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, Worcester county shall be governed by the provisions of the following home rule charter if this act is accepted by the voters of Worcester county at the state election held in the current year. Worcester county shall thereafter be governed by the provisions of this act to the extent that the provisions of this act modify or are inconsistent with any special or general law the provisions of this act shall govern. Following is the proposed home rule charter of Worcester county: `tuc ARTICLE 1 INCORPORATION AND POWERS
Section 1-1 Incorporation
Worcester 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 use, 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 Worcester county home rule charter.
Section 1-3 Purposes
Among the purposes for which this charter is adopted is the seeking of greater efficiency, economy and responsibility in county government and in regional level services to meet problems which cross municipal boundaries and which cannot be met effectively on an individual basis by municipalities or on a statewide basis by commonwealth.
Section 1-4 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 Worcester 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 to be made 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 1-5 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 economics 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 right 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 1-6 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) Through the adoption, amendment or repeal of ordinances, or the provisions of an administrative code, to organize and regulate its internal affairs; 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.
Section 1-7 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, 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 government of 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 1-8 Form of Government/Division of Powers
The legislative powers of Worcester county shall be vested in and shall be exercised by a county council. The executive and administrative powers shall be vested in and exercised by officers and agencies under the supervision and direction of a county manager. `tuc ARTICLE 2 CODE OF STANDARDS
Section 2-1 Definition
As used in this section: The term "county agency" shall mean any county department, or division, board, commission, or bureau of any county department or any public benefit corporation or public authority at least one of whose members is appointed by the governor.
The term "employee" shall mean any officer or employee of the county but it shall not include members of the county council.
Section 2-2 Standards
(a) No officer or employee of a county agency, member of the county council or council employee should accept other employment which will impair his independence of judgment in the exercise of his official duties.
(b) No officer or employee of a county agency, member of the county council or council employee should accept employment or engage in any business or professional activity which will require him to disclose confidential information which he has gained by reason of his official position or authority.
(c) No officer or employee of a county agency, member of the county council or council employee should disclose confidential information acquired by him in the course of his official duties nor use such information to further his personal interests.
(d) No officer or employee of a county agency, member of the county council or council employee should use or attempt to use his official position to secure unwarranted privileges or exemptions for himself or others.
(e) No officer or employee of a county agency, member of the county council or council employee should engage in any transaction as representative or agent of the county with any business entity in which he has a direct or indirect financial interest that might reasonably tend to conflict with the proper discharge of his official duties.
(f) An officer or employee of a county agency, member of the county council or council employee should not by his conduct give reasonable basis for the impression that any person can improperly influence him or unduly enjoy his favor in the performance of his official duties, or that he is affected by the kinship, rank, position or influence of any party or person.
(g) An officer or employee of a county agency, member of the county council or council employee, should abstain from making personal investments in enterprises which he has reason to believe may be directly involved in decisions to be made by him or which will otherwise create substantial conflict between his duty in the public interest and his private interest.
(h) An officer or employee of a county agency, member of the county council or council employee should endeavor to pursue a course of conduct which will not raise suspicion among the public that he is likely to be engaged in acts that are in violation of his trust.
(i) No officer or employee of a county agency, member of the county council or council employee employed on a full-time basis nor any firm or association of which such a person is a member nor corporation a substantial portion of the stock of which is owned or controlled directly or indirectly by such a person, should sell goods or services to any person, firm, corporation or association which is licensed or whose rates are fixed by the county agency in which such officer or employee serves or is employed.
(j) 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.
(k) No officer or employee of a county agency, member of the county council or council employee should have any interest, financial or otherwise, direct or indirect, or engage in any business or transaction or professional activity or incur any obligation of any nature, which is in substantial conflict with the proper discharge of his duties in the public interest. Nothing herein shall be construed as a limitation on the provisions of chapter two hundred and sixty-eight A of the General Laws.
Section 2-3 Violations
In addition to any penalty contained in any other provision of law any such officer, member of the county council or council employee or officer or employee of a county agency who shall knowingly and intentionally violate any of the provisions of this section may be suspended or removed from office or employment in the manner provided by this charter. `tuc ARTICLE 3 LEGISLATIVE BRANCH
Section 3-1 Composition, Mode of Election, Term of Office
(a) Composition - There shall be a county council consisting of seven members which shall exercise the legislative powers of Worcester county. The members of the county council shall be elected by and from the voters in the seven districts into which the county is divided for the purpose of electing such members.
(b) Eligibility - Any voter who at the time of the election has been a resident of the district from which election is sought for a period of one year or longer shall be eligible to hold the office of county councillor. 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 four years each at the biennial state election held in every other even numbered year. The term of office for county councillors shall begin on the first Wednesday in January in the year following the year in which elected and shall continue until their successors have been chosen and qualified.
Section 3-2 Organization; Presiding Officer; Deputy Presiding Officer
(a) Organization - The county council shall meet on the first Wednesday in January of each 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; provided, however, if two or more members have equal lengths of service, the member senior in both age and years of service shall preside. The county council shall then elect, from their own number, a council chairperson and a council vice-chairperson.
(b) Council Chairperson - The council chairperson 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 council chairperson 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) Council Vice-Chairperson - The council vice-chairperson shall serve as council chairperson during the absence or disability of the council chairperson 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 3-3 Compensation
The county council shall, by ordinance, establish an annual salary for its members. No ordinance increasing such salary shall be effective, however, unless it shall have been adopted during the first forty months of the term for which county councillors are elected and it provides that the salary is to become effective at the commencement of the term of the next county council to be elected.
Section 3-4 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 3-5 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 councillors shall constitute a quorum but a smaller number may meet and adjourn from time to time. The affirmative vote of a majority of the full county council shall be necessary to adopt any ordinance or appropriation order.
(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 during the evening hours. The regular meetings of the county council shall be so scheduled as to cause at least two meetings of the county council to be held in each council district during each calendar year.
(ii) Special meetings of the county council may be held at the call of the council chairperson, 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 forty-eight hours in advance of the time set and which notice shall include the subjects to be acted upon at such special meetings.
(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 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. Voting shall be by voice, but, if requested by any member, a call of the role shall be taken and the vote of each member recorded in the journal. If the vote is unanimous, only that fact need be recorded.
(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 3-6 Clerk of the County Council
The county council shall appoint, by a majority vote, to serve for a term of four years, a clerk of the county council. The clerk of the county council 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 by ordinance, or by other vote of the county council.
Section 3-7 Prohibitions
Except as provided in Section 4-4, no member of the county council shall individually or collectively seek to influence the county manager to dismiss any person from, or to appoint, or to promote any person to any position in the executive branch of county government.
The members of the county council shall deal with county officers and employees solely through the county manager. All contact with county employees, all actions and communications concerning county government, administrative activity and provision of services shall be solely through the county manager, except as is otherwise provided in this section.
This section shall not prohibit the county council from conducting an inquiry into any act or problem of the county's administration.
No member of the county council shall be eligible by appointment or election by the members of the county council to any office or position under the supervision of the county council. No former member of the county council shall hold any compensated county office or county employment until the expiration of one year following the termination of such service. This provision shall not prohibit a former county officer or employee who has taken a leave of absence from such duties while serving as a member of the county council from resuming such office or position following such service as a county councillor.
Section 3-8 Inquiries and Investigations
Any member of the county council may at any time require a report on any aspect of the county by making a request in writing to the county manager.
The county council may require the county manager 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 the matter under study.
The county council may, by majority vote of its full membership, delegate any number of its members as an ad hoc committee to consult with the county manager on any matter and to report back to the full county council with the results of such meeting.
Section 3-9 Resolutions
(a) Vote Requirement - The affirmative votes of a majority of the members of the county council, present and voting shall be necessary 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 conduct of an inquiry or an investigation;
(ii) the adoption of rules governing the conduct of its own business;
(iii) the establishment of times and places for its own meetings;
(iv) the establishment of the county council as a committee of the whole and the delegation of its members as an ad hoc committee;
(v) the declaration of emergencies;
(vi) the identification of emergency situations;
(vii) the election, appointment and removal of such officers and employees as the board is permitted by this charter, or otherwise;
(viii) designation of newspapers to be used to give notice of county matters to the public;
(ix) approval of contracts presented by the county manager;
(x) actions specified as resolutions;
(xi) the expression of such board policies or opinions as requires no formal county council action.
Section 3-10 Ordinances
(a) Form - Every proposed ordinance shall be introduced in writing and in the form required for final adoption. The enacting clause shall be: "Worcester county hereby ordains:".
(b) Vote Requirement - The affirmative votes of a majority of the full membership of the county council shall be necessary to finally adopt any ordinance.
(c) 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 and 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 to be 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 the borrowing of money;
(viii) convey or lease, or authorize the conveyance or lease of any real estate belonging to the county;
(ix) to enter into bilateral or multilateral contracts with other governmental units within the county or contiguous to the boundaries of the county for the joint performance, or for 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 6;
(xi) amend or repeal any ordinance previously adopted;
(xii) propose amendments to this charter;
(xiii) to accept presently governing personnel regulations.
(d) Procedures -
Introductions - A proposed ordinance may be introduced by any member of the county council, or by the county manager, 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 the county manager, if present. After an ordinance has been introduced and unless it is rejected at the same meeting by the affirmative votes of a majority 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.
Public Hearing - The public hearing on any proposed ordinance shall follow the required publication by at least one week. 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.
Action by County Council - The county council may adopt, with or without amendment, or reject, any proposed ordinance following the public hearing.
Publication of Adopted Ordinances - As soon as practicable following adoption of any ordinance it shall be printed and published.
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.
Publishing, 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 the required notice in local newspapers.
(2) That copies of the proposed ordinance or adopted ordinance, have been made available to all representatives of the communications media.
(3) That copies of the proposed ordinance or adopted ordinance have been distributed to the clerks of every city and town in the county for posting on municipal bulletin boards.
(4) 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 3-11 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 this 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 automatically stand repealed on the sixty-first day following its adoption.
Section 3-12 Filling of Vacancies
If a vacancy shall occur in the office of county councillor with more than six months remaining of the term for which councillors are elected, a successor shall be chosen in accordance with the following procedure:
The clerk of the county council shall cause a notice of said vacancy to be sent to the clerk of each municipality in the district in which the vacancy exists. The clerks of said municipalities shall forthwith cause such notice to be posted on their municipal bulletin boards. Any voter of the district who desires to be considered to fill such vacancy shall, in writing, so advise the clerk of the county council. Not less than fourteen nor more than twenty-eight days following the date on which notice of the vacancy was sent to the municipal clerks of the district, the clerk of the county council shall call a convention of the chief executive officers of each municipality in the district, including in such notice copies of all materials received from persons desiring to be considered to fill such vacancy. The said chief executive officers shall fill such vacancy by casting votes in the same percentage the population of their municipality represents to the population of the district in which the vacancy exists.
If a vacancy shall occur in the office of county councillor with less than six months remaining of the term for which councillors are elected, the position shall not be filled as provided above, but the person elected to the office at the regular state election shall, forthwith, subscribe to the oath of office and shall, in addition to the term for which otherwise elected, serve for the balance of the then unexpired term. `tuc ARTICLE 4 COUNTY MANAGER
Section 4-1 County Manager, Qualifications; Term of Office; Compensation
(a) Appointment, Qualifications - The executive officer of the county shall be a county manager, who shall be appointed by majority vote of the county council to serve for an indefinite term. The county manager shall be a person especially fitted by education, training and previous public administration to perform the duties of the office. The county manager need not be a resident of the county at the time of appointment to the office but, unless excused therefrom by vote of the county council, the county manager shall establish a residence in the county within a reasonable time. The county manager 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 manager.
(b) Compensation - The county council shall, by ordinance, establish an annual salary for the county manager. The salary shall be reasonable and commensurate with the duties of the office and may not be lowered during the tenure of an incumbent.
Section 4-2 Executive Powers
The executive powers of the county shall be vested in the county manager and may be exercised either personally by such officer or through the several county agencies under the direction and supervision of that office. The county manager shall cause this charter, the laws and the ordinances and orders for the government and administration of the county to be enforced.
The county manager shall exercise a general supervision and direction over all county agencies, unless otherwise provided by law. Each county agency shall furnish to the county manager, forthwith when so requested, any information, materials or otherwise as the county manager may request and as the needs of that office and the interest of the county may require.
Section 4-3 Powers and Duties
The county manager shall have, possess and may exercise all the powers, rights and duties commonly associated with the office of a local governmental unit. The powers and duties of the county manager shall include, but are not intended to be 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 county advisory board, throughout the fiscal year;
(c) supervise the care and custody of all county property, institutions and agencies;
(d) keep the county council and the public fully informed as to the administrative condition of the county by filing reports with the county council, at least quarterly, summarizing such condition;
(e) to make at any time such recommendations to the county council for actions required to be taken by it as the county manager deems necessary for the improvement of the county and the welfare of its residents;
(f) sign all contracts, bonds or other instruments requiring the consent of the county subject to the approval of the county council;
(g) 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 county manager shall deem necessary, desirable or expedient;
(h) at any time to inquire into the conduct of office or performance of duty of any county officer, department head or employee;
(i) 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;
(j) may authorize any subordinate officer or employee of the county to exercise any power, function or duty assigned by this charter to the county manager provided, however, that all acts which are performed under any such delegation shall be deemed to be the acts of the county manager.
Section 4-4 Appointments by County Manager
The county manager 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. Such action shall become effective on the fifteenth day following the day on which notice of the proposed action is filed with the county council, unless the county council shall, within such period by a majority vote of its members have voted to reject such appointment, or has sooner voted to affirm it. Copies of notices of all proposed appointments shall be posted on the county bulletin boards when filed with the county council.
Section 4-5 Acting County Manager
(a) Temporary Absence - The county manager shall by letter filed with the clerk of the county council, designate a qualified county officer or employee to exercise the powers and perform the duties of the county manager during a temporary absence. During the temporary absence of the county manager the county council may not revoke such a designation until at least ten working days have elapsed, whereupon it may designate another qualified county officer or employee to serve as acting county manager until the county manager shall return and assume the duties.
(b) Vacancy - Any vacancy in the office of county manager shall be filled as soon as possible by the county council but pending such appointment the county council shall designate a qualified county officer or employee to perform the duties of the county manager on an acting basis. The appointment of an acting county manager shall be for a term not to exceed three months, provided however, one renewal thereof, not to exceed an additional three months, may be made.
(c) Powers and Duties - The powers of a temporary or acting county manager, under (a) or (b) above, shall be limited to matters not admitting of delay and shall include authority to make temporary, emergency appointments or designations, to county office or employment, but no appointments or designations of a permanent nature shall be made without confirmation by a vote of three members of the county council.
Section 4-6 Removal and Suspension
The county council may, by majority vote of the full membership, terminate and remove, or suspend, the county manager from office in accordance with the following procedure:
Before the county manager may be removed, if the county manager so requests the county council shall provide a written statement setting forth the reasons on which the removal or termination is based and shall afford the county manager with the opportunity to be heard at a meeting of the county council prior to a final vote on the removal or termination.
Pending and during any public hearing which may be so requested the county council may suspend the county manager from office. The action of the county council in suspending or removing the county manager from office shall be final. It is the intention of this provision to vest all authority and to fix all responsibility for such suspension or removal solely in the county council. The county manager shall continue to receive a salary until the final date on which a removal shall become effective. The county council may, by ordinance, establish a procedure for removal or suspension of a county manager in such additional detail as it may deem to be necessary or desirable. `tuc ARTICLE 5 ADMINISTRATIVE ORGANIZATION
Section 5-1 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 county manager and of the county council at all reasonable times for consultation, discussion and for the 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 vacancy shall be filled as otherwise provided by law.
B. COUNTY TREASURER
There shall be a county treasurer elected by the voters of Worcester 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 Worcester 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. REGISTERS OF DEEDS
Northern District - There shall be a northern district register of deeds who shall be elected by and from the voters in Fitchburg, Ashburnham, Leominster, Lunenburg and Westminster 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 the northern district.
Southern District - There shall be a southern district register of deeds who shall be elected by and from the voters in the other cities and towns which comprise the county and who shall at the time of election and at all times during the term for which elected remain a registered voter of the southern district.
The register of deeds for each district shall have general charge and superintendence of the registry of deeds for the district and all of the books, records, deeds and papers belonging thereto. The register of deeds for each district shall have all of the powers and duties as may be provided by county ordinance or administrative code and the General Laws.
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 5-2 Appointed County Officers
A. IN GENERAL
The activities under the direction and supervision of the county manager 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 county manager. With the consent of the county council, the county manager may serve, personally, as the head of any office, department or agency of the county. With the consent of the county council, the county manager may appoint the same person to serve as the head of two or more departments, offices or agencies of the county.
The county manager may appoint, from time to time, one or more qualified citizens to serve as advisors to the county manager or to any department, office or agency of the county.
B. CHARTER DEPARTMENTS
(a) Personnel Department
(1) Intention - All appointments and promotions to or in the county service shall be based upon merit and fitness alone. Merit and fitness are to be determined, insofar as practicable, by competitive testing and by the evaluation of other measures of suitability based on education, training, experience and department interviews.
(2) Director of Personnel - There shall be a personnel department headed by a director of county personnel appointed by the county manager.
(3) Personnel Rules and Regulations - The director of county personnel shall prepare rules and regulations to carry out a comprehensive system of county personnel administration. The rules and regulations shall contain the following provisions:
(a) a classification plan, based upon the duties, authority and responsibility of each position, for all offices and positions in the county service;
(b) a pay plan for all offices and positions in the county service, based upon the classification plan;
(c) the methods to be followed in determining merit and fitness of candidates for appointment to or promotion in the county service;
(d) the methods to be followed in establishing, maintaining and certifying of eligible lists for appointments or promotions in the county service;
(e) the procedures to be followed in the case of layoffs, suspensions or removals of persons in the county service and any appeal or other review procedures to be available in such cases;
(f) such other practices and procedures as may be necessary or desirable to establish, operate and maintain a quality personnel system for Worcester county.
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) Administrative Reorganization - The county manager, after consultation with 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 county manager prepares such a plan the county manager 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 plan of the public hearing and the scope of the proposal.
The county manager 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 county manager shall prepare, maintain and keep current an organizational chart on 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 county manager. `tuc ARTICLE 6 FISCAL PROCEDURES
Section 6-1 Fiscal Year
The fiscal year of Worcester 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 6-2 Advisory Board
There shall be an advisory board comprised of representatives from each municipality within the county. The representatives from each community shall be the chief executive officer of the community, if any, or, in a city, any member of the legislative body designated by such officer, or in a town, any town voter appointed by the board of selectmen. The designated representative of each community shall, after subscribing to an oath of office, receive a certificate of such appointment from the town or city clerk.
Except as otherwise provided in this charter the powers of the advisory board for Worcester county shall be the same as those provided for under section thirty-eight B of chapter thirty-five of the General Laws.
Section 6-3 Submission of Proposed Budget
Every county agency or department shall submit to the county manager its requested annual budget on or before the date designated by the county manager. After consultation with and approval by the county council, and within a time fixed by ordinance, before the date on which the advisory board is to meet in its spring session, the county manager shall submit to the advisory board a proposed budget for the ensuing year, with an accompanying budget message and supporting documents. The county manager shall simultaneously provide a general summary of the proposed budget to be made available to all representatives of the communications media and shall cause a legal notice to be published in at least three local newspapers published in the county, one of which shall be in the city of Worcester, indicating the times and places at which complete copies of the proposed budget and accompanying materials are available for inspection by the public.
Section 6-4 Budget Message
The budget message submitted by the county manager 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 county manager deems desirable or the county council may reasonably require.
Section 6-5 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 county manager deems desirable, or as the county council may require. In the presentation of the proposed budget the county manager 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;
(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 6-6 Action on the Proposed Budget
(a) Public Hearing - The advisory board 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 or more than fourteen days following such publication, when a public hearing will be held by the advisory board on the proposed budget.
(b) Review - The advisory board 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 advisory board may require the county manager, or any other county agency through the county manager, to furnish it with such additional information as it may deem necessary to assist it in its review of the proposed budget.
Section 6-7 Capital Improvement Program
The county manager shall submit a capital improvement program to the county council and to the advisory board at least thirty days prior to the date fixed by by-law for the submission of the proposed operating budget. The capital improvement program shall include, but need not be limited to the following:
(a) a clear, concise, general summary of its contents;
(b) a 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;
(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 6-8 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 a committee of three municipal officials appointed by the advisory board. `tuc ARTICLE 7 ELECTION RELATED MATTERS
Section 7-1 Elections
The regular elections for county offices shall be held in conjunction with the biennial state election.
Section 7-2 Application of State Election Laws
Except as is expressly provided in this charter all elections to county offices 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 7-3 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 treasurer and 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 district councillor the nomination papers shall be signed in the aggregate by at least two hundred voters of the district.
Section 7-4 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 - In the case of a county wide position, one thousand voters may file with the clerk of the county council an affidavit containing the name of the officer whose recall is sought and a statement of the grounds for recall. In the case of a district county position, two hundred voters may file with the clerk of the county council an affidavit containing the name of the office 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 affidavits 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 affidavits shall contain the names of the voters from any six precincts within the said district. When submitted to the clerk of the county council 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 clerk of the county council shall certify such affidavits with regard to the sufficiency and validity within seven days and shall thereupon deliver to the ten persons first named on such affidavits, petition blanks demanding said recall, printed forms of which the clerk of the county council 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 clerk of the county council. The recall petitions shall be returned to the office of the clerk of the county council 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 clerk of the county council 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 - If the petitions shall be certified by the registrars of voters to be sufficient, the clerk of the county council 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 clerk of the county council 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 filing 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 ballots 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 in 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 such 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 highest 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 clause (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.
Section 7-5 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 voters in their respective municipalities.
(b) Referral to County Legal Officer - If the clerk of the county council 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 clerk of the county council 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 that an initiative measure has been rejected, a supplemental 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, 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 initiative petition of 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 7-6 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 7-5 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 7-7 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 7-8 Establishment of Council Districts
The territory of the county shall be divided into seven 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 city and 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 followed by a public hearing before making any new district boundaries final.
Section 7-9 Notice to Secretary of the 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 GENERAL PROVISIONS
Section 8-1 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.
Section 8-2 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 provisions shall prevail.
Section 8-3 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 manager 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 manager.
Section 8-4 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.
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 manager. 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 8-5 Loss of Office, Excessive Absence
If any person appointed to serve as a member of a multiple member body shall fail to attend six 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 to do so shall be given in hand, or mailed to the last known address of such person.
Section 8-6 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 (l/3) of the members thereof, by written notice indicating the subject to be acted upon to each member at least forty-eight 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 of Worcester 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 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 8-7 Notice of Vacancies
(a) Whenever a vacancy occurs in any county agency, the county manager 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) Whenever a vacancy occurs in any county employment, the county manager 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 a reasonable length of time in an appropriate publication to be determined by the county manager.
(c) The aforesaid notices shall contain a description of the duties of the office or position and a listing of necessary or desirable qualifications therefor.
(d) 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.
(e) Every January, the county manager shall place an advertisement notice in a local newspaper listing all appointed county positions together with the term of office of each.
Section 8-8 Removals and Suspensions
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.
The appointing authority, when acting to remove or to suspend any appointed officer or county employee, shall act in accordance with the following procedure:
(a) A written notice of the intent to remove or to suspend and a statement of the cause or causes therefore shall be delivered in hand to the officer or employee, or mailed, by registered or certified mail to the employee's last known address.
(b) 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.
(c) 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.
(d) 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 8-9 Definitions
The following words as used in this charter shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:
(a) Charter - this charter and any amendments to it which may hereafter be adopted;
(b) County - the county of Worcester;
(c) County Agency - any board, commission, committee or other multiple member body, department, division, or office of the county of Worcester;
(d) County Bulletin Boards - the bulletin board in the Worcester county court house building 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;
(e) County Officer - when used without further qualification or description, shall mean 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;
(f) Days - shall refer to 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;
(g) Emergency - a sudden, unexpected, unforeseen happening, occurrence or condition which necessitates immediate action;
(h) Local Newspaper - shall mean at least three daily newspapers of general circulation in one or more parts of the county, one of which shall be published in the city of Worcester;
(i) Majority Vote - shall mean 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;
(j) Multiple Member Body - any county body consisting of two or more persons, whether elected, appointed, or otherwise constituted, but not the county council;
(k) Voters - persons who are registered to vote in any city or town comprising the county of Worcester. `tuc ARTICLE 9 TRANSITIONAL PROVISIONS
Section 9-1 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, repealed or rescinded by due course of law or until they expire their own limitation.
Section 9-2 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 fully appointed or elected, or until their duties have been transferred and assumed by another county agency.
Section 9-3 Initial Salary of Councillors
Notwithstanding the provisions of section 3-3 the initial salaries to be paid to members of the county council shall be determined by dividing the gross annual amount appropriated for the salaries of county commissioners in the then current fiscal year by seven, the number of county councillors as provided in this charter.
Section 9-4 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 9-5 Establishment of Initial Council Districts
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 seven districts from which members of the county council are to be elected. The commission shall consist of city and town clerks of Worcester county. Not more than five of such clerks shall be members of the same political party. The special districting committee shall not later than the last day of December in the year in which it's established publish in the manner provided in section 3-10(d) of the charter. A proposed division of the county into seven council districts as nearly equal in population as it is possible to achieve and which avoids grouping in so far as is possible urban areas with rural areas. A copy of the preliminary report of the special districting commission shall 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.
Not later than the last day in February in the year following its appointment the special districting commission shall publish its final report establishing the seven districts from which the first members of the county council are to be chosen. A copy of its report shall be sent to the office of the secretary of the commonwealth.
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.
Section 9-6 Continuation of Personnel
Any person holding a town 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 former employment capacity as is practical.
Section 9-7 Time of Taking Effect
This charter shall not become fully effective until the first Wednesday in January in the year following the year in which the next biennial election is held following the election at which this charter has been ratified by the voters of Worcester county.
Upon its ratification by the voters, this charter shall become effective for the limited purposes as otherwise provided in this section.
SECTION 2. The state secretary shall cause to be placed on the official ballot to be used in Worcester county at the biennial state 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 for the establishment of a charter for Worcester county', be accepted " If a majority of the votes cast in answer to said question is in the affirmative then section one and two of this act shall take full effect, but not otherwise.
SECTION 3. For the purpose of ascertaining the will of the people of Worcester county, the state secretary shall cause to be placed on the official ballot to be used in the cities and towns of said county, at the biennial state election held in the year nineteen hundred and eighty-eight the following nonbinding question on public policy:-
This question is nonbinding.
Do you approve of the commonwealth of Massachusetts assuming the duties, costs, services and responsibilities of all Worcester county government and its agencies
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect upon its passage.