Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. It is hereby declared essential that the town of Bellingham, for the benefit of the people of the town, shall continue to maintain economical and efficient sewer and water systems: said town be provided a means to improve its water and sewer services operating in a modern, efficient, financially self-sustaining, and environmentally sound manner: that just, equitable and sufficient fees, rates and charges for water and sewer service within the town be established and all consumers, public and private, taxpayer and tax exempt, pay their fair share of the costs of such services; all to the public benefit and good, as and to the extent and in the manner provided herein. This act may be referred to and cited as the Bellingham water and sewer reorganization act of 1986.
SECTION 2. As used in this act, the following words shall, unless the context requires otherwise, have the following meanings:-
"Sewer works system", the existing sewer works system in the possession of and under the jurisdiction, ownership, control and regulation of the town and its sewer commission, and all facilities, betterments, extensions, improvements, enlargements thereto hereafter constructed or acquired.
"Water works system", the existing water supply and distribution system in the possession of and under the jurisdiction, ownership, control, and regulation of the town and its water commission, and all facilities, betterments, extension, improvements, and enlargements thereto hereafter constructed or acquired.
"Town", the town of Bellingham.
SECTION 3. There is hereby established the Bellingham water and sewer commission hereinafter called the commission. Except as otherwise provided in this act, the powers of the commission shall be exercised by a board consisting of five members. Such persons to be elected in the following manner: one member shall be elected, for a three year term, by ballot, at the annual town election next after the acceptance of this act with the remaining four members being incumbents in their respective offices with the board of water commissioners and the sewer commissioners as elected thereto, now becoming the Bellingham water and sewer commission: two members shall be elected by ballot for a term of three years to the Bellingham water and sewer commission at the annual town election one year after the acceptance of this act with the remaining two members being incumbents in office as elected to the board of water commissioners and the sewer commission, two members shall be elected by ballot for a three year term two years after the acceptance of this act and for a three year term. Upon the expiration of the initial terms, each of the said commissioners shall be thereafter elected for three year terms.
SECTION 4. The commission shall appoint, employ and determine the duties and conditions of employment of a superintendent and such other employees and consultants as the commission may deem necessary, subject to the applicable laws of the town and commonwealth. All appropriations for wages and salaries of personnel, and the establishment or amendment of a wage and salary classification plan, shall be subject to the provisions of the town personnel by-law. The superintendent shall be the chief executive officer of the commission and shall administer and direct its affairs as authorized or approved by the commission and shall have such of the powers and perform such duties of the commission as the commission may from time to time delegate to him and not recall. The commission and its employees shall be subject to the provisions of chapter one hundred and fifty E of the General Laws, to the extent that said provisions are applicable. For the purposes of said chapter one hundred and fifty E, and without otherwise limiting the generality of the foregoing, the town shall be considered an "employer" or "public employer" as defined therein. The commission shall operate on the same fiscal year as the town of Bellingham and subject to what sums of money the town shall vote, for such purposes as the town may vote, at either an annual or special town meeting, to raise and appropriate or transfer from available funds to pay interest and maturing debts: for charges, expenses, outlays; for a reserve fund.
SECTION 5. The commission shall assume all of the rights, duties and obligations of the town of Bellingham's sewer commission and the town of Bellingham's water commission. It shall assume the care, custody, and control of all property, personal or real, which, on the effective date of this act, resides in the care, custody, and control of the aforesaid sewer and water commissions. All orders, rules, regulations and by-laws duly promulgated by the town or the aforesaid sewer and water commissions shall remain in full force and effect, to the extent consistent with this act, until superseded, revised or rescinded by the commission and or town as applicable. All contracts, including collective bargaining agreements, leases, and agreements, including interdepartmental agreements, pertaining to the sewer and water works system shall continue in full force and effect until their expiration dates. All benefits and obligations thereunder, and all other rights and benefits pertaining to the sewer and water works system and existing by-law, including, without limiting the generality of the foregoing, all rights, benefits and obligations not inconsistent with the provisions of this act, which pertain to the sewer and water works system and which are vested in the aforesaid sewer and water commissions by general or special law, shall be transferred to, assumed by and imposed upon the commission by operation of law.
SECTION 6. This act shall be submitted to an annual or special town meeting for acceptance, and if accepted, shall be effective at the annual town election next after its acceptance. On the effective date of this act, employees in the existing Bellingham sewer and water commissions shall be transferred to the new commission and become employees of said commission, subject to the provisions of this act; and the existing Bellingham sewer and water commissions and departments shall be abolished. The terms of office of such employees shall not be deemed to be interrupted by such transfer. The rights, seniority, wages, salaries, hours and working conditions of such employees, including, but only so long as such an employee holds the position which is comparable to the position in which he was classified prior to transfer, rights under chapter thirty-one of the General Laws, shall be preserved in their employment by the commission, provided that after such transfer, such employees shall perform their duties subject to the direction, control, and supervision of the commission. Nothing in the foregoing shall be construed as a limitation on the powers of the commission, subject to the provisions of this act and other applicable laws, to thereafter create, amend or abolish job positions in furtherance of the aforesaid intent of this act to provide the people of the town of Bellingham an efficient, modern and financially self-sustaining sewer and water works system.
SECTION 7. The commission shall have all the rights and powers which presently exist and reside in the Bellingham sewer and water commissions under the General Laws and under applicable special acts, insofar as these do not conflict with the provisions of this act.
SECTION 8. Upon the effective date of this act, except as otherwise provided herein, any provisions of any special laws and parts of special laws, and all by-laws and parts of by-laws pertaining to the sewer and water works system, which are inconsistent with the provisions of this act, shall be inoperative and cease to be effective.
SECTION 9. This act, being necessary for the welfare and living conditions of the town and its inhabitants, shall be liberally construed to effect the purposes hereof.