Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives
in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same,
SECTION 1. Notwithstanding the provisions of any general or special law to the contrary the county of Plymouth shall be governed by the provisions of the following Home Rule Charter. If this act is accepted by the voters of Plymouth county at the state election held in the current year the county of Plymouth shall thereafter be governed by the provisions of this act: to the extent that the provisions of this act modify or are otherwise inconsistent with any special or general law the provisions of this act shall govern.
We, the people of Plymouth county, in order to gain for ourselves and for the municipalities in which we live, all of the rights, powers, privileges, duties and obligations which may now or in the future be derived from county government, to establish for ourselves and for our municipalities the means and the structure to deal with regional issues which transcend the existing boundaries of municipal governments, or which may more efficiently and effectively be dealt with on a regional basis, to improve the organization presently available for the delivery of services by our county government, and to permit and to encourage a continuing review to be made of county government to assure county services are always being provided in the most efficient and expeditious manner possible, and to secure all of these benefits for ourselves and for our posterity, do hereby ratify, approve, adopt and affirm the following as the Home Rule Charter of Plymouth county: `tuc ARTICLE 1 INCORPORATION AND POWERS
SECTION 1-1 Incorporation
Plymouth county, within the corporate limits established by law, shall continue to be a body politic and corporate for the purposes of suit, of buying and holding, for county uses, personal estate and land lying therein, and of contracting and doing other necessary acts relative to its property and affairs.
SECTION 1-2 Short Title
This instrument shall be known and may be cited as the Plymouth County Home Rule Charter.
SECTION 1-3 Powers of the County
Subject only to express limitations on the powers which may be exercised by a county government in the constitution or laws of the commonwealth, it is the intention and the purpose of the voters of Plymouth county in approving this charter to obtain for the county government all of the powers it is possible for a county government to have, to hold and to exercise under the constitution and laws of the commonwealth as fully and as completely as if each such power were specifically and individually enumerated in this charter.
It is the intent of this charter to encourage a continuing review of the functions being performed by the county government and to enable the county government to cause any duty that has been mandated to it, by law or otherwise, to be performed in the most efficient and expeditious manner possible, and without regard to the organizational, structural or personnel provisions contained in any prior law or laws.
SECTION 1-4 Construction
The grant of powers under this charter is to be construed as broadly as is consistent with the constitution and the laws of the commonwealth relating to local government. Based upon the need to develop effective services to meet problems which cross municipal boundaries, to provide sophisticated services which might be beyond the ability of a single community to support and a desire to obtain the efficiencies and economies of scale, this charter shall be construed as intended to give to the county government the power and the authority to establish programs and to perform any service, activity or undertaking for, or on behalf of, any governmental unit which said governmental unit has the legal authority to perform for itself, as such governmental unit may itself determine is in its own best interest to cause the county to perform for it, with it, or in its behalf, on a contractual basis, or otherwise.
SECTION 1-5 Intergovernmental Relations
The county government may enter into agreements with any other governmental unit, or group of such units, within or without the county, without regard to whether a governmental unit is a city, a town, a regional authority or a special district, or the state or the federal government, to perform for it, with it, or in behalf of such governmental unit any service, activity or undertaking which such governmental unit is authorized to perform for itself. The county may become the agent for any other unit or units of government including the United States and the commonwealth, in the performance of any and all functions, services, activities and undertakings for which the contracting unit determines to employ the county as its agent.
The county government shall not perform any service for a governmental unit outside of its political boundaries unless authorized to do so by the governing body of the county within which such governmental unit is located. Nothing in this section shall be construed to prohibit the county government from performing services jointly with, or for, or in cooperation with another county, by contract or otherwise.
SECTION 1-6 County Powers, Generally
Without intending to limit the generality of county powers as stated in section 1-3 of this charter the following specific powers shall be available to the county government:
(a) To organize and regulate its internal affairs through the adoption, amendment or repeal of ordinances, or the provisions of an administrative code; create, alter and abolish agencies, offices, positions and employments and define the powers, duties, responsibilities and functions thereof; establish qualifications for persons holding offices, positions and employments, provide for the manner of appointment and removal and the salary or other compensation to be paid.
(b) Adopt, amend, enforce and repeal ordinances and resolutions as provided in article 2 and subject to the provisions for initiative and referendum as contained in article 7.
(c) Construct, acquire, operate and maintain public improvements, projects or enterprises for any public purpose subject to such restrictions and limitations as are otherwise provided by law.
(d) Exercise powers of eminent domain, borrowing and taxation to the extent authorized by this charter and by law.
(e) Exercise all powers of county government in such manner as the county governing body shall determine, subject to rights of initiative and referendum contained in article 7.
(f) Sue and be sued; have a corporate seal; contract and be contracted with; buy, sell, lease, hold and dispose of real and personal property; appropriate and expend funds for county purposes.
(g) Contract with or sign agreements with other governmental units for the provision of a joint, coordinated or cooperative service or function. `tuc ARTICLE 2 LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
SECTION 2-1 Composition, Mode of Election, Term of Office
(a) Composition - The legislative powers of Plymouth county shall be exercised by a county council consisting of fifteen members. The members of the county council shall be elected by and from the voters in the fifteen districts into which the county is divided for the purpose of electing such members.
(b) Eligibility - Any voter shall be eligible to hold the office of county councillor who at the time of election has been a resident of the district from which election is sought for a period of one year or more. A county councillor who during a term of office moves from the district from which elected shall forthwith be deemed to have resigned and the office shall be declared vacant by the remaining members of the county council.
(c) Election and Term - County councillors shall be elected for terms of two years each at the biennial state election. The term of office for county councillors shall begin on the first business day in January in the year following the year in which elected and shall continue until their successors have been chosen and qualified.
SECTION 2-2 Organization; Presiding Officer, Deputy Presiding Officer
(a) Organization - The county council shall meet on the first business day in January of each odd numbered year for the purpose of organization. They shall be called to order by the member present senior in years of service on the county council, who shall preside; if two or more members have equal lengths of service the member present senior in both age and years of service shall preside. The county council shall then elect, from their own number, a president and a vice-president.
(b) President - The president shall preside at all meetings of the county council, regulate the proceedings and decide all questions of order and shall have the same right to vote on any matter coming before the county council as any other member. The president shall have such other powers, duties and responsibilities as may be provided by this charter, by ordinance or by other vote of the county council.
(c) Vice-President - The vice-president shall serve as president during the absence or disability of the president and shall have such other powers, duties and responsibilities as may be provided by this charter, by ordinance or by other vote of the county council.
SECTION 2-3 Compensation
The county council shall, by ordinance, establish an annual compensation for its members. No ordinance increasing such compensation shall be effective however unless it has been adopted during the first fifteen months of the term for which county councillors are elected and it provides that the salary increase is to become effective at the commencement of the term of the next county council to be elected.
SECTION 2-4 County Officers Chosen by County Council
As soon as practical after the county council has been organized following each election of its members, it shall elect, by ballot, for the term of office as hereafter specified, and until their successors are chosen and qualified, the following county officers:
(a) Clerk of the County Council - The clerk of the county council shall serve for a term of two years and shall give notice of all meetings of the county council to its members and to the public, keep a journal and other records of all of its proceedings and perform such other duties as may from time to time be assigned to the office of clerk of the county council by this charter, by ordinance, or by other vote of the county council. The clerk of the county council may be the county clerk.
(b) County Auditor - The county council may appoint, subject to a vote of the county council to establish the office of county auditor, and the specific appropriation of funds for the office of county auditor. If the position of county auditor is established such officer shall have general charge of the financial books and accounts of the county, shall regularly audit such books and accounts and shall have such additional powers and duties with respect to the financial affairs of the county as may from time to time be assigned to the office of county auditor by this charter, by ordinance, or by other vote of the county council.
SECTION 2-5 Powers and Duties, In General
Except as is otherwise provided by law, or this charter, all legislative powers of the county shall be vested in the county council which shall provide for the exercise of all powers and the performance of all duties imposed upon the county in a manner consistent with the provisions of this charter.
SECTION 2-6 Exercise of Powers; Quorum; Rules of Procedure
(a) Exercise of Powers - Except as is otherwise provided by this charter, or by law, the legislative powers of the county council may be exercised in a manner determined by it.
(b) Quorum - A majority of the county council shall constitute a quorum but a smaller number may meet and adjourn from time to time.
(c) Rules of Procedure The county council may from time to time establish rules for its proceedings not inconsistent with the following:
(i) regular meetings of the county council shall be held at a time and place fixed by ordinance;
(ii) except in case of emergency, special meetings of the county council shall be held at the call of the board of county commissioners (as provided in section 3-8(b)), at the call of the president, or at the call of any three or more members, by written notice, delivered in hand, or to the place of residence or business of each member at least seventy-two hours in advance of the time set and which notice shall include the subjects to be acted upon at such special meeting;
(iii) except as may otherwise be authorized by law all meetings of the county council and any committee or sub-committee thereof shall at all times be open to the public and to representatives of the communications media;
(iv) every matter which comes before the county council shall be put to a vote, the results of which shall be recorded. When requested by any member the vote shall be by roll call and the vote of each member shall be recorded in the journal;
(v) a full, accurate and up-to-date record of the proceedings of the county council shall be kept and shall be available for inspection by the public at any reasonable time.
SECTION 2-7 Prohibitions
The members of the county council shall deal with county officers and employees solely through the board of county commissioners. All contact with county employees, all actions and communications concerning county government, administrative activity and provision of services shall be solely through the board of county commissioners, except as is otherwise provided in this charter.
This section shall not prohibit the county council from conducting an inquiry into any act or problem of county administration as provided in section 2-7.
No member of the county council shall, during the term of office for which elected, or, within six months following the expiration of such term, hold any compensated appointed office, position or employment in or under the county government. This provision shall not, however, prevent a former county officer or employee who has taken a leave of absence during service on the county council from resuming such office or employment at the expiration of the term of office for which elected.
SECTION 2-8 Inquiries and Investigations
Any member of the county council may at any time request a report on any aspect of the county by making such a request, in writing, to the board of county commissioners.
The county council may require the board of county commissioners to appear before the county council sitting as a committee of the whole and to bring before the county council such records and reports, and such officials and employees of the county as the county council shall deem necessary to insure clarification of any matter under study.
The county council may summon witnesses to attend and to testify and to produce books and papers at a hearing before it, or a special committee of the county council, in the same manner and with the same penalties as are provided for other multiple member bodies by sections eight to eleven, inclusive, of chapter two hundred and thirty-three of the General Laws.
The county council may, by vote, delegate any number of its members as an ad hoc committee to consult with the board of county commissioners on any matter and to report back to the full county council with the results of such meeting.
SECTION 2-9 Resolutions
(a) Vote Requirement - Provided a quorum is present a majority vote shall be sufficient to finally adopt any resolution.
(b) Resolutions - The following matters may be provided for by resolution and shall not be deemed to require an ordinance: (i) the establishment of a municipal advisory council on any subject or subjects;
(ii) the conduct of an inquiry or an investigation;
(iii) the adoption of rules governing the conduct of its own business;
(iv) the establishment of times and places for special meetings of the county council;
(v) the establishment of the county council as a committee of the whole and the designation of its members as an ad hoc committee;
(vi) the declaration of emergencies;
(vii) the identification of emergency situations;
(viii) the election, appointment and removal of such officers and employees as the county council is permitted by this charter, or otherwise;
(ix) designation of newspapers to be used to give notice of county matters to the public; (x) approval of contracts presented by the board of county commissioners;
(xi) actions specified as resolutions;
(xii) the expression of such policies or opinions as requires no formal action.
SECTION 2-10 Ordinances
(a) Vote Requirement - Provided a quorum is present a majority vote shall be sufficient to finally adopt any ordinance.
(b) Acts Required to be by Ordinance - In addition to such other acts as this charter or any other provision of law requires to be by ordinance, the following acts of the county council are required to be by ordinance:
(i) establish, alter or abolish any county department, office or agency;
(ii) fix the compensation for the members of the county council;
(iii) provide for a fine or other penalty or establish a rule or regulation for violation of which a fine or other penalty is imposed;
(iv) make appropriations, or transfer appropriations from the account of one county agency to another;
(v) grant, renew or extend a franchise;
(vi) regulate the rate charged for any service provided to another governmental unit;
(vii) authorize, by a two-thirds vote of the full county council, the borrowing of money;
(viii) authorize the conveyance or lease of any real estate belonging to the county;
(ix) authorize bilateral or multilateral contracts with other governmental units within or without Plymouth county, for the joint performance, or for the performance by one governmental unit on behalf of the other, or others, of any governmental function or activity;
(x) adopt, with or without amendment, ordinances proposed by voters in accordance with the initiative procedures as provided in Article 7;
(xi) authorize the taking of any land by purchase or by the use of eminent domain;
(xii) amend or repeal any ordinance previously adopted.
(c) Form - Every proposed ordinance shall be introduced in writing and in the form required for final adoption. The enacting clause shall be: "Plymouth county hereby ordains:".
(d) Procedures - A proposed ordinance may be introduced by any member of the county council, or by the board of county commissioners, at any regular or special meeting of the county council.
The clerk of the county council shall forthwith distribute copies of the proposal to each member present and to any member of the board of county commissioners, present. After an ordinance has been introduced and unless it is rejected at the same meeting by the affirmative votes of not less than three-fourths of the full membership, the county council shall promptly cause the proposed ordinance to be published together with a notice stating the time and place at which a public hearing will be held on consideration of the proposal.
(e) Public Hearing - The public hearing on any proposed ordinance shall follow the required publication by at least two weeks. At the public hearing copies of the proposed ordinance shall be available for distribution to interested persons and all persons present shall be given the opportunity to be heard.
(f) Action by County Council - The county council may adopt, with or without amendment, or reject, any proposed ordinance following the public hearing.
(g) Publication of Adopted Ordinances - As soon as practicable following adoption of any ordinance it shall be printed and published.
(h) Time of Taking Effect - Except as otherwise provided by this charter every adopted ordinance shall take effect on the thirty-first day following its adoption, unless a later date is specified in the ordinance.
(i) Published, Defined - As used in this section the term "published" means:
(1) that at least a brief summary of the proposed ordinance or adopted ordinance, has been published along with public notice that a public hearing is to be held in local newspapers;
(2) that copies of the proposed ordinance or adopted ordinance have been distributed to the clerks of every city and town in the county;
(3) that a reasonable number of copies of the proposed ordinance have been printed for free distribution to any interested person requesting the same, or in the case of an adopted ordinance, for sale, at a cost not to exceed the actual cost thereof to persons requesting the same.
SECTION 2-11 Emergency Ordinances
The county council, in appropriate circumstances to meet a public emergency affecting life, health or property, may adopt emergency ordinances. No emergency ordinance shall be used to levy taxes; to grant, renew or extend a franchise; to regulate the rate charged for any service; or to authorize the borrowing of any money.
Emergency ordinances shall be submitted in the same manner as other proposed ordinances, but, every emergency measure shall be plainly designated as such and shall contain a preamble, which shall be separately voted upon, which declares that an emergency exists and which describes the emergency in clear and specific terms.
The affirmative vote of two-thirds of the full membership shall be necessary to adopt any emergency ordinance.
Every emergency ordinance shall become effective upon its adoption and shall automatically stand repealed on the sixty-first day following its adoption.
SECTION 2-12 Filling of Vacancies
If a vacancy shall occur in the office of county councillor during the first fifteen months of the term for which county councillors are elected the clerk of the county council shall, not less than fourteen nor more than twenty-eight days following the date on which public notice of the existence of the vacancy was given, convene a convention of the chief executive officers of each municipality represented by such councillor district. The said chief executives shall fill such vacancy by casting votes in the same proportion the population of their community represents to the population of the district in which the vacancy exists.
If a vacancy shall occur in the office of county councillor after the first fifteen months of the term for which county councillors are elected, such vacancy shall not be filled, as above. The person elected at the next regular election shall, forthwith, subscribe to the oath of office and shall, in addition to the term for which elected, serve for the balance of the then unexpired term. `tuc ARTICLE 3 EXECUTIVE BRANCH
SECTION 3-1 Board of County Commissioners
(a) Composition, Term of Office - There shall be a board of county commissioners consisting of five members elected by the voters for terms of four years each, so arranged that as nearly an equal a number of such terms as is possible shall expire each year. The provisions of section one hundred fifty-eight of chapter fifty-four of the General Laws shall apply to such election.
(b) Compensation - The county council shall, by ordinance, establish an annual salary for the members of the board of county commissioners. The salary shall be reasonable and commensurate with the duties of the office and may not be lowered during the tenure of an incumbent. No ordinance changing the salary for members of the board of county commissioners shall be effective unless it has been adopted during the first fifteen months of the term for which county delegates are elected and it provides the new rate of compensation is to be effective upon the reorganization of the board of county commissioners following an election for that office.
(c) Organization - The board of county commissioners shall meet to organize on the first business day of January annually and shall choose a chairperson and a vice-chairperson to serve for a term of one year.
SECTION 3-2 Executive Powers
The executive powers of the county shall be vested solely in the board of county commissioners and may be exercised either directly by such board, or through the several county agencies under its direction and supervision. The board of county commissioners shall cause this charter, the laws and the ordinances and orders for the government and administration of the county to be enforced.
The board of county commissioners shall exercise a general supervision and direction over all county agencies, unless otherwise provided by law. Each county agency shall furnish to the board of county commissioners, forthwith when so requested, any information, materials or otherwise as the board of county commissioners may request and as the needs of that office and the interest of the county may require.
The board of county commissioners may authorize the county administrator or any subordinate officer or employee of the county to exercise any power, function or duty assigned by this charter to the board of county commissioners provided, however, that all acts which are performed under any such delegation shall be deemed to be the acts of the board of county commissioners.
SECTION 3-3 Powers and Duties
The board of county commissioners shall have, possess and may exercise all the powers, rights and duties commonly associated with the office of chief executive and chief administrative officer of a local governmental unit. The powers and duties of the board of county commissioners shall include, but are not limited to, the following:
(a) prepare and submit to the county council for its consideration and adoption an annual operating budget, and a capital outlay budget, as provided in Article 5;
(b) establish the schedules and procedures to be followed by all county departments, offices and agencies in connection with their budgets and supervise and administer all phases of the budgetary process following adoption of the budget by the county council and throughout the fiscal year;
(c) supervise the care and custody of all county property, institutions and agencies;
(d) supervise the collection of all county revenues and the disbursement of all county funds;
(e) supervise the selection of the depositories for all county funds;
(f) keep the county council and the public fully informed as to the financial and administrative condition of the county;
(g) make at any time such recommendations to the county council for actions required to be taken by it as the board of county commissioners deems necessary for the improvement of the county and the welfare of its residents;
(h) sign all contracts, bonds or other instruments requiring the consent of the county;
(i) review, analyze and forecast trends of county services, programs and finances and make such recommendations to the department heads and other personnel affected as the board of county commissioners shall deem necessary, desirable or expedient;
(j) at any time to inquire into the conduct of office or performance of duty of any county officer, department head or employee; and
(k) to be responsible for the conduct of all negotiations with county employees concerning wages, hours and other conditions of employment and the execution of all contracts relating thereto.
SECTION 3-4 Appointments by Board of County Commissioners
The board of county commissioners shall appoint and in appropriate circumstances may remove, subject to the provisions of any collective bargaining agreements as may be applicable, all county officers, department heads, members of multiple member bodies and all county employees for whom no other method of selection is provided by this charter.
SECTION 3-5 Temporary Appointments to County Office
Whenever any vacancy occurs in a county office whether temporary or permanent and the needs of the county require that such office be filled, the board of county commissioners may designate the head of some other county office or agency or a county officer or employee to perform the duties of the office on a temporary or acting basis until such time as the incumbent resumes the duties of the office or the position has been filled in the manner provided by this charter, or by county ordinance.
SECTION 3-6 Communications: Special Meetings
(a) Communications to County Council - Annually, at the first regular business meeting of the county council held in each calendar year the board of county commissioners shall in person, or in writing, submit to the county council a report on the state of the county including an indication of such plans and proposals for changes in county programs and services as the board of county commissioners intends to propose during the ensuing year. The board of county commissioners shall, from time to time throughout the year, in person, or in writing, submit to the county council specific proposals to be considered for adoption by the county council as the board of county commissioners deems to be necessary or desirable.
(b) Special Meetings of the County Council - The board of county commissioners may at any time and for any purpose call a special meeting of the county council by causing a notice of such meeting to be delivered in hand or to the place of residence or of business of each member of the county council. Except in cases of special emergency, of which the board of county commissioners shall be the sole judge, such notice shall be delivered at least seventy-two hours in advance of the time set and public notice shall be given as otherwise required by this charter or by law.
SECTION 3-7 Approval of the Board of County Commissioners, Exception
Every order, ordinance, resolution or other vote of the county council pertaining to the business and affairs of the county (but not including matters relating to the internal affairs of the county council or resolutions merely stating an opinion of the county council) shall forthwith following its adoption be presented to the board of county commissioners. If the board of county commissioners approves of such measure the signatures of a majority of the members of the board of county commissioners shall be affixed to said proposal and it shall be deemed to be in effect. If the board of county commissioners disapproves of such measure the board of county commissioners shall within ten days following its adoption by the county council return the measure to the county council with specific reasons for such disapproval, in writing, attached thereto.
The county council shall upon receipt of notice of disapproval from the board of county commissioners forthwith reconsider the measure. If the county council shall, notwithstanding the objections of the board of county commissioners, by a two-thirds vote of its membership, taken by roll call vote, again pass the measure the measure shall be deemed to be in effect.
If the board of county commissioners has not signed nor returned a measure adopted by the county council to it within ten days following its adoption said measure shall be deemed to be in effect at the expiration of such time notwithstanding such failure by the board of county commissioners. If the county council has not acted upon a message of disapproval filed with it by the board of county commissioners within fourteen days of such filing the measure shall be deemed to have been rejected by the county council at the expiration of such period.
SECTION 3-8 Vacancy in Office of Board of County Commissioners
If a vacancy occurs in the office of member of the board of county commissioners during the term for which a member is chosen the county council shall order the office to be filled at the next regularly scheduled state election to be held one hundred and twenty or more days following the date such vacancy occurs.
Forthwith when a vacancy in the office of board of county commissioners occurs the chairperson of the county council, notwithstanding the provisions of section one hundred and fifty-eight of chapter fifty-four of the General Laws, shall be deemed to be an acting member of the board of county commissioners and shall serve in such office until a successor is chosen at the next state election. Upon the election of a successor by the voters such person shall forthwith assume the duties of the office and shall serve as a member of the board of county commissioners for the period between the election and the organization of the government on the first business day in January following, in addition to the term for which elected. Nothing in this section shall be deemed to prevent the person serving as acting member of the board of county commissioners from being a candidate for the office of county commissioner.
Whenever the chairperson of the county council becomes an acting member of the board of county commissioners under this section a vacancy shall be deemed to exist in the council district from which said council chairperson was elected which shall be filled in the manner provided in section 2-12.
SECTION 3-9 County Administrator, Qualifications, Term of Office; Compensation
(a) Appointment, Qualifications, Term of Office - The board of county commissioners may appoint a county administrator, who shall be appointed by majority vote of the full board of county commissioners to serve for an indefinite term. The county administrator shall be a person especially fitted by education, training and experience in public administration to perform the duties of the office. The county administrator need not be a resident of Plymouth county at the time of appointment to the office but, unless excused therefrom by vote of the board of county commissioners, the county administrator shall establish a residence in the county within a reasonable time. The county administrator shall devote full time to the office and shall hold no other public office elected or appointed, nor be actively engaged in any other business, occupation or profession while serving as county administrator.
The county administrator shall perform such duties as may be provided for such office by ordinance or the provisions of an administrative code.
`tuc ARTICLE 4 ADMINISTRATIVE ORGANIZATION
SECTION 4-1 Elected County Officers
A. IN GENERAL
Notwithstanding their direct election by the voters, the officers named in this section shall be subject to the call of the board of county commissioners at all reasonable times for consultation, conference or discussion for the purpose of coordination of the business of the county.
In the event a vacancy shall occur in any office filled by the voters under this section, the board of county commissioners, subject to the approval of the county council, shall appoint a suitable person to serve until the next biennial state election at which time the office shall be filled by the voters for the regular term of years.
B. COUNTY TREASURER
There shall be a county treasurer elected by the voters of Plymouth county for a term of six years. The county treasurer, at the time of election, and at all times during the term of office for which elected, shall be and shall remain a Plymouth county voter.
The county treasurer shall receive and take charge of all funds belonging to the county and shall pay out and account for the same according to the order of authorized officers of the county.
The county treasurer shall have all of the other powers and duties which are given to county treasurers by the General Laws, and such additional powers and duties as may be provided by county ordinance or administrative code.
C. REGISTER OF DEEDS
There shall be a register of deeds who shall be elected by and from the voters of Plymouth county for a term of six years and who shall at the time of election and at all times during the term for which elected remain a registered voter of Plymouth county.
The register of deeds shall have general charge and superintendence of the registry of deeds for the county and all of the books, records, deeds and papers belonging thereto. The register of deeds for Plymouth county shall have all of the powers, and duties which are given to registers of deeds by the General Laws and such other powers and duties as may be provided by county ordinance or administrative code.
D. COUNTY SHERIFF
There shall be a county sheriff elected as provided by law.
The county sheriff shall have the general care and superintendence of all jails and houses of correction maintained or kept by the county. The county sheriff shall have all of the other powers and duties which are given to county sheriffs by the General Laws and such additional powers and duties as may be provided by county ordinance or administrative code.
SECTION 4-2 Appointed County Officers
A. IN GENERAL
The activities under the direction and supervision of the board of county commissioners shall be distributed among such departments, offices and agencies as are established by this charter, or as may be established by ordinance, or by administrative code not inconsistent with this charter.
Every department, office and agency of the county shall be headed by an officer appointed by and subject to the direction and supervision of the board of county commissioners. With the consent of the county council, the board of county commissioners may appoint the county administrator to serve as the head of any office, department or agency of the county. With the consent of the county council, the board of county commissioners may appoint the same person to serve as the head of two or more departments, offices or agencies of the county.
The board of county commissioners may appoint, from time to time, one or more qualified citizens to serve as advisors to the board of county commissioners or to any department, office or agency of the county.
B. CHARTER DEPARTMENTS
(a) Personnel Department
A personnel department shall be established in order to assure that all appointments and promotions to or in the county service be based upon merit and fitness and with due regard for providing equal employment opportunities to all persons. Merit and fitness shall be determined, insofar as practicable, by competitive testing and by the evaluation of other measures of suitability based on education, training, ability and experience.
(b) Office of the County Clerk
There shall be a county clerk, appointed by the board of county commissioners to serve for a term of three years. The county clerk shall be a person especially qualified by education, training and experience to perform the duties of the office. The county clerk may be the same person appointed as clerk of the county council pursuant to section 2-4(a) of this charter.
The office of the county clerk shall serve as the chief records keeper for the county, shall serve as clerk of the county council, shall coordinate the sending of all notices and other correspondence from the county to the several cities and towns within the county and shall receive all notices and other official correspondence from the cities and towns directed to the county, shall coordinate and supervise all election and election related matters affecting the county with the city and town clerks, boards of registrars of voters, election commissions and other local officers performing similar duties.
The office of county clerk shall perform and may exercise such other powers and duties as may be assigned by this charter, by ordinance or by other vote of the county council.
C. ADMINISTRATIVE ORGANIZATION
1. Organization of County Agencies
The organization of the county into operating agencies for the provision of services and the administration of the government may be accomplished through either of the methods provided in this section.
(a) Ordinances - Subject only to an express prohibition in a general law or this charter, the county council may, by ordinance, reorganize, consolidate or abolish, create, merge or divide, alter the term of office, the manner of selection or, if a multiple member body, the number of members of any county agency, in whole or in part, establish new county agencies and may prescribe the functions, powers, duties and responsibilities of any such county agency.
(b) Executive Reorganizations - The board of county commissioners, after consultation with the county administrator and the department, office or agency affected, may, from time to time, prepare and submit to the county council plans of organization or reorganization for county administration. Whenever the board of county commissioners prepares such a plan they shall, in conjunction with the department, office or agency affected, hold one or more public hearings on such proposal, giving notice by publication in a local newspaper of the date, time and place of the public hearing and the scope of the proposal.
The board of county commissioners shall, following such hearing provide for the submission of the proposed organizational plan, which may be amended or revised as a result of information developed at the public hearing to be submitted to the county council. Said plan shall become effective at the expiration of sixty days following the date of its submission to the county council unless the county council has sooner adopted it or has rejected it by a majority vote. In acting upon the administrative code the county council may act only to approve or to disapprove of the plan and may not vote to amend it in any way.
2. Table of Organization
The board of county commissioners shall prepare, maintain and keep current an organization chart which includes a listing of the personnel staffing requirements for each county department, office and agency.
3. Publication of Administrative Code and Table of Organization
For the convenience of the public, the administrative code, as amended, shall be published as an appendix to any publication of the county ordinances. The table of organization shall be published annually in the proposed budget submitted by the board of county commissioners. `tuc ARTICLE 5 FISCAL PROCEDURES
SECTION 5-1 Fiscal Year
The fiscal year of Plymouth county shall begin on the first day of July and shall end on the thirtieth day of June, unless another provision is made by general law.
SECTION 5-2 Submission of Proposed Budget
Every county agency or department shall submit to the county administrator (if any), its requested annual budget on or before the date designated by the board of county commissioners. If there is no county administrator the submission shall be made to the county commissioners. The county administrator (if any) shall prepare a draft budget and submit the same to the board of county commissioners for its review on or before the date designated by the board of county commissioners. Within a time fixed by ordinance, the board of county commissioners shall submit to the county council a proposed budget for the ensuing fiscal year, with an accompanying budget message and supporting documents. The board of county commissioners shall simultaneously provide a general summary of the proposed budget to be made available to representatives of the communications media and shall cause a legal notice to be published in at least three local newspapers published in the county, indicating the times and places at which complete copies of the proposed budget and accompanying materials are available for inspection by the public.
SECTION 5-3 Budget Message
The budget message submitted by the board of county commissioners shall explain the proposed budget for all county agencies, both in fiscal terms and in terms of work programs. It shall outline proposed financial policies of the county for the ensuing fiscal year; describe important features of the proposed budget; indicate any major variations from the current budget in financial policies, expenditures and revenues, together with the reasons for such changes; summarize the county's debt position; and it shall include such additional information as the board of county commissioners deems desirable or the county council may reasonably require. `t+99
SECTION 5-4 The Proposed Budget
The proposed budget shall provide a complete financial plan of all county funds and activities. Except as may otherwise be required by general law or by the charter, it shall be in the form the board of county commissioners deems desirable, or as the county council may reasonably require. In the presentation of the proposed budget the board of county commissioners shall make use of modern concepts of fiscal presentation so as to furnish a maximum amount of information and the best financial controls. The budget shall be arranged to show actual and estimated income and expenditures for the previous, current, and ensuing fiscal year and shall indicate, in separate sections:
(a) proposed expenditures for current operations during the ensuing fiscal year, detailed by county agency, function and work programs, and the proposed methods of financing such expenditures;
(b) proposed capital expenditures during the ensuing fiscal year, detailed by county agency, and the proposed methods of financing such expenditures; and
(c) estimated surplus revenue and free cash at the end of the current fiscal year, including estimated balances in any special accounts established for specific purposes.
SECTION 5-5 Action on the Proposed Budget
(a) Public Hearing - The county council shall, within thirty days after receipt of the proposed budget, provide for the publication in a local newspaper of a notice stating the date, time and place, not less than seven nor more than fourteen days following such publication, when a public hearing will be held by the county council, or a committee of the county council, on the proposed budget.
(b) Review - The county council shall consider, in open public meetings, the detailed expenditures proposed for each county agency and may confer with representatives of any county agency in connection with its review and consideration. The county council may require the board of county commissioners, or any other county agency through the board of county commissioners, to furnish it with such additional information as it may deem necessary to assist it in its review of the proposed budget.
(c) Action by County Council - The county council shall adopt a budget for the ensuing fiscal year not later than the first day of June in the preceding fiscal year. In acting upon the budget the county council may increase or decrease any item contained in the proposed budget as submitted by the board of county commissioners except any sums required for debt service or other obligations of the county; provided, however, that the budget as adopted is in balance and that revenue sources equal or exceed the total amount voted to be expended. If the county council has not adopted a budget on or before the first day of June in any year the proposed budget as submitted by the board of county commissioners shall be deemed to be in effect and the sums as provided in the said budget shall be available for the purposes indicated.
SECTION 5-6 Capital Improvement Program
The board of county commissioners shall submit a capital improvement program to the county council at least thirty days prior to the date fixed by ordinance for the submission of the proposed operating budget. The capital improvement program shall include, but need not be limited to the following:
(a) clear, concise, general summary of its contents;
(b) listing of all capital expenditures proposed to be made, by years, during the five fiscal years next ensuing, with supporting information as to the need for each such expenditure;
(c) cost estimates, methods of financing and recommended time schedules; and
(d) the estimated annual cost of operating and maintaining any new facility or piece of major equipment involved;
The information is to be annually revised with regard to all items still pending, or in the process of being acquired, improved or constructed.
SECTION 5-7 Audit
An independent audit of the county's finances shall be performed at intervals not greater than two years, by a certified public accounting firm with experience in municipal and other public agency audits, chosen by the county council. `tuc ARTICLE 6 JOINT PERFORMANCE OF FUNCTIONS
SECTION 6-1 Purpose
Units of local government shall be encouraged to make the most effective and efficient use of their powers and their resources and may cooperate with one another, through the county, to provide services and facilities in a manner that will best serve geographic, economic, population, and other factors and without regard for any existing political boundaries.
The term "service function" as used in this article is intended to mean any local government service, or group of closely allied local governmental services performed by a unit of local government for its inhabitants and for which, under constitutional and statutory provisions and judicial interpretation, units of local government, as distinguished from the state government, have the primary responsibility to provide and to finance. For the purpose of illustration only, and without in any way intending to limit the foregoing, the following are current examples of some local service functions:
1) public works, including street and road layout, construction and maintenance; dredging of channels and harbors;
2) refuse and garbage removal, collection and disposal;
3) public health services;
4) building inspection, including, wire, gas and plumbing inspections;
5) water supply, treatment and distribution;
6) sewage collection, treatment and disposal;
7) police, fire and other public safety services;
8) parks, playgrounds and other recreation related facilities and programs;
9) assessment of real and personal property;
10) planning and zoning;
The term "unit of local government" means Plymouth county or any city or town government or any special purpose district, including sewer or water districts in Plymouth county.
SECTION 6-2 Interlocal Contracts
(a) Scope - The county may contract with any unit of local government to provide for such unit any local service function which the unit of local government is authorized to perform, provided that such contract shall be first ratified or approved by the legislative body of such unit of local government.
(b) Contents of Agreements - Every contract entered into by the county for the provision of services to units of local government shall contain at least the following provisions:
1) its duration or other term;
2) the precise organization, composition, and nature of any administrative entity established for the purpose of overseeing the delivery of any such service function;
3) the exact nature of the service, activity, undertaking or function which is to be provided;
4) the manner of financing, establishing and maintaining a budget and of accounting and other record keeping requirements;
5) the method by which amendments to the agreement are to be proposed and adopted, including provision for complete or partial recision or termination of the agreement;
6) the manner by which any materials, supplies or other property acquired during the period of the agreement are to be distributed in the event of a termination; and may contain
7) any other necessary or proper matters to such an agreement.
(c) Appropriations, etc. - Any unit of local government entering into an agreement pursuant to this section may appropriate funds and may sell, lease, give, or otherwise supply or make available to the administrative entity charged with oversight of the service function, personnel, services, materials, supplies including real or personal property, as may be mutually agreeable to the parties.
SECTION 6-3 Transfer of Functions
Whenever two or more units of local government in Plymouth county shall determine, by the adoption of substantially similar resolutions of their legislative bodies that duplication exists in the operations, procedures or functions of such units, or that such operations, procedures or functions can more effectively and efficiently be exercised or provided as a consolidated activity performed by a single intergovernmental office or agency, such units of local government are hereby authorized to petition the county council to provide for the establishment of a single office or agency in which to consolidate any or all of the operations, procedures, functions performed or carried out by such individual offices or agencies.
The county council shall review all such petitions as are received by it requesting the establishment of a consolidated office or agency to provide a local service function and shall, in conjunction with designated representatives of the units of local government concerned, act to develop such consolidated agency as in each particular circumstance best meets the needs of the units concerned.
Except when otherwise specifically provided in the resolutions adopted by the respective legislative bodies in the transfer of a power or function from a unit of local government to a consolidated agency or office such consolidated office or agency shall be the successor in every way to the powers, duties, functions and obligations now or hereafter granted to or imposed by law upon the offices and agencies thus consolidated.
The ordinance establishing a consolidated office or agency for any two or more units of local government shall be substantially in conformity with the provisions of section 6-2.
Before any such consolidation shall become effective the ordinance as finally adopted by the county council shall be presented to the legislative bodies of the affected units of local government for acceptance.
SECTION 6-4 Subordinate Service Areas
(a) Creation by County Council - The county council may establish a subordinate service area in any portion of the county by adoption of an appropriate ordinance as a response to the provision of services to any two or more units of local government either by contract or by consolidation.
The ordinance shall specify the service or services to be provided, the territorial boundaries and the manner in which such service area is to be governed or administered.
(b) Creation by Petition - A petition signed by one per cent of the voters in each of two or more units of local government in the county may be presented to the county council requesting the establishment of a subordinate service area comprised of the said units of local government for the provision of a particular service or services.
Upon receipt of a petition on which the signatures of voters have been verified by the board of registrars of voters in the units concerned, the county council shall hold a public hearing on the question of whether or not such subordinate service area shall be established.
Within thirty days following the adjournment of the public hearing the county council shall approve or disapprove the establishment of the requested subordinate service area. An ordinance providing for such subordinate service area may differ from the petition as originally presented, but no ordinance establishing such a subordinate service area shall become effective until it shall have been approved by the legislative bodies in the communities concerned. `tuc ARTICLE 7 `tuc MUNICIPAL PETITIONS, CITIZEN INITIATIVES, REFERENDUM, RECALL
SECTION 7-1 Municipal Petitions
The county council shall hold a public hearing and act finally on every petition which is submitted to it which has been approved or otherwise endorsed by the legislative body of any city or town in the county. The public hearing shall be held within six weeks following the date the petition is submitted to the county clerk and the final vote on the petition shall be taken within six weeks following adjournment of the public hearing. Hearings on two or more petitions filed under this section may be held at the same time and place. In addition to notice by publication as otherwise required, the county clerk shall give at least fourteen days notice of the public hearing to the city or town clerk of the community having filed the same.
SECTION 7-2 Citizens Initiative Measures
(a) Commencement - Initiative procedures may be commenced by the filing of an initiative petition with the county clerk. The petition shall be addressed to the county council and shall contain a request for the passage of a particular measure which shall be set out in said petition or by attachment to the said petition. The petition shall be signed by not less than three per cent of the total number of voters of the county as of the date of the most recent state election; provided, however, not more than twenty-five per cent of the signatures shall be from any one district into which the county is divided for electing members of the county council. Signatures to the said petition need not all be on one paper but all such papers pertaining to one petition shall be fastened together and shall be filed as one instrument with the county clerk. When presented to the county clerk the petitions shall have been certified by the boards of registrars of voters of each city and town in which collected. The board of registrars of voters in each municipality in which such petition forms are filed shall, within seven days following their submission, certify the signatures which are the names of the voters in their respective municipality.
(b) Referral to County Legal Officer - If the county clerk shall have verified the initiative petition has been filed by a sufficient number of voters a copy of the particular measure contained in the said petition shall forthwith be directed to the office of the county legal officer. Within ten days following receipt of the copy of the said measure the county legal officer shall, in writing, advise the county council whether the measure as proposed may validly be proposed by the initiative process and whether such measure may lawfully be adopted by the county council. If the opinion of the county legal officer is that the measure does not qualify for the initiative procedure, or that the measure may not lawfully be adopted by the county council the reasons for such opinion shall be stated in full and a copy of the said opinion shall be furnished to the committee designated on said petition as having filed the same.
(c) Action on Petition - Within thirty days following the date a petition has been returned to the county council by the county legal officer having been found by such officer to be conformable to law, the county council shall act with respect to such petition by adopting the same or by adopting a measure which is stated to be in lieu thereof, or by rejecting it. The passage of a measure which is stated to be in lieu thereof shall be deemed a rejection. If the county council has failed to act on such measure within the said thirty days it shall be deemed to have been rejected on the said thirtieth day. If an initiative measure is rejected the county clerk shall forthwith give notice of such fact in writing to the committee designated as having filed the same.
(d) Supplementary Petitions - Within forty-five days following the date of the notice given by the county clerk to the petitioners committee a supplementary initiative petition may be submitted to the county council. The supplementary initiative petition shall be signed by a number of additional voters which is at least equal to one per cent of the total number of persons registered to vote in the county as of the date of the most recent state election; provided, however, that not more than twenty-five per cent of the signatures shall be from any one municipality into which the county is divided. Signatures to the said supplementary petition need not all be on one paper but all such papers pertaining to one petition shall be fastened together and shall be filed as one instrument with the county clerk. When presented to the county clerk, the petitions shall have been certified by the boards of registrars of voters of each municipality in which collected. The board of registrars of voters in each municipality in which such petition forms are filed shall, within seven days following their submission, certify the signatures which are the names of voters in their respective municipality. If the number of signatures is deemed to be sufficient the county council shall make provision for the submission of the question to the voters at the next biennial state election occurring ninety or more days following the date of the certificate that the petitions do contain the names of at least one per cent of the voters of the county and that a valid supplementary petition has been filed.
(e) Publication - The full text of the proposed measure shall be printed and distributed by the county council to each residence in the county known to contain one or more registered voters not less than two weeks prior to the date of the election at which the question will be voted upon.
(f) Form of Ballot Question - The ballots used when voting on a measure proposed by voters shall contain a question in substantially the following form:
"Shall the following measure which was proposed by an initiative petition of voters take effect "
(Insert here the text of the measure, or, a fair, concise summary of the proposed measure prepared by the county legal officer.)
(g) Time of Taking Effect - If a majority of the votes cast on the question is in the affirmative the measure shall be deemed to be effective immediately, unless a later date is specified in the measure.
SECTION 7-3 Citizen Referendum Procedures
(a) Referendum Petition, Effect on Final Approval - Within twenty-one days following the date on which the county council has given final approval to any measure a petition signed by a number of voters equal to not less than one per cent of the total number of persons registered to vote in the county as of the date of the most recent state election may be filed with the county clerk protesting against such measure or any part thereof from taking effect. The county council shall forthwith following receipt of such a petition reconsider such measure or part thereof, and if such measure or part thereof is not then rescinded, the taking effect of such measure shall be suspended pending the submission of the same to the voters. The county council shall submit the same to the voters at the next regular state election.
(b) Certain Initiative Procedures to Apply - The petition described in this section shall be termed a referendum petition and insofar as applicable the procedures described in section 7-2 shall apply in respect thereto except that the words "measure or part thereof" shall be understood to replace the words "proposed measure" in said section and the word "referendum" shall be deemed to replace the word "initiative" where it may occur.
SECTION 7-4 Excluded Matters
The following matters shall not be deemed to be within the scope of the provisions for citizen initiative and referendum: (1) proceedings relating to the internal organization or operation of the county council; (2) an ordinance passed in conformity with section 2-9; (3) the county budget as a whole; (4) a revenue loan order; or, (5) any appropriation for the payment of any county debt or other obligation.
SECTION 7-5 Submission of Other Measures to Voters
The county council may, on its own motion, submit to the voters of the county for adoption or rejection at any regular state election any proposed measure, or a proposition for the repeal or amendment of any measure, in the same manner and with the same force and effect as is provided in this article for submission by petition.
SECTION 7-6 Recall of County Officers
(1) Application - Any person who holds an elected county office, with more than thirty-two months remaining of the term of office at the time of the filing of the application, may be recalled from the office by the voters in the manner provided in this section.
(2) Recall Petitions - One hundred and fifty or more voters may file with the county clerk an application for a recall election which shall consist of an affidavit containing the name of the officer whose recall is sought and a statement of the grounds for recall. If the officer is elected from the county at large the signatures on such applications shall contain the names of at least twenty-five voters in any six communities within the county; if the officer is elected from any district into which the county is divided the signatures on such applications shall contain the names of at least twenty-five voters from any six precincts within the said district. When submitted to the county clerk the signatures shall bear the certification of the registrars of voters of the city or town in which collected that they are the names of voters in said city or town.
The county clerk shall certify such applications with regard to the sufficiency and validity within seven days and shall thereupon deliver to the ten persons first named on such applications, petition blanks demanding said recall, printed forms of which the county clerk shall keep available. The blanks may be completed by printing or typewriting; they shall be addressed to the county council; they shall contain the names of the ten persons to whom they are issued and the grounds for recall as stated in the affidavit; they shall demand the election of a successor to the office; they shall be dated and signed by the county clerk. The recall petitions shall be returned to the office of the county clerk within twenty days following the date they are issued, signed by at least fifteen per cent of the total number of persons registered to vote in the county as of the date of the most recent state election if the officer is elected at large and by fifteen per cent of the total number of persons registered to vote in the district as of the date of the most recent state election if the officer is elected from a district.
The county clerk shall within three days following such filing, submit the petitions to the board of registrars of voters in the several cities and towns from which collected which boards of registrars of voters shall within five days thereafter certify thereon the number of signatures which are the names of voters.
(3) Recall Elections - The county clerk shall review the petitions as certified by the registrars of voters of the several cities and towns and if the county clerk determines that collectively the petitions are sufficient, the county clerk shall forthwith submit the same with a certificate so stating to the county council, a copy of which shall simultaneously be filed by said county clerk with the office of the secretary of the commonwealth. Upon its receipt of the certified petition, the county council shall forthwith give notice, in writing, of said petition to the officer whose recall is sought. If said officer does not resign from office within five days following delivery of the said notice, the county council shall order a question relating to the recall of such officer to appear on the ballot at the next regular state election which is to be held at least one hundred and fifty days following the date of the certification by the town clerk that the recall petition is sufficient. A copy of said vote of the county council shall, forthwith upon its adoption, be filed by the county clerk with the office of the secretary of the commonwealth. If a vacancy occurs in the office after a recall election has been ordered, the election shall nevertheless proceed as provided in this section, but only the ballots for candidates need be counted.
(4) Nomination of Candidates - An officer sought to be recalled may be a candidate to succeed to the same office and, unless the officer requests otherwise, in writing, the county clerk shall place the name of the officer on the ballot without nomination. Notwithstanding any other provision of law to the contrary, the nomination of other candidates for the office shall be by nomination papers, in conformity with the provisions of law relating to nomination of persons for the same office when it is otherwise to be filled at an election except that the time for the filing of such papers with the office of the secretary shall be on or before the first Wednesday in August. The names of candidates shall appear only on the ballot used at the state election and in conjunction with the recall question, as provided below, and candidates shall not be nominated at the state primary election.
(5) Propositions on the Ballot - The ballots used at an election at which a question relating to the recall of a county officer is to be submitted to the voters shall be substantially the following form:
For the recall of (insert name) present county (insert name of office)
Against the recall of (insert name) present county (insert name of office)
Adjacent to each proposition shall appear a place to vote for either of said propositions. Following said propositions on the ballot shall appear the word "candidates" and the names of candidates to succeed to the office if a majority of the votes cast upon said propositions is in the affirmative. The names of candidates shall be arranged as otherwise provided by law.
If a majority of the votes cast are in favor of the recall of the officer, the officer shall be deemed to be recalled and the candidate receiving the higher number of votes for the office shall be declared to be elected as successor to the office, to serve for the balance of the then unexpired term.
(6) Officeholder - The incumbent shall continue to hold office and perform the duties until the recall election. If not then recalled, the officer shall continue in office for the remainder of the unexpired term, subject to recall as provided in paragraph (7).
If the officer is recalled, the office shall be deemed vacant upon the certification of the election results. The candidate who receives the highest number of votes shall serve for the balance of the unexpired term.
(7) Repeat of Recall Petition - No recall shall be filed against an officer within six months after taking office, or in the case of an officer subjected to a recall election and not recalled thereby, until at least six months after the election at which the recall was submitted to the voters.
(8) Notice to Secretary of Commonwealth - Whenever, pursuant to the provisions of this article relating to initiative and referendum and recall the county council intends that a question is to appear on the state election ballot the county clerk shall at the earliest possible date, but not later than the first Wednesday in August in an even numbered year, notify the office of the secretary of the commonwealth of the pendency of such question, or questions, and the form in which such question or questions are to appear on such ballots. `tuc ARTICLE 8 ELECTION RELATED MATTERS
SECTION 8-1 Elections
The regular elections for county offices shall be held in conjunction with the biennial state election.
SECTION 8-2 Application of State Election Laws
Except as is expressly provided in this charter all county elections shall be in conformity with and shall be governed by the laws of the commonwealth relating to the right to vote, the registration of voters, the nomination of candidates, the conduct of preliminary or primary elections, special elections and regular elections, the submission of propositions to the voters, the counting of votes and the declaration of results.
SECTION 8-3 Nominations
The nomination of candidates for nomination at state primaries shall be by nomination papers. In the case of candidates for the office of county commissioner, county treasurer or register of deeds the nomination papers shall be signed in the aggregate by at least one thousand voters of the county.
In the case of candidates for the office of county councillor the nomination papers shall be signed in the aggregate by at least fifty voters of the district from which election is sought. Elections for the office of county councillor shall be non partisan and the names of candidates shall not appear on the ballot at the state primary election. All persons who have filed nomination papers having in the aggregate the names of fifty or more registered voters shall be entitled to have their names appear on the ballot at the general election.
The office of the secretary of the commonwealth shall supply candidates for county office with nomination papers and shall issue certificates of nomination to candidates through the office of the county clerk.
Every nomination paper for a candidate for county councillor shall be submitted to the registrars of voters of the municipality where the signers appear to be voters on or before five o'clock post meridian on the twenty-eighth day preceding the day on which it must be filed with the county clerk. Nomination papers shall be filed by the candidate with the county clerk on or before the eleventh Tuesday preceding the day of election. The county clerk shall certify a correct list of candidates to the secretary of the commonwealth on or before the tenth Tuesday preceding the day of election. If the secretary of the commonwealth shall fail to receive said certified list of candidates on or before said date, the names of candidates shall not be printed on the ballot. The county clerk shall receive the election results from the municipal clerks, shall tabulate the results and shall certify those elected.
If the secretary of the commonwealth cannot accommodate the names of all candidates for county office on the ballot in any particular community such officer may, in such cases, prepare a separate ballot for candidates for county offices.
SECTION 8-4 Establishment of Council Districts
The territory of the county shall be divided into fifteen districts so established as to consist of as nearly an equal a number of inhabitants as it may be possible to achieve. For the purpose of this section population shall be based on the most recent federal census. In establishing district lines attention shall be given to the diversity of the county and the disparity in the population of communities. Insofar as practical small towns shall be grouped together and not included in the same district with a city having a population of more than seventy-five thousand inhabitants. No town consisting of less than six thousand inhabitants shall be divided.
The county council shall from time to time, at least once in every ten years in the year following a federal census, provide for a review of such districts to be made to insure their uniformity in number of inhabitants. Such review shall be made by a committee to consist of one city clerk and four town clerks chosen by the county clerk, subject to the approval of the county council. Whenever such a review is made the county council shall allow for a thirty day review period to be followed by a public hearing before it shall vote to make any new district boundaries final. `tuc ARTICLE 9 GENERAL PROVISIONS
SECTION 9-1 Charter Changes
This charter may be replaced, revised or amended in accordance with the procedure made available under chapter thirty-four A of the General Laws and it may also be amended in accordance with the following procedures.
The county council may, by a two-thirds vote of its full membership, provide for the submission of any proposed amendments to this charter to the voters except any amendment which relates in any way to the composition, mode of election or term of office of the legislative body or of the mode of election, or appointment, or term of office of the chief executive or administrative officer of the county. Amendments proposed by the county council shall become effective if approved by a majority of the voters voting thereon at the next regular county election held more than one hundred and fifty days following the date of the vote of the county council.
Amendments to this charter which relate in any way to the composition, mode of election, or term of office of the legislative body, or the election or appointment or term of office of the chief executive or administrative officer of the county shall be proposed to the voters only after approval of a petition approved by the state legislature.
The county council may, by a majority vote, file a petition for a special law relating to the organization or operation of the county government with the clerk of either branch of the General Court at any time. Such petitions shall, upon receipt be referred by such clerk to an appropriate legislative committee.
Whenever, pursuant to the provisions of this section relating to charter amendments, the county council intends that a question is to appear on the state election ballot the county clerk shall at the earliest possible date, but not later than the first Wednesday in August in an even numbered year, notify the office of the secretary of the commonwealth of the pendency of such question, or questions, and the form in which such question or questions are to appear on such ballots.
SECTION 9-2 Specific Provisions to Prevail
To the extent that any specific provision of the charter shall conflict with any provision expressed in general terms, the specific provision shall prevail.
SECTION 9-3 Rules and Regulations
A copy of all rules and regulations adopted by county agencies shall be placed on file in the office of the county clerk and made available for review by any person who shall request such information. No rule or regulation adopted by any county agency shall become effective until ten days following the day it is so filed in the office of the county clerk.
SECTION 9-4 Periodic Review, Charter and Ordinances
(a) Charter/Ordinance Review - At least once in every five years, in years ending in a five or in a zero, the county council shall provide for a special committee to be established which shall be charged with the responsibility of reviewing the then-existing charter and ordinances of the county for the purpose of determining if any amendments or revisions may be necessary or desirable, and to make a report, with recommendations, to the county council concerning any proposed amendments or revisions which said committee may deem to be necessary or desirable. Such review may be conducted under the supervision of the county legal officer, or if the county council so directs, by special counsel retained for that purpose. The committee shall include representation of municipal officials of the cities and towns which comprise the county.
Reports, with recommendations, should be submitted to the county council not more than ten months following the date such committee is appointed.
(b) Copies of Charter and Ordinances - Copies of the charter and ordinances of the county, as most recently amended or revised, shall be kept available for distribution to any person who may request the same at the office of the county clerk. A fee, not to exceed the actual cost of reproduction of the said material, or in accordance with fees established by general law, may be charged. In any interval between publication of the charter or ordinances, as amended or revised, supplements shall be published which shall contain all enactments affecting the charter or ordinances since last published in consolidated form.
SECTION 9-5 Loss of Office, Excessive Absence
If any person appointed to serve as a member of a multiple member body shall fail to attend three or more consecutive meetings, or more than one-half of all meetings held during one calendar year, the remaining members of the multiple member body may by vote of a majority of the remaining members declare the office of such person vacant, provided that prior to the vote on such question, written notice of an intention so to do shall be given in hand, or mailed to the last known address of such person.
SECTION 9-6 Procedures Governing Multiple Member Bodies
(a) Meetings - All multiple member bodies shall meet regularly at such times and places within the county as they may, by vote, prescribe. Special meetings of any multiple member body shall be held upon the call of its chairperson, or by one-third of the members thereof, by written notice indicating the subject to be acted upon to each member at least seventy-two hours in advance of the time set, except in the case of emergency. A copy of the same notice shall be posted on the county bulletin board. Regular meetings of all multiple member bodies shall be held in public buildings in Plymouth county.
(b) Rules and Minutes - Each multiple member body shall determine its own rules and order of business, unless otherwise provided by the charter, by ordinance, or by law. Each multiple member body shall also provide for the keeping of minutes of its own proceedings.
(c) Voting - If requested by any member, any vote of a multiple member body shall be taken by a roll call and the vote of each member shall be recorded in the minutes; provided, however, that if any vote is unanimous only that fact need be recorded.
(d) Quorum - A majority of the full membership of a multiple member body shall constitute a quorum, but a lesser number may meet and adjourn from time to time. While a quorum is present, unless another provision is made by law or by its own rules, all business shall be determined by a majority vote.
(e) Filling of Vacancies - Whenever a vacancy shall occur in the membership of an appointed multiple member body the remaining members shall forthwith give written notice of such vacancy to the appointing authority. If, at the expiration of thirty days following delivery of such written notice to the appointing authority, said appointing authority has not appointed some person to fill the vacancy, the remaining members of the multiple member body shall fill such a vacancy for the remainder of the unexpired term by a majority vote of the remaining members.
SECTION 9-7 Notice of Vacancies
(a) Posting - Whenever a vacancy occurs in any county agency or county employment, the county executive or other appointing authority shall forthwith cause public notice of the vacancy to be posted on the county bulletin board for not less than fourteen days and advertised for two successive weeks in a local newspaper.
(b) Contents - The aforesaid notices shall contain a description of the duties of the office or position and a listing of necessary or desirable qualifications therefor.
(c) Exception - This section shall not apply to positions covered by the civil service law and rules or to the extent that it conflicts with the requirements provided under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement.
(d) Publication, List of County Officers - Every January, the county executive shall place an advertisement notice in a local newspaper listing all appointed county positions together with the term of office of each.
SECTION 9-8 Removals and Suspensions
(a) Scope - Any appointed officer or employee of the county, not covered by the provisions of general law or the terms of a collective bargaining agreement, whether appointed for a fixed or an indefinite term, may be suspended or removed from duty by the appointing authority.
(b) Procedure - The appointing authority, when acting to remove or to suspend any appointed officer or county employee, shall act in accordance with the following procedure:
(1) A written notice of the intent to remove or to suspend and a statement of the cause or causes therefor shall be delivered in hand to the officer or employee, or mailed, by registered or certified mail to the employee's last known address.
(2) Within five days following delivery of the said notice, the officer or employee may request a hearing by submitting, in writing, a request therefor to the appointing authority, and by filing a copy of said request in the office of the clerk of the county council.
(3) The appointing authority shall hold a hearing not less than seven nor more than fourteen days following the date of receipt of a request therefor, and shall give not less than five days written notice of such hearing to the officer or employee affected. The officer or employee shall have the right to be represented by counsel at such hearing, to call witnesses, to examine witnesses and to introduce evidence at the hearing. The hearing shall be conducted in conformance with section twenty-three B of chapter thirty-nine of the General Laws.
(4) Not more than fourteen days following the hearing, or not more than fourteen days following the delivery of the original notice of intent if no public hearing has been requested, the appointing authority shall take final action on the removal or suspension and shall, forthwith, notify the officer or employee of the removal or suspension, or that the notice of intent has been rescinded.
SECTION 9-9 Definitions
Unless the context clearly requires otherwise the following words as used in this charter shall have the following meanings:
"Charter", this charter and any amendments to it which may hereafter be adopted.
"County", the county of Plymouth.
"County Agency", any board, commission, committee or other multiple member body, or any department, division, or office of the county of Plymouth.
"County Bulletin Boards", the bulletin board in the Plymouth county court house buildings on which official notices are posted, and those at such other locations within the county which may, from time to time, be established by vote of the county council.
"County Officer", when used without further qualification or description, a person elected to a county office or a person having charge of an office or department of the county, who in the exercise of the powers or duties of the office exercises some portion of the sovereign power of the county.
"Days", business days, not including Saturdays, Sundays and legal holidays when the time set is less than seven days; when the time set is seven days or more, every day shall be counted.
"Emergency", a sudden, unexpected, unforeseen happening, occurrence or condition which necessitates immediate action.
"Local Newspapers", at least three daily newspapers of general circulation in one or more parts of the county.
"Majority Vote", a majority of the members of a multiple member body present and voting, provided a quorum is present when the vote is taken, unless a higher number is required by law or by its own rules.
"Multiple Member Body", any county body consisting of two or more persons, whether elected, appointed, or otherwise constituted, but not the county council.
"Voters", persons who are registered to vote in any city or town comprising the county of Plymouth.
SECTION 9-10 Nepotism Forbidden
Every elected and appointed county official is prohibited from participating in any particular matter in which any member of their immediate family has a financial interest.
It is the intention of this charter that all persons serving in or under the government of Plymouth County shall at all times conduct themselves to the highest moral standards. While it is recognized that all persons serving in or under the government of Plymouth County shall be subject to the provisions of chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A of the General Laws nothing in the said chapter or in this charter shall be construed from permitting the county, by ordinance, to establish more restrictive standards. `tuc ARTICLE 10 TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS
SECTION 10-1 Effect on Laws
All general laws, special laws, rules and regulations of or pertaining to the county that are in force when this charter takes effect and not specifically or by implication repealed hereby, shall continue in full force and effect until amended or repealed or rescinded by due course of law or until they expire their own limitation.
SECTION 10-2 Continuation of Government
All county agencies shall continue to perform their duties until re-appointed, or re-elected, or until successors to their respective positions are duly appointed or elected, or until their duties have been transferred and assumed by another county agency.
SECTION 10-3 Transfer of Records and Property
All records, property and equipment whatsoever of any agency or part thereof, the powers and duties of which are assigned in whole or in part to another county agency, shall be transferred forthwith to such agency.
SECTION 10-4 Continuation of Personnel
Any person holding a county office or employment under the county shall continue to retain such office or such employment and shall continue to perform the duties of the office or of the employment until such time as provisions shall have been made in accordance with this charter for the performance of such duties by another person or agency. No person in the permanent, full-time service or employment of the county shall forfeit pay grade or time in service. Each such person shall be retained in an employment capacity as similar to their former employment capacity as is feasible.
SECTION 10-5 Time of Taking Effect
This charter shall not become fully effective until the first Wednesday in January in the third year following the year in which this charter has been ratified by the voters of Plymouth county.
Upon its ratification by the voters, this charter shall become effective for the limited purposes as otherwise provided in this section:
(a) The board of county commissioners shall, forthwith following its reorganization in January in the year following the year in which this charter is adopted, appoint a special commission, to consist of seven members, at least three of whom shall have been members of the Plymouth county charter commission, for the purpose of preparing an administrative code to be submitted to the county council when it organizes in January of the third year following the year in which this charter is adopted. The proposed administrative code shall, in detail, provide for the operation and organization of Plymouth county which will take effect simultaneously with the organization of the new county legislative and executive branches and shall govern until such time as the provisions of such temporary administrative code are changed or modified by the county council in accordance with the provisions of article 4 of this charter.
(b) The board of county commissioners shall, forthwith following its reorganization in the year following the year in which this charter is adopted, appoint a special districting commission for the purpose of establishing the boundaries of the fifteen districts from which members of the county council are to be elected. The commission shall consist of one city clerk and four town clerks chosen from a list of nominees prepared by the town clerks of the county. The special districting committee shall, not later than the last day of December in the year in which it is established publish, in the manner provided in section 2-10(i) of the charter, a proposed division of the county into fifteen council districts as nearly equal in population as it is possible to achieve, and which avoids grouping, insofar as is possible, urban areas with rural areas. A copy of the preliminary report of the special districting commission shall, in addition, be submitted to the office of the secretary of the commonwealth for comment and suggestion. The special districting commission shall, following such publication, hold one or more public hearings concerning its proposal in each of the proposed districts.
All nomination papers for the office of county councillor shall be prepared, distributed and certified through the office of the secretary of the commonwealth for the first election under this charter.
(c) The board of county commissioners and the advisory board on county expenditures shall during the period between the election at which this charter is adopted and the date on which the new charter shall take full effect assist in every way possible in the smooth and orderly transition from the existing form of county government to the new form of county government. Such assistance shall include the provision of funds to assist the special commission on administration and the special commission on districting, the provision of office space, space for meetings and public hearings and reasonable amounts of clerical assistance.
(d) Forthwith following the certification of the election results of the first election of county councillors under this charter the members elected shall be called together by the secretary of the commonwealth, or his designee, who shall present to each member a certificate of election, swear the members to the faithful performance of their duties and shall preside pending the temporary organization of the county council.
Forthwith following its temporary organization the members of the first county council shall provide for the preparation of temporary rules and regulations governing the conduct of its meetings, provide for temporary officers and committees and shall take such other steps as seem necessary or desirable to enable it to begin to function as the county legislative body effective with its formal organization on the first Wednesday in January in the year following the year it is elected.
(e) At the next regular state election held following the election at which this charter is adopted two additional persons shall be elected to serve as members of the board of county commissioners for terms of four years each. The terms of office of the members of the board of county commissioners shall be so arranged that not more than three such terms expire at each biennial state election. Forthwith following the certification of the election of such persons they shall take and subscribe to the oath of office and shall forthwith assume their duties as members of the board of county commissioners.
(f) Until such time as the county council shall act, in accordance with section 2-3, to establish a different level of compensation, each member of the county council shall receive an annual salary of one thousand dollars.
(g) Until such time as the county council shall act, in accordance with section 3-1(b), to establish a different level of compensation, each member of the board of county commissioners shall continue to receive the same salary as a member of such board as was in effect prior to the adoption of this home rule charter.
SECTION 2. In Plymouth county, in addition to the excise imposed on deeds, instruments and writings pursuant to the provisions of section twenty-three of chapter sixty-four D of the General Laws and chapter five hundred and forty-six of the acts of nineteen hundred and sixty-nine, an additional excise on such deeds, instruments and writings filed with the register of deeds of said county may be imposed, by an ordinance adopted by the county council in accordance with the Plymouth County Home Rule Charter, at a rate up to but not exceeding the rate imposed by the commonwealth under such statutes. The revenue provided by this additional excise shall be retained by Plymouth county.
SECTION 3. The state secretary shall cause to be placed on the official ballot to be used in Plymouth county at the biennial election to be held in the year nineteen hundred and eighty-eight the following question:- "Shall an act passed by the general court in the year nineteen hundred and eighty-eight, entitled 'An Act providing a charter for Plymouth county', be accepted " If a majority of the votes cast in answer to said question is in the affirmative then this act shall take effect but not otherwise.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect upon its passage. `tuc ENDORSEMENTS FOLLOW ON PAGE `t+99