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  • Acts
  • 2014
  • Chapter 80 AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MASHPEE WATER AND SEWER DISTRICT

    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.  Chapter 136 of the acts of 1987 is hereby amended by striking out sections 1 to 19, inclusive, as most recently amended by section 1 of chapter 488 of the acts of 2008, and inserting in place thereof the following 13 sections:-
     Section 1.  The inhabitants of the town of Mashpee liable to taxation in the town and residing in the territory comprised within the territorial limits of the town of Mashpee shall constitute a water and sewer district and are hereby made a body corporate by the name of the      Mashpee water and sewer district for the purpose of supplying themselves and others, for fair consideration, with water for the extinguishing of fires and for domestic and other purposes and for the purpose of establishing wastewater treatment works with the power to lay water and wastewater mains, establish groundwater treatment facilities, maintain individual wastewater treatment facilities, establish a water distribution system, establish fountains and hydrants and relocate and discontinue the same within the territorial limits of the town of Mashpee and within towns adjoining the town of Mashpee regulate the use of such water and fix and collect rates to be paid therefor, construct and finance such water treatment works and groundwater treatment facilities as may be necessary to deliver pure, healthful drinking water, do all things necessary and proper for the establishment of a wastewater treatment works and assess and raise taxes and impose fees as hereinafter provided for the payment of such services and defraying the necessary expenses of and the carrying on of the business of the district, subject to the General Laws relating to water and sewer districts, except as otherwise provided herein. For these purposes, the district may seek, obtain and accept any available capital and operating funds from the commonwealth or the federal government or any authority or entity created by the commonwealth or the federal government and accept donations, gifts of capital, operating funds, lands, easements, equipment or facilities from private sources. The district may prosecute and defend all actions relating to its property and affairs.
     The district and all of its revenue, income and real and personal property shall be exempt from taxation and from betterments and special assessments and the district shall not be required to pay any tax, excise or assessment to or for the commonwealth or any of its political subdivisions; provided, however, that the district may enter into agreements to make annual payments in lieu of taxes with respect to property of the district located outside the town of Mashpee’s territorial limits upon which local real estate taxes are being paid as of the effective date of the establishment of the Mashpee water and sewer district.  Bonds issued by the district and their transfer and the income therefrom, including any profit made on the sale thereof, shall be exempt from taxation within the commonwealth.
     Section 2.  (a) For the aforesaid purposes, the district, acting by and through its board of water and sewer commissioners, may:
     (i)  contract with a municipality, water company, water district or other entity for the purchase, acquisition by other means or sale of whatever water or waterworks or wastewater facilities that may be required, furnish or purchase the same and enter into such other contracts as may be necessary to effectuate the purposes of this act, subject to district meeting appropriation of any funds required to effectuate any purchase of waterworks or wastewater facilities;
     (ii)  apply for, receive, accept, administer, expend and comply with the conditions, obligations and requirements respecting any grant, gift or loan including, without limitation, any grant, gift or loan from agencies of local, state and federal governments, apply for, receive, accept, administer, expend and comply with the obligations, conditions and requirements respecting any donation or appropriation of property or money in aid of the purposes of the commission and accept contributions of money, property, labor or other thing of value;
     (iii)  assess betterments for the construction of water, sewer and wastewater facilities against the owners of land receiving a benefit or advantage thereby in accordance with chapter 80 of the General Laws and sections 15 to 15B, inclusive, of chapter 83 of the General Laws; provided, however, that any requirement in said chapter 80 or said sections 15 to 15B, inclusive, of said chapter 83 for a vote by the governing body of the municipality or for a ratification of the vote by the voters of the municipality shall be satisfied by a vote or resolution duly adopted by the board of water and sewer commissioners in accordance with this act;
     (iv)  enter into contracts and agreements with other municipalities in all matters necessary, convenient or desirable for carrying out this act including, without limitation, for the collection of revenue, data processing and other matters of management, administration and operation;
     (v)  take by eminent domain pursuant to chapter 79 or 80A of the General Laws or acquire, by lease, purchase, gift or otherwise and hold: (1) land, waters or any portion thereof; (2) pond, spring or stream; (3) groundwater sources of supply by means of driven, artesian or other wells within the territorial limits of the town of Mashpee or towns adjoining the town of Mashpee not already specifically appropriated for the purposes of a public water supply by another governmental body or for the purposes of wastewater treatment or disposal and the water and flowage rights connected with any such land or water sources; and (4) land, rights of way and other easements necessary for collecting, storing, holding, purifying and preserving the purity of the water and for conveying the same to any part of the district; provided, however, that any person or political subdivision of the commonwealth or body politic sustaining damages by a taking pursuant to this act or any other thing done pursuant to this act may recover such damages from the district pursuant to said chapter 79 or 80A; and provided further, that the right to damages for the taking of any water, water right or water source or for any injury thereto shall not vest until water is actually withdrawn or diverted pursuant to this act;
    (vi)  construct and maintain on the lands acquired and held under this act, proper dams, wells, springs, reservoirs, standpipes, tanks, pumping plants, buildings, fixtures and other structures, including the establishment and maintenance of purification works or systems, make excavations, procure and operate machinery and provide such other means and appliances and do such other things as may be necessary for the establishment and maintenance of complete and effective water or wastewater works and, for such purposes, construct pipe lines, wells and reservoirs, establish pumping works and construct, lay, acquire and maintain aqueducts, conduits, pipes and other works under or over any land, water courses, railroads, railways and public or other ways and along such ways in the town of Mashpee in such a manner so as not to unnecessarily obstruct the same;
     (vii)  for the purposes of constructing, laying, maintaining, operating and repairing aqueducts, conduits, pipes and other works and, for all other purposes of this act, dig up or raise and embank any lands, highways or other ways in such a manner as to cause the least hindrance to public travel on such ways; provided, however, that the manner in which such projects are completed upon such ways shall be subject to the direction of the appropriate governmental authority having jurisdiction over such ways;
     (viii)  enter upon any lands for water supply exploration, to make surveys or to test wells, pits or borings and take or otherwise acquire the right to occupy temporarily any lands necessary for the construction of any work or for any other purpose authorized by this act;
     (ix)  charge a systems development fee to those applicants seeking to connect to either the water supply system or to the wastewater treatment system; provided, however, that such funds shall be kept by the district treasurer in a separate account to be appropriated by a district meeting and applied, as needed, for the cost of acquisition or development of new well fields, storage and distribution systems and for the purchase of all related materials, equipment, labor, work and other items associated therewith which will contribute to the betterment of the waterworks and wastewater systems; and provided further, that applicants seeking to connect to the wastewater treatment system who have previously paid a systems development fee for connection to the water distribution system shall be subject only to such systems development fee for connection to the wastewater treatment system;
     (x)  sell such of the property of the district from time to time as shall, in the opinion of the board of water and sewer commissioners, be no longer useful in the conduct of the affairs of the district;
     (xi)  employ personnel and engage architectural, engineering, accounting, management, legal, financial and environmental consulting and other professional services;
     (xii)  adopt rules, regulations and policies governing the management of the waterworks and wastewater systems, the use and consumption of water and the output into the system of wastewater and deny any connection to the district for any proposed connection that would be inconsistent with its rules, regulations and policies or which would place an undue burden on the resources of the district or unduly tax its capacity to supply water or to treat wastewater;
     (xiii)  establish specific construction standards and specifications for the water supply system and wastewater treatment works;
     (xiv)  purchase insurance on behalf of itself and any of its members, officers, employees or agents against any liability arising out of any such member’s, officer’s, employee’s or agent’s status as such, whether or not the district would have the power to indemnify such person against such liability; and
     (xv)  do all things necessary, convenient or desirable for carrying out this act or the powers expressly granted or necessarily implied by this act, including entering into agreements with other cities, towns or commissions or, with prior district meeting approval, any private person or entity to provide for the joint operation of public activities in accordance with section 4A of chapter 40 of the General Laws; provided, however, that for the purposes of said section 4A of said chapter 40, the board of water and sewer commissioners shall have the powers of a prudential committee; and provided further, that in carrying out the powers conferred by this clause and in recognition of the shared water bodies, estuaries, surface and groundwater resources and wastewater treatment needs of the surrounding towns of Barnstable, Falmouth and Sandwich and of Barnstable county generally, the district shall not be constrained or limited to ownership of real or personal property solely within the territorial limits of the town of Mashpee and it shall not be constrained to service customers only within the territorial limits of the town of Mashpee but may engage in the joint operation of public activities or participate in such regional provision of water and wastewater treatment works as the board of water and sewer commissioners shall deem appropriate.
     (b)  Consistent with the constitution and laws of the commonwealth, the district shall have such other powers, including all powers pertaining to a waterworks system and a sewer works system held by a municipality and not inconsistent with this act as may be necessary for or incident to carrying out the foregoing powers and the accomplishment of the purposes of this act; provided, however, that nothing in this act shall impose a duty on the district to maintain groundwater levels within or without the boundaries of the district.
     (c)  Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the district shall not engage in the treatment or disposal of stormwater or engage in stormwater discharge remediation but shall exercise its powers only with respect to the treatment and disposal of wastewater or groundwater and the provision of waterworks for the extinguishment of fires and for domestic and other purposes as set forth in this act.
     Section 3.  The district shall elect by ballot, in an election held contemporaneously with the annual election in the town of Mashpee, 3 persons, who shall be inhabitants of and voters in the district, to hold office for 3 years each, to constitute a board of water and sewer commissioners. The terms of the commissioners shall be staggered and the duly elected board of water commissioners of the Mashpee water district holding office on the effective date of the establishment of the Mashpee water and sewer district shall serve as water and sewer commissioners until their respective terms shall be complete. All authority granted to the district by this act and by the General Laws, except as provided in sections 4 and 6 and not otherwise specifically provided for, shall be vested in the board of water and sewer commissioners, who shall be subject to such instructions and by-laws as the district may impose by vote. The district, acting through the board, shall appoint, for such term as it may determine, a district clerk and a district treasurer and such other officers and employees not specifically provided for in this act as it may deem necessary and proper and shall fix their compensation.  The district treasurer shall not be a member of the board and shall give bond to the district in such amount as may be approved by the board with a surety company authorized to transact business in the commonwealth as a surety. A majority of commissioners shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of business. A vacancy occurring on the board from any cause may be filled for the remainder of its unexpired term by the district at any legal meeting called for such purpose or by a vote of the remaining commissioners.  No money shall be drawn from the district on account of its water or wastewater works except upon a written order of a majority of the commissioners.  Any personal property or real estate taken, purchased or acquired by the Mashpee water district shall be managed, improved and controlled by the board established in this section in such a manner as it deems in the best interest of the district.
     Section 4.  Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, the district, for the purpose of paying other necessary expenses and liabilities incurred under this act, other than expenses of maintenance and operation, may borrow from time to time such additional sums as may be necessary not exceeding, in the aggregate, $500,000,000 and may issue bonds or notes therefor which shall bear on their face the words Mashpee Water and Sewer District Loan Act of 2014 and such other distinguishing designation as may be determined by the board and each authorized issue shall constitute a separate loan and each such loan shall be payable not more than 40 years from its date of issuance.
     The district may borrow from time to time such sums as may be necessary for the purposes of this act in anticipation of revenue. Indebtedness incurred under this act shall, except as otherwise provided herein, be subject to chapter 44 of the General Laws. Each such borrowing and each issue of bonds or notes shall constitute a separate loan, shall be authorized by the affirmative vote of not less than two-thirds of those present at an annual or special meeting of the district and shall be upon the full faith and credit of the district. All bonds or notes issued pursuant to this act shall be obligatory upon the district and its inhabitants and the property within the limits of the district. The district shall, at the time of authorizing any such loan, provide for the payment thereof as authorized hereunder. When a vote to this effect has been passed, a sum which, with available income derived from water rates, shall be sufficient to pay the annual expense of operating its water and wastewater works and the interest as it accrues on the bonds or notes issued as aforesaid by the district and to make such payments on the principal as may be required under this act, shall, without further vote, be assessed upon the district by the district assessors annually thereafter until the debt incurred by any such loan is extinguished.
     Section 5.  The district, acting by and through the board shall fix just and equitable prices, charges, fees and rates for the use of water, determined by the cost of producing the same, and shall prescribe the time and manner of payment. The income of the waterworks shall be available for appropriation to defray all operating expenses, interest charges and payments on principal of any loan, as accruing upon any bonds or notes issued pursuant to this act.
     The district, acting by and through the board shall fix just and equitable prices, charges, fees and rates for the use of the district's wastewater treatment works.  The income of the wastewater treatment works shall be available for appropriation to defray all operating expenses, interest charges and payments on principal of any loan, as accruing upon any bonds or notes issued pursuant to this act.
     If there is a net surplus remaining at the end of a fiscal year after the payment of all costs of operation, the net surplus may be appropriated by a district meeting for systems development costs as recommended by the board of water and sewer commissioners and, in the absence of any such recommendation, shall be applied to pay costs of operation for the district for the succeeding fiscal year. Any systems development charge funds held in a separate account shall be excluded in the determination of net surplus.
     The fiscal year of the district shall commence July 1 and end June 30 unless otherwise provided in the by-laws.
     Notwithstanding this act or any other general or special law to the contrary, the district may establish a revolving fund which shall be kept separate and apart from all other funds by the district treasurer and into which shall be deposited only the fees received from the installation of water service and water meters. Money in the fund may be expended without appropriation for the payment of contractors performing water service and water meter installation; provided, however, that no expenditures from the fund shall be made in a fiscal year that would result in district expenditures greater than the total amount appropriated by the district meeting for that fiscal year.
     Section 6.  If for any reason the revenues and available funds of the district, including revenues from prices, charges, fees and rates for the use of water and the district's wastewater treatment works as provided in section 5, shall not be sufficient to pay the full cost of the development and operation of the district, the district may, by vote at a district meeting duly called by the board of water and sewer commissioners, raise and appropriate, by a district tax, sufficient funds to pay the full cost of the development or operation of the district and promptly thereafter the district clerk shall send a certified copy of the vote to the district assessors who shall assess the same on property within the district in the same manner in all respects in which taxes in the town of Mashpee are required by law to be assessed.
     For such periods as the board of water and sewer commissioners may request, the board of assessors of the town of Mashpee shall be the district assessors. During those periods, the board of assessors of the town of Mashpee shall receive such salary for their services as district assessors as shall be agreed upon by the board of water and sewer commissioners. All district assessments shall be committed to the district tax collector who shall collect the tax in the manner provided by law for the collection of taxes and deposit the proceeds thereof with the district treasurer for the use and benefit of the district.
     For such periods as the board of water and sewer commissioners may request, the tax collector of the town of Mashpee shall be the district tax collector. During those periods, the tax collector of the town of Mashpee shall receive such salary for services as the district tax collector as shall be agreed upon by the board of water and sewer commissioners. Nothing herein shall be construed to limit the authority of the district to hire its own assessors or tax collector and to pay for the same from the district’s revenues. Any costs incurred by either the board of assessors or the tax collector of the town of Mashpee in performing services hereunder shall be paid for by the district unless otherwise provided in any intermunicipal agreement between the town and the district.
     Section 7.  Notwithstanding section 53 of chapter 44 of the General Laws or any other general or special law to the contrary, the district may establish a Betterment Reserve Fund which shall be kept separate and apart from all other funds of the district by the district treasurer. All betterment payments, whether apportioned or unapportioned, received by the district shall be deposited into the fund.  The district treasurer may invest such funds in the manner provided in sections 54 and 55 of said chapter 44. The principal and interest thereon shall be reserved for appropriation for the payment of the district's betterment debt. Any excess in the fund may be transferred to the general fund of the district.
     Section 8.  The district may, for the purpose of creating a stabilization fund, appropriate in any fiscal year an amount not to exceed 10 per cent of the amount raised in the preceding fiscal year by taxation of real estate. Any interest accruing thereon shall be added to and become a part of the fund. The stabilization fund may be appropriated at an annual district meeting by a two­thirds vote for any purpose for which the district would be authorized to borrow money.
     Section 9.  The district assessors may create an overlay fund by adding to the amount to be assessed pursuant to section 25 of chapter 59 of the General Laws.
     Section 10.  The district may, by vote at a district meeting, provide for the levy of special assessments to meet, in whole or in part, the cost thereafter incurred of laying pipes in public and private ways for the conveyance or distribution of water to its inhabitants in accordance with sections 42G to 42I, inclusive, of chapter 40 of the General Laws.
     Section 11.  The district may, at any annual or special district meeting, adopt by-laws regulating the call of district meetings and the necessary quorum at any meeting and may adopt such other by-laws as may be appropriate for the operation of the district. All district meetings shall be called pursuant to a warrant issued by the board of water and sewer commissioners. The procedure for the call of a meeting, publication of the warrant and conduct of the meeting shall be in accordance with chapter 39 of the General Laws unless otherwise provided in the district by-laws. The by-laws may allow for such other officers not provided for in this act as deemed necessary or proper.
     Section 12.  Whoever willfully or wantonly corrupts, pollutes or diverts any water obtained or supplied pursuant to this act or whoever willfully or wantonly injures a reservoir, well, standpipe, aqueduct, pipe, treatment works, transmission line for water or wastewater or any other property of the district, whether real or personal, shall forfeit to the district 3 times the amount of damages assessed therefor, together with reasonable attorneys fees and costs of suit, including expert consultant and expert witness fees, as may be recovered in an action of tort. Whoever engages in any such willful or wanton acts shall be punished by a fine of not more than $5,000 or imprisonment in a house of correction for not more than 2 and one-half years or both such fine and imprisonment.
     Whoever negligently corrupts, pollutes or diverts any water obtained or supplied pursuant to this act or whoever negligently injures a reservoir, well, standpipe, aqueduct, pipe, treatment works, transmission line for water or wastewater or any other property of the district, whether real or personal, shall forfeit to the district the amount of damages assessed therefor, together with reasonable attorneys fees and costs of suit, including expert consultant and expert witness fees, as may be recovered in an action of tort.
     Section 13.  The district may, by vote of the board of water and sewer commissioners, join or participate in a regional water or sewer commission either by intermunicipal agreement, pursuant to clause (xv) of section 2 by the authority granted in section 11 or by any other manner provided by law.
     SECTION 2.  At the next annual district election following the effective date of this act, the board of water commissioners of the Mashpee water district shall cause to appear on the ballot the following question:
     “SHALL SECTION 1 OF AN ACT PASSED BY THE GENERAL COURT IN 2014 ENTITLED ‘AN ACT AUTHORIZING THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MASHPEE WATER AND SEWER DISTRICT’ BE APPROVED?”
     Below the ballot question shall appear a fair and concise summary of the ballot question approved by the board of water commissioners of the Mashpee water district.
     If a majority of the voters of the Mashpee water district vote in the affirmative on the foregoing question, section 1 shall take effect and the Mashpee water and sewer district shall be established, but not otherwise, and all prior actions taken by the board of water commissioners of the Mashpee water district, Mashpee water district meeting, the treasurer of the Mashpee water district and all other officers of the Mashpee water district shall remain in effect and be binding on the Mashpee water and sewer district without the necessity of confirmation, ratification or further action pursuant to this act.
     Until section l takes effect and until the execution of an intermunicipal agreement authorized in section 5, the responsibilities, duties and powers of the town of Mashpee relative to public sewer and wastewater treatment and disposal functions within the geographical boundaries of the town of Mashpee shall remain in full  force and effect.
     Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, no act of the town of Mashpee prior to the effective date of section 1 or the effective date of any intermunicipal agreement authorized in section 5 shall bind the board of water and sewer commissioners of the Mashpee water and sewer district; provided, however, that the board of water and sewer commissioners may, in its discretion, agree by vote of a majority of the commissioners to assume or undertake any act, contract or liability incurred by the sewer commission of the town of Mashpee or any other instrumentality of the town prior to such effective dates.
     SECTION 3.  Subsection (d) of section 3-2 of the charter of the town of Mashpee is hereby amended by striking out the words “, a sewer commission”.
     SECTION 4.  Chapter 136 of the acts of 1987 shall not be subject to repeal or amendment through the adoption, revision or amendment of the charter of the town of Mashpee.
     SECTION 5.  The Mashpee water and sewer district and the town of Mashpee may enter into an intermunicipal agreement on such terms and conditions as may be mutually agreed upon to transfer from the town to the district all property, permits, licenses, agreements, contracts, lands, wastewater treatment facilities or other tangible or intangible property of any kind and nature which are necessary or convenient to transfer all of the town's wastewater treatment operations to the Mashpee water and sewer district.
     SECTION 6.  Section 1 shall take effect upon its acceptance by the voters of the Mashpee water district.
     SECTION 7.  Sections 2 and 4 shall take effect upon their passage.
     SECTION 8.  Sections 3 and 5 shall take effect upon the acceptance of section 1 by the voters of the Mashpee water district.

Approved, April 18, 2014.