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The 192nd General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court assembled, and by the authority of the same, as follows:

SECTION 1. The establishment of the Mattapoisett River Valley Water District, hereinafter referred to as the district, pursuant to section 25 of chapter 40N of the General Laws by votes of the towns of Fairhaven, Marion, Mattapoisett and Rochester passed at town meetings in 2004 and in accordance with the agreement among said towns for the establishment of the district approved pursuant to said votes, hereinafter referred to as the agreement, and all actions heretofore taken by the district commission which were not inconsistent with this act or with the terms of the agreement, are hereby validated, ratified and confirmed in all respects, notwithstanding any failure to comply with the procedural requirements of said section 25. The purpose of the district shall be to provide for the supply, treatment and distribution of water to the member towns.

SECTION 2. The powers, duties and liabilities of the district shall be vested in and exercised by a district commission organized in accordance with this section and the agreement. The commission shall choose a chairman and secretary by ballot from its membership. It shall appoint a treasurer who need not be a member of said commission. The treasurer shall receive and take charge of all money belonging to the district and shall pay any bill of the district which shall have been approved by the commission. The treasurer may, by vote of said commission, be compensated for his services. The treasurer of the district shall be subject to sections 35, 52 and 109A of chapter 41 of the General Laws, to the extent applicable.

(a) Each of the member towns shall appoint 3 commission members. One of the 3 members shall be appointed by the board of selectmen; 1 by the water commissioners, or the board in that town having the authority of water commissioners; and 1 mutually agreed to by the board of selectmen and by the water commissioners; but, in the event of a failure to make a mutual selection of the third commission member in a town after a vacancy has existed for 45 days, the position shall be filled by appointment by the town moderator.

SECTION 3. The district shall be a body politic and corporate and political subdivision of the commonwealth and, notwithstanding the last sentence of section 25 of chapter 40N of the General Laws, shall have the following powers and duties:-

(1) To adopt a name and a corporate seal, and the engraved or printed facsimile of such seal appearing on a bond or note of the district shall have the same legal effect as such seal would have if it were impressed thereon.

(2) To sue and be sued, but only to the same extent and upon the same conditions that a city or town may be sued.

(3) To purchase, take by eminent domain under chapter 79 of the General Laws or otherwise acquire land within the member towns, or any interests therein, for the purposes of the district, including the protection of the water supply; to construct, reconstruct, replace, rehabilitate, repair, equip, operate and maintain water supply, treatment and distribution facilities for the benefit of said towns, and any other facilities necessary to carry out the purposes of the district; and to make any necessary contracts in relation thereto.

(4) To incur debt for the purpose of acquiring land, or any interests therein, and constructing, reconstruction, replacing, rehabilitating, repairing and equipping water supply, treatment and distribution facilities and any other facilities necessary to carry out the purposes of the district, including debt for the purposes of designing and otherwise planning any such improvements, for a term not exceeding 30 years; but, written notice of the amount of the debt and of the general purposes for which it was authorized shall be given to the board of selectmen of each town, comprising the district not later than 7 days after the date on which said debt was authorized by the district commission, and no debt shall be incurred until the expiration of 45 days from the date said debt was authorized by the district commission. If before the expiration of said period, any member town expresses disapproval by vote of a majority of the voters present and voting on the matter at a town meeting called for the purpose of expressing such disapproval, the said debt shall not be incurred; but, in the event of any such disapproval by a member town, the district commission may prepare and authorize another proposal for the incurrence of debt which may be the same as any prior proposal and shall be subject to the requirements of this section. Notwithstanding section X of the district agreement, a member town shall not be required to hold a town meeting within said 45 day period and the failure of a member town to hold a town meeting shall not constitute disapproval of the amount of the debt authorized by the district commission.

(5) To issue bonds and notes in the name and upon the full faith and credit of said district; said bonds or notes shall be signed by the chairman and the treasurer of the district commission, except that said chairman by a writing bearing his written signature and filed in the office of said treasurer, which writing shall be open to public inspection, may authorize said treasurer to cause to be engraved or printed on said bonds or notes a facsimile of said chairman's signature, and such facsimile signature so engraved or printed shall have the same validity and effect as said chairman's written signature, and each issue of bonds or notes shall be a separate loan.

(6) To receive and disburse funds for any district purpose, and to invest funds in any investments legally permitted for cities and towns.

(7) To incur temporary debt in anticipation of revenue to be received from the member towns or from any other source.

(8) To assess member towns for any expenses of the district.

(9) To maintain a reserve fund, and to carry over the remaining balance of such fund into the ensuing fiscal year, subject to the limitations in section 4 of this act.

(10) To apply to receive and expend or hold any grants or gifts for the purposes of the district.

(11) To engage legal counsel, financial advisors, engineers, accountants, consultants, agents and other advisors.

(12) To submit an annual report to each of the member towns, containing a detailed financial statement, and a statement showing the method by which the annual charges assessed against each town were computed.

(13) To employ an executive director and such other employees as it considers necessary to operate such district.

(14) To enter into contracts with any persons, including but not limited to non-member cities and towns, other bodies politic and the United States of America, that are necessary or convenient to carrying out the powers of the district, including but not limited to contracts for the purchase, supply, treatment and distribution of water and contracts for the operation and management of the water facilities of the district.

(15) In the interest of the health, safety and welfare of the public in the member towns, to regulate, and to limit or prohibit any party in the construction of new facilities, including new wells, and/or in the enlargement, improvement, or increased use of any facilities which were in existence on or before July 1, 2004, for the taking of water from the Mattapoisett river aquifer, notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary.

(16) To establish standards and procedures for the sale of water by member towns to each other, and no sale of water shall be allowed between member towns except pursuant to such standards and procedures. No sales shall be allowed by a member town to a non-member town except for short term sales made necessary due to emergency or circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the non-member community, but in any event not to exceed 25,000 gallons per day and for no longer than 30 days.

(17) To enact by-laws and rules concerning the management and regulation of its affairs and the use of its facilities and the provision of its services.

(18) To convey, sell, lease or otherwise dispose of any district real or personal property, or interests therein, no longer needed for district purposes.

(19) To do any and all other things necessary and convenient to carrying out the powers and purposes of the district, and all other things incidental and related thereto.

SECTION 4. The district commission shall annually determine the amounts necessary to be raised to maintain and operate the district during the ensuing fiscal year, plus a reserve fund not to exceed 15 per cent of the maintenance and operating budget, and the amounts required for payment of debt and interest incurred by the district which will be due in said year, and shall apportion the amounts so determined among the several member towns in accordance with the terms of the agreement. The amounts so apportioned for each town shall, prior to February first in each year, be certified by the district treasurer to the treasurers of the several towns. Except to the extent provided for from water system revenues and other sources, the obligation of each member town to pay apportionments pursuant to the agreement shall be included in the amounts to be assessed annually in such town under section 23 of chapter 59 of the General Laws, and, with or without an appropriation therefore, the town treasurer shall pay to the district the amounts so apportioned at the times specified in the agreement. The amounts apportioned or to be apportioned pursuant to the agreement shall not be included in the statutory limit of indebtedness of any town.

SECTION 5. Notwithstanding chapter 44 of the General Laws to the contrary, only sections 16 to 28, inclusive, of said chapter 44, so far as apt, shall apply to the district; provided, however, that section 16 of said chapter 44 relating to the countersigning of bonds and notes and section 24 of said chapter 44 relating to the countersigning and approval of notes and the certificates of the clerk relating thereto shall not apply to the district; and provided further that, notwithstanding section 19 of said chapter 44 to the contrary, the maturities of each issue of bonds and notes of the district shall be arranged so that for each issue the amounts payable in the several years for principal and interest combined shall be as nearly equal as practicable in the opinion of the treasurer or, in the alternative, in accordance with a schedule providing for a more rapid amortization of principal. Any debt incurred by the district shall not be subject to the limit of indebtedness prescribed in section 10 of said chapter 44.

SECTION 6. The member towns may from time to time amend the district agreement if the agreement as so amended is not inconsistent with this act.

SECTION 7. Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, section 4 of this act or the terms of the agreement, costs of designing the district's water treatment facility in the aggregate amount of $715,000 shall be financed by the towns of Fairhaven, Marion and Mattapoisett, pursuant to the appropriations voted by said towns for their respective shares of said project costs at town meetings held in 2004, and said votes and appropriations are hereby validated, ratified and confirmed in all respects, including, in the case of the votes of the towns of Marion and Mattapoisett, the authorizations pursuant to said votes to raise such appropriations by borrowing, which indebtedness shall be incurred by said towns pursuant to clause (22) of section 7 of chapter 44 of the General Laws. Each of said towns shall transfer all or any portion of the amounts appropriated for said design project to the district for application to pay project costs only upon receipt by the treasurer of the town from the district of copies of invoices or other evidence satisfactory to the treasurer that the project costs for which said amounts are being transferred have been incurred by the district and are due and payable.

Approved October 7, 2004.