Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. There is hereby established the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste Management District, a public body politic and corporate, hereinafter referred to as the district. Said district shall function as a regional solid waste management district and in addition to or as limited by the powers and responsibilities provided pursuant to this act, shall have the powers and responsibilities provided to regional solid waste management districts pursuant to sections forty-four A to forty-four K, inclusive, of chapter forty of the General Laws.
The district is created and shall exist for the purpose of providing solid waste management services for its member municipalities and the residents thereof through the district's removal, transportation, disposal, recovery, recycling, or any combination thereof, of solid wastes generated within the district. The district may also contract with other municipalities outside of said district for removal, transportation, disposal, recovery, recycling, or any combination thereof, of solid wastes generated within such municipalities.
The district is composed of and includes all of the lands and residents within the towns of Adams, Cheshire, Clarksburg, Florida, Hancock, Lanesborough, New Ashford, Savoy, Windsor, Williamstown and the city of North Adams which, by vote at an annual or special town meeting, or by vote of the city council in the case of North Adams, accept this act and hereby agree to participate in its creation and such other municipalities as are subsequently admitted to the district pursuant to the provisions of this act. The municipalities composing the district shall constitute its membership and are herein designated as member communities. Acceptance of the provisions of this act shall be in accordance with the terms of the agreement reached among the individual municipalities at the time of formation of the district. This provision of this act must be accepted within ninety days of its adoptions. Municipalities which do not accept this act within the initial ninety day period must apply for membership as provided in section five.
Except as otherwise provided or limited herein, the district shall have the following powers:
(a) to operate, cause to be operated, or contract for the operation of any and all facilities for the transportation, resource recovery, recycling and disposal of solid wastes and to determine and make proper charges for such services:
(b) to purchase, sell, lease, own, acquire, convey, mortgage, improve, and use real and personal property in connection with the purposes of the district;
(c) to hire and fix the compensation of employees;
(d) to sue and be sued;
(e) to enter into contracts for any term or duration;
(f) to contract with architects, engineers, financial and legal consultants, and other experts for services;
(g) to contract with individuals, corporations, associations, authorities, agencies, and municipalities for any and all services;
(h) to contract to pay for solid waste disposal services on the basis of guaranteed amounts of solid waste with payments based on such guaranteed amounts, whether actually disposed of or not, which payments may be variable and may be determined by formulas expressed in such contracts, provided, however, that said payments shall be authorized with an affirmative vote by two-thirds of the board of commissioners and two-thirds of the member municipalities;
(i) to contract with the commonwealth or the United States of America, or any agency, department or subdivision thereof for services;
(j) to contract with any member municipality for the services of any property, officers or employees of that municipality useful to it;
(k) to promote cooperative arrangements and coordinated action among its member municipalities;
(l) to make recommendations for review and action to its member municipalities;
(m) to exercise any other powers which are exercised or are capable of exercise by any of its member municipalities and which are necessary or desirable for dealing with solid waste problems of mutual concern;
(n) to exercise the power of eminent domain pursuant to chapter seventy-nine, or acquire by purchase or otherwise, any land, property, rights-of-way or easements, public or private in said district, necessary for accomplishing any of the purposes of the act.
(o) to borrow money and issue evidence of indebtedness as provided herein and as provided in chapter forty-four of the General Laws; provided, however, that said debt shall be authorized by two-thirds vote of the board of commissioners and two-thirds vote of the member municipalities.
(p) to establish a budget and assess member municipalities for the expense of the district subject to provisions of section twenty B of chapter fifty-nine of the General Laws;
(q) to appropriate and expend monies;
(r) to establish capital reserve funds for public improvements in furtherance of its purpose;
(s) to prevent the discharge into the disposal facilities of substances which may damage or interfere with its maintenance of operation. The district shall, for the proper and reasonable operations of its works, make regulations as to the quantity and character of any refuse or other solid wastes discharged into any disposal facility under its control. The district may prohibit discharge into any disposal facility under its control of certain unique industrial refuse and solid wastes if the commission determines such refuse and wastes may interfere or damage the disposal facility or interfere with its maintenance or operation or not be in compliance with the Environmental Protection Agency or the department of environmental quality and engineering regulations. The responsibility for disposal of such unique waste or for their modification to allow disposal in district facilities shall rest with the producers thereof.
(t) to sell by negotiation to the participating members of the district any property, including land, acquired by it hereunder which in its opinion is no longer needed in the performance of the powers and duties conferred and imposed on it by this act; provided however, that any land is first made available to the town in which it is located, and in the case of machinery, member municipalities shall have a priority of bid purchase at a reasonable price.
(u) to enter upon lands for the purpose of making surveys, borings, and may take by eminent domain under said chapter seventy-nine, or acquire by purchase or otherwise, the right to occupy any land in said district necessary for the carrying out of the said purposes.
(v) to enact and enforce any and all necessary or desirable regulations for the orderly conduct of the government and for carrying out purposes of the district;
(w) to accept and administer gifts, grants, and bequests in trust or otherwise for the purpose of the district;
(x) to exercise all powers incident to a public corporation.
SECTION 2. The legislative power and authority of the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste District and the administration and general supervision of all fiscal, prudential and governmental affairs thereof shall be vested in a Board of Commissioners, hereafter referred to as the board, except as specifically provided otherwise in this act.
The board shall be comprised of one member as representative from each of the district's municipalities.
Every two years, beginning with acceptance of this act, and by July 1st thereafter, each member municipality shall appoint its representative to the board. The board of selectmen of each member town shall appoint a representative who shall be one of the selectmen, or their designee if the selectmen decline to serve. The mayor of any city in said district shall likewise be a representative, or may appoint a designee. Designees must be residents of the appointing municipality and may be municipal employees, but not employees of the district.
For the purposes of transacting business, the presence of members whose accumulated votes represent at least fifty per cent of the total number of possible votes and at least fifty per cent of the member municipalities shall constitute a quorum; provided, however, that a smaller number may adjourn to another date. Any action adopted by a majority of the votes cast at a meeting of the board at which a quorum is present shall be the action of the board, except as otherwise provided by this act.
Each member of the board shall be entitled to cast one vote for every one hundred residents as defined by the latest official state census, rounded to the nearest one hundred, in the municipality which he represents.
The board shall adopt, and from time to time amend by-laws and policies describing and stipulating its organization and operations.
The board shall appoint and determine the compensation of an executive director who shall administer the affairs and direct the engineering work of the district as approved by the board. Said director to function as chief executive officer of the district. The board shall set forth the powers and duties of the executive directors in its by-laws. The executive director may, upon approval of the board, enter into contracts for professional or construction services to be provided to the district by private contractors.
SECTION 3. The officers of the district shall be the chairman and the vice chairman of the board. No person may hold more than one office at one time.
Prior to assuming their offices, all officers shall post bond in such amounts as shall be determined by resolution of the board. The cost of such bond shall be borne by the district.
The chairman shall call and preside at all meetings of the board. The chairman shall perform all of the duties incident to the position and office, including functioning as chief executive officer in the absence of one employed by the district.
During the absence or inability of the chairman to render or perform his duties or exercise his powers, the same shall be performed and exercised by the vice chairman and when so acting the vice chairman shall have all the powers and be subject to all the responsibilities hereby given to or imposed upon the chairman.
During the absence or inability of either the chairman or vice chairman to render or perform his duties or exercise his powers, the board shall elect from among its membership an acting chairman or vice chairman who shall have all the powers and be subject to all the responsibilities hereby given to or imposed upon the chairman or vice chairman.
The board shall appoint and may at its pleasure remove a treasurer and a clerk, who shall not be members of the board. Both offices, if the board deems it advisable, may be held by the same person, either or both may be held by the executive director. The treasurer shall give to the board a bond payable to the district with a surety company authorized to transact business within the commonwealth and satisfactory to the board as surety in such sums as the board may prescribe and conditioned on the faithful performance of his duties cost of said bond to be borne by the district. The duties of the treasurer and clerk shall be those usually appertaining to said offices, respectively, and in addition such as may from time to time be prescribed by the board. The compensation of the treasurer and of the clerk shall be determined by the board. The board may retain legal counsel for any and all appropriate purposes. The executive director, with the approval of the board, shall from time to time appoint or employ such other employees as he deems necessary and shall determine their duties. The salaries or compensation of all persons appointed or employed under authority of this section shall be determined by the board and together with other expenses shall be paid by the district and shall be considered a part of the expense of maintenance of the district.
The board shall establish an office in which its business may be conducted and at which maps, plans, documents, records, and other paper relating to its business, land and other works and property in its charge shall be kept. It shall at all times keep full and accurate accounts of its receipts, expenditures, disbursements, assets and liabilities, which shall be open at all times to inspection by the towns who are members of the district or by any officer or duly appointed agent of the commonwealth. The board shall make a report each year of its activities for the preceding year as well as an audit to be performed by an independent professional accounting firm annually and shall submit a copy of each to the state auditor and to the participating towns.
The board shall have the authority to establish any and all committees as it may deem necessary.
Board members may be reimbursed for actual expenses incurred in performance of their duties on approval of the board. The fiscal year of the district shall commence on July 1 and end on June thirtieth of each year.
(a) Annually on or before the first day of March, the board of commissioners shall prepare and distribute to each member municipality for review and comment an annual report of its activities, including a proposed budget of the district for the next fiscal year. The proposed budget shall include reasonably detailed estimates of: (1) deficits or surpluses from prior fiscal years; (2) anticipated expenditures for the administration of the district; (3) anticipated expenditures for the operation and maintenance of any district solid waste facilities; (4) cost of debt service; (5) payments due on long-term contracts; (6) payments due to any capital reserve funds; (7) anticipated revenues from sources other than assessments to member municipalities; (8) the necessary appropriations to operate and carry out the district's function for the next fiscal year; (9) the proposed assessment to each member municipality; and (10) such other estimates as the board of commissioners shall deem necessary to propose. The board of commissioners shall hold an annual public hearing each year to receive input from the member municipalities and hear all other interested persons regarding the proposed budget. Notice of such hearing shall be given at least seven days prior to the hearing by publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the district, by posting in at least three public places in each member municipality, and by filing with the town or city clerk of each member municipality. The board of commissioners shall give consideration to all comments received and make such changes to the proposed budget as it seems advisable.
(b) Annually on or before April first, the board of commissioners shall, by two-thirds vote, adopt a budget to appropriate the sums which it deems necessary to operate carry out the district's functions for the fiscal year, assess a tax upon each member municipality, subject to acceptance by two-thirds of the member municipalities, for its proportionate share of the sum appropriated and adopt a schedule designating when such taxes are due and payable by the member municipalities. Each amount so apportioned for each member shall, prior to March thirty-first in each year be certified by the board of assessors of each member of such district. The assessors of each member town shall without further vote include each amount as certified in those amounts to be annually raised by taxes under section twenty-three of chapter fifty-nine of the General Laws. The town or city treasurer shall pay equal quarterly payments payable the amount so certified to the treasurer of the district of the then taxable year. A town which has been assessed shall raise all or a portion of the amounts certified annually by the district to the assessors of each town, as provided in this act, through equitable and proportional charges against the inhabitants, corporations and other users of the service rendered by the district in each town.
(c) Taxes shall be apportioned according to the by-laws adopted by the board of commissioners.
(d) For the purposes of establishing an initial budget, the member municipalities upon acceptance of this act shall pay to the district an amount equal to one dollar per citizen of that municipality as of the nineteen hundred and eighty-five Census. The district may, by regular vote after a public hearing, establish its budget for the first fiscal year prior subsections of this section notwithstanding. The first fiscal year's budget shall not be construed as a base assessment to calculate the following years budget.
Annually on or before the first day of August, the treasurer of the district shall issue and present a warrant to each member municipality requiring that the amount of such tax be paid to him in accordance with the schedule for payments adopted by the board. If any member municipality shall fail to pay when due any tax assessed against it by the district, it shall incur a penalty of interest for late payment at one point five per cent per month. Such penalty and interest, together with the amount due, court costs, and reasonable attorney fees of the district, may be recovered by the district in a civil action under this section.
Action or resolution of the board for the annual appropriations in any year shall not cease to be operative at the end of the fiscal year for which they were adopted except as otherwise provided by the laws of the commission. Appropriations made by the board shall be expended only for such estimates, but by majority vote of the board the budget may be amended from time to time to transfer funds between or among such estimates, except as otherwise limited herein. Any balance left or unexpended in any such estimate shall be returned at the end of the fiscal year to the general fund of the district. The amount of any deficit at the end of the fiscal year shall be included in and paid out of the operating budget and appropriations in the next fiscal year.
(a) The board may borrow money through the issuance of notes of the district for the purpose of paying current expenses of the district in accordance with the General Laws. Such notes, however, must mature within the fiscal year in which they were issued. The board may also borrow money in anticipation of taxes it assessed for each such year and may issue note of the district which must mature within the fiscal year in which they were issued. The board may also borrow money in anticipation of any revenues other than taxes through the issuance of notes of the district. Such notes, however, must mature within the fiscal year in which they were issued.
(b) Indebtedness incurred by the district for regional disposal facilities shall be subject to the applicable provisions of chapter forty-four of the General Laws, except that the maturities of bonds or notes issued by said district either shall be arranged so that for each issue the annual combined payments of principal and interest payable in each year shall be as nearly equal as practicable in the opinion of the board of commissioners, or shall be arranged in accordance with a schedule providing for a more rapid amortization of principal, provided that such annual payments need not commence earlier than one year after the date of commencing regular use of the facilities, as projected or determined by the board of commissioners. Project costs to be financed by the issuance of bonds or notes may include interest on such borrowing, including interest on notes issued in anticipation of federal or state aid, for a period of up to six months after the date so projected or determined for commencement of regular use of the facilities financed by the bonds or notes.
The board may establish and provide for a capital reserve fund to pay for public improvements in furtherance of the purposes for which the district was created. Any such capital reserve fund shall be kept in a separate account and invested as are other public funds and may be expended for such purposes for which established, or other purposes. The cost of payments to any capital reserve fund shall be included in the annual budget of the district and shall be allocated among the member municipalities as provided in clause 2c of section 4.
The board may from time to time establish and adjust a disposal fee structure for the purpose of generating revenues from sources other than assessments to member municipalities, particularly concerning the operation and maintenance of any district solid waste disposal or resource recovery facility.
The costs and responsibility heretofore assigned to member municipalities for the transportation of the solid waste generated within each municipality to any district solid waste disposal or resource recovery facility and for providing a collection site for the solid waste generated within each municipality shall remain each member municipality's cost and responsibility.
Only persons authorized by the board shall be allowed access to any district solid waste disposal and/or resource recovery facility. Further restriction of vehicular access to such a facility may be imposed by the board.
SECTION 4. A member municipality may by vote of its legislative body withdraw from the district if two years have passed since it became a body politic and corporate, and if the district has not voted to bond for construction and improvements or to authorize a long-term contract pursuant to this agreement. If a majority of the voters of a member municipality's legislative body present and voting at a meeting of such municipality duly warned, or of the city council, for such purpose shall vote to withdraw from the district, the vote shall be certified to the district by the city or town clerk. Thereafter, the board shall give notice to the remaining member municipalities of the vote to withdraw and shall hold a meeting discuss the withdrawal pursuant to Section 4 and to determine if it is in the best interests of the district to continue to exit. Representatives of the member municipalities shall be given an opportunity to be heard at such meeting together with any other interested persons. The membership of the withdrawing municipality shall terminate as of one year following the vote to withdraw or as soon after such one year period as the financial obligations of said withdrawing municipality have been paid to the district. A vote of withdrawal taken after the district has voted to bond itself for construction and improvements or to authorize a long-term contract shall likewise be null and void.
The board may authorize the inclusion of additional member municipalities in the district upon such terms and conditions as it in its sole discretion shall deem to be fair, reasonable, and in the best interests of the district. The legislative body of any non-member municipality which desires to be admitted to the district shall make application for admission to the board of the district. The board shall determine the effects and impacts which are likely to occur if such municipality is admitted and shall thereafter either grant or deny authority for admission of the petitioning municipality. If the board grants such authority, it shall also specify any terms and conditions, including but not limited to financial obligations upon which such admission is predicated. If a majority of the voters of the petitioning municipality present and voting at a meeting of such municipality duly warned for such purpose shall vote to approve the agreement and the terms and conditions for admission, the vote shall be certified by the clerk of that municipality to the board. Thereafter upon satisfactory performance of the terms and conditions for admission, said municipality shall by resolution of the board become and thereafter be a member municipality of the district.
(A) If the board by resolution approved by two-thirds of all the votes entitled to be cast determines that it is in the best interests of the public, the member municipalities and the district that the district be dissolved, and if the district then has outstanding debt or obligations under long-term contracts, or will have no such debt or obligations upon completion of the plan of dissolution, it shall prepare a plan of dissolution and thereafter adopt a resolution direction that the question of such dissolution and the plan of dissolution be submitted to the voters member municipalities. If the member municipalities representing two-thirds of the votes of the district as vote to approve the plan of dissolution, the district shall cease to conduct its affairs except insofar as may be necessary for the winding up thereof. The board shall immediately cause a notice of the proposed dissolution to be mailed to each known creditor of the district and shall proceed to collect the assets of the district and apply and distribute them in accordance with the plan of dissolution.
(B) The plan of dissolution shall:
(1) identify and value all unencumbered assets of the district;
(2) identify and value all encumbered assets of the district;
(3) identify all creditors of the district and the nature or amount of all liabilities and obligations of the district;
(4) identify all obligations under long-term contracts;
(5) specify the means by which assets of the district shall be liquidated and all liabilities and obligations of the district shall be paid and discharged, or adequate provision shall be made for the satisfaction thereof;
(6) specify the amount of monies due from each member municipality, if necessary, to extinguish the liabilities of the district;
(7) specify the nature and amount of any liabilities of obligations to be assumed and paid by the member municipalities;
(8) specify the means by which any assets remaining after discharge of all liabilities shall be liquidated if necessary;
(9) specify that any assets remaining after payment of all liabilities shall be apportioned and distributed among the member municipalities according to the same basic formula used in apportioning the annual assessments of the district.
(C) When the plan of dissolution has been implemented, the board shall adopt a resolution certifying that fact to the member municipalities whereupon this agreement and the district created hereby shall be terminated, upon vote of the general court.
SECTION 5. This act may be submitted for approval at any annual or special town meeting of the towns eligible for special town meeting of the towns eligible for membership as provided in section one. The following question shall be placed on the warrant: "shall the town become a member of the Northern Berkshire Solid Waste District " Acceptance by a majority of those present and voting in the affirmative at said meeting shall make said town a member of the district. In the case of a city, this act may be accepted by a majority vote of the city council at a regular or special meeting called for that purpose. The provisions of this act shall not take effect until acceptance by at least two municipalities. The initial organization of the board of commissioners shall take place within thirty days after the acceptance by two or more municipalities.