AN ACT RELATIVE TO THE FINANCIAL CONDITION OF THE TOWN OF ORANGE.
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. (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law, city charter provision or ordinance to the contrary, the town of Orange, with the approval of the commissioner of revenue, may borrow up to $445,000.00, as approved by the town and the commissioner, to fully fund the Group Health Insurance Trust Fund for fiscal year 2011 to address the underfunding of the Fund in prior fiscal years. The commissioner may limit amounts borrowed to amounts less than approved by the town. Notwithstanding chapter 44 of the General Laws, bonds or notes issued for the purposes of this act may be issued for terms of not more than 5 years and shall be backed by the full faith and credit of the town, and the bonds or notes may be issued as qualified bonds or notes. Indebtedness incurred under this act shall not be included in determining the statutory limit of indebtedness of the town under section 10 of said chapter 44 but, except as provided in this act, shall otherwise be subject to said chapter 44. Amounts raised to pay indebtedness incurred under this act shall be subject to section 21C of chapter 59 of the General Laws.
(b) The maturities of each issue of bonds or notes authorized under this act, including any refunding bonds, if approved by the town officers authorized to issue and approve these bonds or notes, and by the commissioner, may be arranged so that for each issue the amounts payable in the several years for principal and interest combined are as nearly equal as is practicable in the opinion of the officers authorized to issue and approve the bonds or notes or, in the alternative, in accordance with a schedule providing for a more rapid amortization of principal.
(c) All proceeds of bonds or notes issued pursuant to this act exclusive of any costs of preparing, issuing and marketing such bonds or notes shall be deposited in the Group Health Insurance Trust Fund for the purposes described in this act.
(d) The director of accounts in the department of revenue may establish rules and procedures as may be appropriate relative to disbursements from the Group Health Insurance Trust Fund and the reporting and accounting for those disbursements.
(e) Any residual in the Group Health Insurance Trust Fund shall be applied to repay outstanding debt issued pursuant to this act.
SECTION 2. (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law, rule or regulation to the contrary and as an alternative to the borrowing authorized in section 1, the town of Orange may capitalize not to exceed $445,000.00 for the purpose stated in said section 1, the amortization amount, and fund the amortization amount in equal or decreasing annual installments over a period starting with fiscal year 2012 and not exceeding 5 years. For fiscal year 2012 and fully subject to section 21C of chapter 59 of the General Laws, the board of assessors of the town of Orange may, subject to the approval of the commissioner, deduct such portion of the amortization amount as the commissioner approves as consistent with this act, from the amount to be assessed under section 23 of said chapter 59. Under the conditions imposed in this act, the assessors of the town of Orange may similarly deduct such portion of the amortized amount in any year until the amortization is completed, not later than fiscal year 2017.
(b) Any residual in the Group Health Insurance Trust Fund shall be applied to the amortization amount described in this act.
SECTION 3. (a) With respect to fiscal year 2012 and any other year in which bonds, notes or an amortization amount authorized under this act remain outstanding, not later than 10 days after the adoption of the town budget, or July 1, whichever is earlier, the assessors and the selectmen shall submit to the director a pro forma tax rate recapitulation for the following fiscal year, together with a copy of the adopted budget and such supporting revenue and expenditure information as the director may prescribe. The director of accounts in the department of revenue shall ascertain whether the town budget for that fiscal year contains reasonable revenues from taxation and other sources to meet the appropriations and other amounts required by law to be raised under section 23 of chapter 59 of the General Laws and the director shall report his findings to the town administrator and board of selectmen. If the director determines that the town budget as presented would not permit certification of the tax rate for the applicable fiscal year, the director may recommend further action to achieve a balanced budget. In such a case, a tax rate for the year shall not be approved until submission of an annual tax rate recapitulation based on the actions the town has approved or taken to achieve a balanced budget.
(b) In any year during which bonds, notes or an amortization amount authorized in this act remain outstanding, the commissioner of revenue shall not certify the annual tax rate of the town of Orange until an audit report for the preceding fiscal year has been received and accepted by the director. The audit report shall be prepared by a certified public accountant in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards and shall include accompanying financial statements. The audit report shall include an analysis of all revenues and expenditures associated with health care costs for the town, including employer and employee contribution requirements.
(c) In any year during which bonds, notes or an amortization amount authorized in this act remain outstanding, the town shall submit to the director quarterly reports presenting a budget to actual comparison of revenues and expenditures. The written reports shall be submitted within 30 days after the conclusion of each fiscal quarter and shall be in such form and include such information and detail as the director may prescribe.
(d) In any year during which bonds, notes or an amortization amount authorized in this act remain outstanding, the town shall not issue any bond, note or other form of indebtedness without written notification to, and the prior approval of, the director.
(e) In any year during which bonds, notes or an amortization amount authorized in this act remain outstanding, the town shall submit to the director a balance sheet and shall have its free cash certified before setting the annual tax rate.
(f) The director may waive any reporting or filing requirements contained in this section.
SECTION 4. No official of the town of Orange, except in the case of an emergency involving the health and safety of the people or their property, shall knowingly expend or cause to be expended in a fiscal year any sum in excess of that official's departmental or other governmental unit's appropriation duly made in accordance with the law, nor commit the town, nor cause it to be committed, to any obligation for the future payment of money in excess of that appropriation, with the exception of court judgments.
An official who intentionally violates this section shall be personally liable to the town for any amounts expended in excess of an appropriation which the town does not recover from the persons to whom the amounts were paid. The superior court or a single justice of the supreme judicial court shall have jurisdiction to adjudicate claims brought by the town under this act and to order such other relief as the court finds appropriate to prevent further violations of this section. A violation of this section shall be considered sufficient cause for removal of an official.
SECTION 5. For the purposes of this act, “official” shall mean a permanent, temporary or acting town department head, including members of the board of selectmen who recommend, authorize or approve the expenditure of funds, and “emergency” shall mean a major disaster including, but not limited to, flood, drought, fire, hurricane, earthquake, storm or other catastrophe, whether natural or otherwise, which poses an unexpected and immediate threat to the health and safety of persons or property.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
Approved, January 5, 2011.