of a city shall, in case of a city having a Plan E form of government, be deemed to refer to its city manager.

In addition to the provisions covering the requirements contained in this section, such an agreement shall include, but shall not be limited to, provision for the following:—

1. Establishing a joint airport commission for the purpose of exercising as agent all of the powers relative to the joint airport granted to each participating municipality, specifying the terms of office and compensation of each member of such a commission.

2. Choice by the joint airport commission of officers of the joint enterprise including a treasurer who may be treasurer of one of the participating municipalities and who shall be custodian of the joint airport fund and shall deposit with the director of accounts a bond running to such municipalities with a surety company authorized to transact business in the commonwealth as surety, for the faithful performance of his duties as treasurer of the joint enterprise, in such form and upon such conditions as said director may require. Said director shall cause an audit to be made of the accounts of the joint enterprise and may cause subsequent audits to be made of such accounts annually, and for this purpose he and his duly accredited agents shall have access to all necessary books, papers and records. Upon completion of such audit, copies of the report thereof shall be sent to the treasurer of the joint enterprise and to the mayor, selectmen, and city or town clerk of each participating municipality.

3. Establishing a joint airport fund into which there shall be deposited the proportionate share of the cost and expenses incident to the establishing, maintaining and operating of the joint airport, all revenues obtained from or on account of the joint airport and all federal, state and other contributions or loans and from which disbursement shall be made by order of the joint airport commission.

4. Specifying the proportionate interest of each participating municipality in the joint airport and its proportionate share of the cost and expenses and indebtedness incident to the establishing, maintaining and operating thereof, which proportionate interest and share shall be determined on the basis of the taxable valuations of said municipalities as last established by the general court as a basis for state and county taxes or on any other basis agreed upon.

5. Terminating the joint enterprise and liquidating its affairs.

6. Amending the agreement, provided that any amendment thereof providing for the enlargement of the joint airport or any alteration or improvement thereof involving capital expenditures shall become effective only when agreed to by the mayor and city council of each participating city and the town meeting of each participating town.

The joint airport commission from time to time shall determine the amounts necessary to be raised to establish the joint airport and shall apportion the balance needed, over and above the amount available for such purposes in the joint airport fund, among the several participating municipalities on the basis set forth in the agreement and shall promptly thereafter notify said municipalities of such apportionment by sending notice to the mayor, in the case of a city, and to the selectmen, in the case of a town. There shall be no referendum to the voters on any action taken under this paragraph by the legislative body of any participating municipality. In case any such municipality fails to pay over to the treasurer of the joint enterprise the amount of its apportionment within the time specified in the agreement for such payment, the treasurer of such municipality shall forthwith certify such amount to the board of assessors of his municipality who shall include such amount in the tax levy next following the certification, and the amount when raised shall be paid over by the treasurer of such municipality to the treasurer of the joint enterprise.

The joint airport commission shall determine the amounts necessary to be raised to maintain and operate the joint airport and shall apportion the balance needed, over and above the amount available for such purposes in the joint airport fund, among the several participating municipalities on the basis set forth in the agreement and shall promptly thereafter notify the treasurers of said municipalities of such apportionment. Every treasurer so notified shall, annually in December, certify the amount of such apportionment to the board of assessors of his municipality, who shall, unless funds are available from appropriations or otherwise, include such amount in the tax levy of the following year, and the amount of such apportionment shall be paid over by the treasurer of such municipality to the treasurer of the joint enterprise within the time specified in the agreement for such payment.

Action by a participating municipality in establishing, maintaining and operating a joint airport shall be authorized to the same extent and subject to the same provisions of law as in the case of like action by such municipality independently with respect to an airport, except as otherwise provided in this section and except that the joint airport commission is authorized to acquire property by eminent domain, purchase or otherwise for purposes of the joint airport in the names of the participating municipalities but only within the territorial limits of such municipalities, and each of such municipalities shall have the same interest in the property so acquired that it has in the joint airport under the agreement.

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