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The 191st General Court of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts

AN ACT PROVIDING FOR THE FINANCIAL STABILITY OF THE CITY OF METHUEN.

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) As used in this act, the following words shall have the following meanings unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

“Chief administrative and financial officer”, the chief administrative and financial officer of the city appointed pursuant to section 3.

“City”, the city of Methuen.

“Director of accounts”, the director of accounts in the department of revenue.

“Finance control board”, the finance control board of the city established pursuant to section 9.

“Fiscal stability officer”, the fiscal stability officer for the city appointed by the secretary of administration and finance pursuant to section 6. 

“Overseer”, the fiscal overseer for the city appointed by the secretary of administration and finance pursuant to section 7.

“School committee”, the school committee of the city. 

“Secretary”, the secretary of administration and finance.

SECTION 2. (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law, city charter provision or local ordinance to the contrary, the city, with the approval of the director of accounts, may borrow sums in amounts which shall be approved by the city council and the director of accounts to achieve a balanced budget for fiscal years 2019 and 2020; provided, however, that the aggregate amount of such sums shall not exceed $4,000,000. The director of accounts may limit the amount borrowed to less than the amount approved by the city council. Notwithstanding chapter 44A of the General Laws, but subject to section 12 of said chapter 44A, bonds or notes issued under this act may be issued, with the approval of the director of accounts, for terms of not more than 10 years, shall be backed by the full faith and credit of the city and shall be eligible to be issued as qualified bonds or notes. Indebtedness incurred pursuant to this act shall not be included in determining the statutory limit of indebtedness of the city under section 10 of said chapter 44 but, except as otherwise provided in this act, shall be subject to said chapter 44. Amounts raised to pay indebtedness incurred pursuant to this section shall be subject to section 21C of chapter 59 of the General Laws.

(b) The maturity of the bonds or notes authorized pursuant to this act, including any refunding bonds, may, if approved by the city officers authorized to issue and approve bonds or notes and by the director of accounts, 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) Proceeds of any bonds or notes issued pursuant to this act shall be deposited in the general fund of the city.

(d) The director of accounts may establish rules and procedures relating to the accounting standards applicable to the city for the purposes of this act and otherwise.

SECTION 3. (a) Notwithstanding any general or special law, city charter provision or local ordinance to the contrary, there shall be in the city a department of administration and finance which shall be responsible for the overall budgetary and financial administration of the city. The department shall be under the direction and control of a chief administrative and financial officer. The chief administrative and financial officer shall report to and be under the charge and direction of the mayor. Nothing in this section shall abrogate the powers and duties of the city council or the school committee under any general or special law, except as specifically provided in this section.

Whenever the term “chief financial officer” or “director of budget and finance” appears in a general or special law, charter provision or an ordinance, regulation, contract or other document with reference to the city, it shall mean the chief administrative and financial officer of the city. 

(b)(1) The chief administrative and financial officer shall be appointed solely on the basis of administrative and executive qualifications and shall be a person especially fitted by education, training and experience to perform the duties of the office. The chief administrative and financial officer need not be a resident of the city.

(2) When the office of the chief administrative and financial officer becomes vacant or it is known that it will become vacant, the mayor and the city council shall jointly initiate the selection process by giving notice of the intention to establish a screening committee to review applicants for the position and shall send a copy of the notice to each agency or officer responsible for appointing persons to serve on the screening committee. The screening committee shall be formed not later than 21 days after the notice has been sent. No screening committee shall be required if the mayor reappoints an incumbent officer who shall be confirmed by a 2/3 majority vote of the full city council. 

(3) The screening committee shall consist of 7 members, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the school committee, 3 of whom shall be appointed by the city council, of whom 1 shall be an expert in municipal management, 1 of whom shall be appointed by the secretary and 2 of whom shall be appointed by the mayor, of whom 1 shall be an expert in municipal management.

(4) The screening committee shall recommend to the mayor the names of not less than 2 and not more than 5 candidates whom the majority of the screening committee members believe to be best suited to perform the duties of the chief administrative and financial officer. If the screening committee determines that there is not at least 2 candidates qualified to perform the duties of the chief administrative and financial officer, the screening committee shall report to the mayor and the city council that it is unable to complete its assigned task and the mayor and the city council shall direct the screening committee to reopen the search.

(5) The mayor shall appoint, subject to approval by a 2/3 majority vote of the full city council, 1 of the candidates recommended by the screening committee as the chief administrative and financial officer; provided, however, that if the mayor finds that no recommended candidate is qualified for the office, the mayor and the city council shall direct the screening committee to reopen the search.

(c) Appointments to the position of chief administrative and financial officer pursuant to subsection (b) shall be for 3-year terms; provided, however, that an incumbent officer may be reappointed by the mayor, subject to confirmation by a 2/3 majority vote of the full city council.

(d) If a note issued under section 2 remains outstanding, the appointment, including an acting appointment, or removal of the officer shall not take effect until it has been approved in writing by the secretary.

(e) The powers and duties of the chief administrative and financial officer shall include: 

(i) coordinating, administering and supervising all financial services and activities in all departments, including the school department, boards, commissions, agencies, offices and other units of city government;

(ii) assisting in all matters related to municipal financial affairs in all departments, including the school department, boards, commissions, agencies, offices and other units of city government;

(iii) implementing and maintaining uniform systems, controls and procedures for all financial activities in all departments, including the school department, boards, commissions, agencies, offices and other units of city government the operations of which have a financial impact upon the general fund and enterprise funds of the city, and including, but not limited to, maintaining all financial and accounting data and records;

(iv) implementing and maintaining uniform financial data processing capabilities for all departments, including the school department, boards, commissions, agencies, offices and other units of city government; 

(v) supervising all financial data processing activities of those agencies, offices and other units of city government; 

(vi) reviewing all current and proposed activities of all departments, including the school department, boards, commissions, agencies, offices and other units of city government;

(vii) implementing and maintaining uniform budget guidelines and procedures within all departments, including the school department, boards, commissions, agencies, offices and other units of city government;

(viii) assisting in the development and preparation of budgets and spending plans of all departments, including the school department, boards, commissions, agencies, offices and other units of city government contracts to which the city is a party; 

(ix) monitoring the expenditure of all city funds, including periodic reporting by and to appropriate agencies of the status of accounts; and

(x) reviewing the spending plan for each department, including the school department, board, commission, agency, office and other units of city government. 

(f) Within a reasonable period of time, as determined by the requestor on a case by case basis, after receiving a written request from the mayor or a written request from the city council, the chief administrative and financial officer shall provide an oral or written assessment, or both, as the mayor or city council may request, of the current and future financial impact of the cost of any proposed appropriation, lease or contract arrangement for a term of more than 1 fiscal year, collective bargaining agreement or borrowing authorization which shall include, but not be limited to, an assessment of how that cost item would relate to the continuous provision of the existing level of municipal services. To the extent reasonable, the assessment shall include an analysis or other information of a financial nature requested by the mayor or the city council. If the chief administrative and financial officer fails to comply with the request, the failure to comply shall be submitted to the fiscal stability officer for review and resolution for noncompliance. The assessment and analysis shall be provided by the officer as a professional opinion.

If a duty is not expressly charged to any other department, city council, school committee, board, commission, agency or office, it shall be the duty of the chief administrative and financial officer to promote, secure and preserve the financial interests of the city. 

(g) The city shall be deemed to have accepted section 37M of chapter 71 of the General Laws for the purposes of consolidating the business and financial operations and functions of the school department with those of the city under the authority of the chief administrative and financial officer. The acceptance may be revoked but the city shall not revoke acceptance of said section 37M of said chapter 71 in any year in which a loan issued under section 2 remains outstanding. 

(h) The budget and requests for budget transfers of each department, including the school department, boards, commissions, agencies, offices and other units of city government shall be submitted to the chief administrative and financial officer for review and recommendation before submission to the mayor, city council or school committee, as appropriate. For each proposed appropriation order, lease or contract arrangement for a term of more than 1 fiscal year, collective bargaining agreement and with respect to any proposed city council vote necessary to effectuate a financial transfer, ordinance revision or special legislation which may require the expenditure of funds or would otherwise financially obligate the city for a period in excess of 1 year or with respect to a vote to authorize borrowing under a law other than section 4, 6 or 6A of chapter 44 of the General Laws, the officer shall submit in writing to the mayor and city council and, if appropriate, the school committee, a certification that it is the chief administrative and financial officer’s professional opinion, after an evaluation of all pertinent financial information reasonably available, that the city's financial resources and revenues are and will continue to be adequate to support such proposed expenditures or obligations without a detrimental impact on the continuous provision of the existing level of municipal services. If the chief administrative and financial officer fails to provide such certification within 7 days after a request for such certification from the mayor, city council or school committee, the appropriation order, financial transfer, ordinance revision, special legislation, borrowing authorization, lease or contract arrangement for a term of more than 1 fiscal year, or collective bargaining agreement may be approved; provided, however, that the absence of the certification of the officer shall be expressly noted in the order or vote.

(i) All departments, including the school department, boards, commissions, agencies, offices and other units of city government shall submit budget requests to the mayor upon the schedule and in the form established by the chief administrative and financial officer.

(j) Annually, not later than March 30, the officer shall submit a 4-year revenue and expenditure financial forecast and a 5-year capital plan to the mayor and city council which shall include all capital needs of the city.

(k) The board of assessors, treasurer-collector, budget director, director of information technology, purchasing agent, director of human resources, labor relations director, school business manager and employees performing similar duties but with different titles shall report to and be under the direction of the chief administrative and financial officer. The chief administrative and financial officer, with the approval of the mayor and city council, shall appoint all such officers and employees. 

(l) The chief administrative and financial officer shall not hold an elective office and shall devote the officer’s full time and attention to the officer’s duties. 

(m) The city shall annually appropriate amounts sufficient for the proper administration of the department as determined in writing by the secretary. If the city fails to appropriate such amounts, the secretary shall direct the state treasurer to deduct the necessary funds from the city’s distribution of the unrestricted general aid and shall expend those funds directly for the benefit of the department.

(n) In any year in which bonds or notes issued under section 1 remains outstanding, the officer shall submit to the director of accounts all reports required under section 4.

SECTION 4. (a) For fiscal year 2019 not later than 10 days after the effective date of this act, and any other fiscal year in which notes issued pursuant to this act remain outstanding, not later than 10 days after the adoption of the city budget or on July 1, whichever occurs first, the chief administrative and financial officer shall submit to the director of accounts a pro forma tax rate recapitulation for the following fiscal year, together with a copy of the adopted budget and any supporting revenue and expenditure information as the director may request. The director of accounts shall ascertain whether the city budget for that fiscal year contains reasonable revenues from taxation and other sources to meet the appropriations and other amounts required to be raised pursuant to section 23 of chapter 59 of the General Laws and the director shall report the findings to the mayor and the city council. The tax rate for the fiscal year shall not be approved until an annual tax rate recapitulation is submitted to the director of accounts that reflects the actions the city has approved or taken to achieve a balanced budget.

(b) In any fiscal year during which bonds or notes issued pursuant to this act remain outstanding, the commissioner of revenue shall not certify the annual tax rate of the city until an audit report for the preceding fiscal year has been received and accepted by the director of accounts. The audit report shall be prepared by a certified public accountant in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards and shall include relevant financial statements.

(c) In any fiscal year during which bonds or notes issued pursuant to this act remain outstanding, the city shall submit to the director of accounts quarterly reports presenting a budget to actual comparison of revenues and expenditures. The written reports shall be submitted not later than 30 days after the conclusion of each fiscal quarter and shall be in such form and include such information and detail as the director of accounts may prescribe.

(d) In any year during which bonds or notes issued pursuant to this act remain outstanding, the city shall not issue any bond, note or other form of indebtedness without written notification to and approval of the director of accounts.

(e) In any year during which bonds or notes issued pursuant to this act remain outstanding, the city shall submit to the director of accounts a balance sheet and shall have its free cash certified before setting the annual tax rate.

(f) In any year in which bonds or notes issued pursuant to this act remain outstanding, the director of accounts may waive reporting, filing or approval requirements contained in this section if the director determines it is appropriate to effectuate the purposes of this act.

SECTION 5. (a) For the purposes of this section, the following words shall have the following meaning unless the context clearly requires otherwise:

“Emergency”, 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.

“Official”, a permanent, temporary or acting city department head.

(b) No official of the city, except in the case of an emergency, 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 law and no official shall commit the city or cause the city to be committed to any obligation for the future payment of money in excess of that appropriation, except for court judgments. An official who intentionally violates this section shall be personally liable to the city for the amounts expended in excess of an appropriation to the extent that the city does not recover these amounts from the person 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 city or by the attorney general under this section and to order relief that the court finds appropriate to prevent further violations of this section. 

(c) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, any violation of this section shall be considered sufficient cause for removal by the school department or general government appointing authority pursuant to subsection (c) of section 9-10 of article 9 of the city charter.

SECTION 6. (a) Not later than 30 days after the effective date of this act, the secretary of administration and finance shall appoint a fiscal stability officer for the city to advise the city government officials while they manage the city’s fiscal challenges. The stability officer shall:

(i) recommend to the mayor, city council and school committee sound fiscal policies;

(ii) advise the chief administrative and financial officer, assessors, auditor, treasurer, collector, purchasing agent, school business manager and employees performing similar duties but with different titles;

(iii) assist in all matters related to municipal financial affairs, including those concerning the school department;

(iv) assist in the development and preparation of all department budgets and spending plans;

(v) validate and report on the value of all current and proposed contracts and obligations;

(vi) validate and report on the value of all proposed contracts executed pursuant to chapter 150E of the General Laws;

(vii) provide a written overview on the annual budget proposal submitted by the mayor;

(viii) provide a written overview on the final budget as approved by the city council, including any appropriation necessary to support a collective bargaining agreement executed pursuant to said chapter 150E;

(ix) provide a written overview on any supplemental budgets submitted to the city council, including any supplemental budget request necessary to support a collective bargaining agreement executed pursuant to said chapter 150E;

(x) be informed of and opine upon all budget transfer requests before their submission to the city council or school committee, including any budget transfer request necessary to support a collective bargaining agreement executed pursuant to said chapter 150E;

(xi) opine and provide written approval on any proposed use of free cash, overlay surplus or other 1-time revenues as determined by the fiscal stability officer; and

(xii) report quarterly to the secretary, to the house and senate committees on ways and means and to the mayor and city council on the progress made towards reducing the city’s capital and structural deficits.

(b) The city shall bear the cost of any consultants obtained on the city’s behalf if recommended by the fiscal stability officer. The aggregate of all consultant contracts shall not exceed $100,000 on an annual fiscal year basis.

(c) Not later than 180 days after the effective date of this act, the mayor shall submit to the city council the 5-year capital plan required by subsection (j) of section 3. Upon submission to the city council, the fiscal stability officer shall provide a written review of the proposed capital plan. 

(d) On or before January 2, 2019, the mayor shall submit in writing to the city council, the 4-year revenue and expenditure forecast required by subsection (j) of section 3. 

(e) Thereafter, the mayor shall submit the forecast in writing annually by May 1, along with the mayor’s annual budget proposal. The forecast shall be reviewed by the fiscal stability officer prior to its submission to the city council.

(f) The fiscal stability officer, in consultation with the department of elementary and secondary education, shall conduct a review of the school department’s fiscal years 2018 and 2019 budget and spending. The cost of the review shall be borne by the city. The school department for the city shall cooperate with the review to the maximum extent permissible under state and federal law.

(g) After July 1, 2020 and while debt issued pursuant to this act is outstanding, if a fiscal overseer has not been appointed and if the secretary of administration and finance, in the secretary’s sole discretion, determines that the city has taken the steps necessary to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability and no longer requires active state oversight, the secretary may abolish the position of fiscal stability officer. 

SECTION 7. (a) The fiscal stability officer shall report to the secretary in writing and include the underlying reasons if the city cannot set a tax rate for any fiscal year by January 31 of that year. 

(b) The fiscal stability officer shall report to the secretary in writing if the officer concludes that the city: (i) is unable to achieve a balanced budget; (ii) faces a fiscal crisis that poses an imminent danger to the safety of the citizens of the city and their property; or (iii) will not achieve fiscal stability without the assistance of a fiscal overseer. 

(c) If the fiscal stability officer reports to the secretary under subsections (a) and (b), the secretary shall immediately abolish the fiscal stability officer and appoint a fiscal overseer as recommended by the fiscal stability officer. 

(d) A fiscal overseer appointed under this section shall have all of the powers and duties set forth in section 8. 

(e) If the director notifies the secretary in writing that the city is unable to achieve a balanced budget or set a tax rate at any time after the abolition of the fiscal stability officer and while any debt issued pursuant to this act is still outstanding, then the secretary shall establish a fiscal overseer.

SECTION 8. (a) If a fiscal overseer is appointed under section 7, the fiscal overseer shall assess the ability of the city government to manage the city’s fiscal challenges. The fiscal overseer shall, without limitation:

(i) recommend to the mayor, city council and school committee sound fiscal policies for implementation;

(ii) advise the chief financial officer, assessors, comptroller, treasurer, collector, purchasing agent, school business manager and employees performing similar duties but with different titles;

(iii) assist in all matters related to municipal financial affairs, including those concerning the school department;

(iv) assist in the development and preparation of all department budgets and spending plans;

(v) approve or reject all proposed contracts and obligations with a term of 1 year or more; 

(vi) approve or reject all collective bargaining agreements entered into by the city or by the school department on or after the effective date of this act, based on the fiscal overseer’s determination, after an evaluation of all pertinent financial information reasonably available, as to whether the city’s financial resources are and will continue to be adequate to support such collective bargaining agreements without a detrimental impact on the continuing provision of the existing level of municipal services; provided, however, that the overseer’s determination shall be set forth in a certified report to the secretary with a statement of reasons and shall occur before cost items in the agreement are submitted to the mayor and city council; 

(vii) approve the annual budget proposal submitted by the mayor;

(viii) approve any supplemental budgets submitted to the city council;

(ix) approve, reject or modify all budget transfer requests before submission to the city council or school committee;

(x) approve, reject or modify any proposed use of free cash, overlay surplus or other 1-time revenues as determined by the fiscal overseer; and

(xi) report quarterly to the secretary, to the house and senate committees on ways and means and to the mayor and city council of the city on the progress made towards reducing the city’s capital and structural deficits.

(b) The city shall annually appropriate amounts sufficient for the proper administration of the fiscal overseer and staff, as determined in writing by the secretary. If the city fails to appropriate such amounts, the secretary shall direct the state treasurer to deduct the necessary funds from the city’s distribution of unrestricted general aid and shall expend those funds directly for the benefit of the fiscal overseer and staff.

(c) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, if the city reaches an impasse in its collective bargaining negotiations with any bargaining unit that represents any city employees, the exclusive remedy for resolving such impasse shall be as set forth in section 9 of chapter 150E of the General Laws. Arbitration under said section 9 of said chapter 150E shall occur only if the fiscal overseer consents after the overseer’s evaluation of all pertinent financial information that is reasonably available. If the fiscal overseer does not consent, the fiscal overseer shall state the reasons for such failure to consent in a written report to the mayor and city council. 

SECTION 9. (a) The fiscal overseer shall report to the secretary in writing and shall include the underlying reasons if the city cannot set a tax rate for any fiscal year by January 31 of that year. 

(b) The fiscal overseer shall report to the secretary and to the mayor and city council in writing if the fiscal overseer concludes that the city: (i) is unable to achieve a balanced budget; (ii) faces a fiscal crisis that poses an imminent danger to the safety of the citizens of the city and their property; or (iii) will not achieve fiscal stability without the assistance of a finance control board. 

(c) If the fiscal overseer reports to the secretary under subsections (a) and (b), the secretary shall immediately abolish the position of fiscal overseer and appoint a finance control board. 

(d) A finance control board appointed under this section shall have all of the powers and duties set forth in section 10. 

(e) If the director of accounts notifies the secretary in writing that the city is unable to achieve a balanced budget or set a tax rate at any time after the abolition of the overseer and while the debt issued under this act is still outstanding, then the secretary shall establish a finance control board. 

(f) At any time after July 1, 2020 and while debt issued under this act is outstanding, if a finance control board has not been appointed and if the secretary, in the secretary’s sole discretion, determines that the city has taken steps necessary to achieve long-term fiscal sustainability and no longer requires active state oversight, the secretary may abolish the overseer.

SECTION 10. (a) If a finance control board is established pursuant to section 9, it shall consist of 7 members, 4 of whom shall be designees of the secretary, 1 of whom shall be the mayor of the city, 1 of whom shall be the chair of the city council and a designee. The board shall act by a majority vote of all its members. The board shall initiate and assure the implementation of appropriate measures to secure the financial stability of the city. The board shall continue in existence until it is abolished by the secretary. The board shall be a state agency for the purposes of chapter 268A of the General Laws.

(b) Action by the finance control board under this act shall constitute action by the city for all purposes under the General Laws and under any special law. 

(c) Until the finance control board ceases to exist, no appropriation, borrowing authorization, transfer or other municipal spending authority shall take effect until approved by the board. The board shall approve all appropriations, borrowing authorizations, transfers and other municipal spending authorizations, in whole or in part.

(d) In addition to the authority and powers conferred elsewhere in this act and notwithstanding any city charter provision or local ordinance to the contrary, the finance control board may: 

(i) amend, formulate and execute the annual budget and supplemental budgets of the city and the school committee, including the establishment, increase or decrease of any appropriations and spending authority for all departments, boards, committees, agencies and other units of city government and the school committee; provided, however, that notwithstanding section 34 of chapter 71 of the General Laws, this clause shall apply to the school department and all school spending purposes; 

(ii) implement and maintain uniform budget guidelines and procedures for all departments; 

(iii) amend, formulate and execute capital budgets, including amending any borrowing authorization or financing or refinancing any debt in accordance with law; 

(iv) amortize operational deficits in such amount and for such term as the secretary approves annually;

(v) develop and maintain a uniform system for all financial planning and operations in all departments, including the school department, offices, boards, commissions, committees, agencies and other units of city government; 

(vi) review and approve or disapprove all proposed contracts for goods or services; 

(vii) approve or reject all collective bargaining agreements entered into by the city or by the school department on or after the effective date of this act, based on the board’s determination, after an evaluation of all pertinent financial information reasonably available, as to whether the city’s financial resources are and will continue to be adequate to support such collective bargaining agreement without a detrimental impact on the continuing provision of the existing level of municipal services; provided, however, that the board’s determination shall be set forth in a certified report to the secretary with a statement of reasons and shall occur before cost items in the agreement are submitted to the city’s mayor and city council; 

(viii) notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, establish, increase or decrease any fee, rate or charge for any service, license, permit or other municipal activity within the authority of the city; 

(ix) appoint, remove, supervise and control all city employees and have control over all personnel matters; provided, however, that the board shall hold all existing powers to hire, to terminate and to set the terms and conditions of employment held by other employees or officers of the city, whether or not elected; provided further, that the board shall have the authority to exercise all powers otherwise available to a municipality regarding contractual obligations during a fiscal emergency; provided further, that no city employee or officer shall hire, terminate, transfer or alter the compensation or benefits of a city employee except with the written approval of the board; and provided further, that the board may delegate or otherwise assign these powers with the approval of the secretary; 

(x) alter the compensation of elected officials of the city to reflect the fiscal emergency and changes in the responsibilities of the officials as provided in this act; 

(xi) employ, retain and supervise such managerial, professional and clerical staff as are necessary to carry out its responsibilities; provided, however, that such employment, retention and supervisory decisions shall be subject to the approval of the secretary; provided further, that the board, with the approval of the secretary, may set the compensation, terms and conditions of employment of its own staff; provided further, that the city shall annually appropriate amounts sufficient for the compensation of personnel hired under this clause as determined and fixed by the board; provided further, that if the city fails to appropriate such amounts, the secretary shall direct the state treasurer to deduct the necessary funds from the city’s distribution of unrestricted general aid and shall expend those funds directly for the benefit of the board; provided further, that staff hired under this subsection shall be deemed to be state employees, except such employees as the board formally designates as independent contractors, and shall have benefits consistent with those of other state employees under the General Laws; and provided further, that chapters 31 and 150E of the General Laws shall not apply to such employees;

(xii) reorganize, consolidate or abolish departments, commissions, boards, offices or functions of the city, in whole or in part, establish such new departments, commissions, boards, offices or functions as it deems necessary and transfer the duties, powers, functions and appropriations of a department, commission, board, office or other unit to another department, commission, board or office; 

(xiii) appoint, in consultation with the secretary, persons to fill vacancies on any board, committee, department or office acting in an advisory capacity to the finance control board; 

(xiv) sell, lease or otherwise transfer real property and other assets of the city with the approval of the secretary; 

(xv) purchase, lease or otherwise acquire property or other assets on behalf of the city with the approval of the secretary; 

(xvi) adopt rules and regulations governing the operation and administration of the city; 

(xvii) seek voter approval of general override, debt exclusion or capital expenditure exclusion ballot questions as provided in section 21C of chapter 59 of the General Laws; 

(xviii) approve the allocation of the tax levy through the selection of a residential factor under section 56 of chapter 40 of the General Laws; provided, however, that no choice of a residential factor under said section 56 of said chapter 40 shall be valid until it has been approved by the board;

(xix) alter or rescind any action or decision of a municipal officer, employee, board or commission within 14 days after receipt of notice of such action or decision; 

(xx) suspend, in consultation with the secretary, any rules and regulations of the city and adopt such other rules and regulations as necessary to carry out this act; and 

(xxi) exercise all powers under the General Laws, under this act or any other special act or under any city charter provision or ordinance that an elected official of the city may exercise, acting individually or jointly; provided, however, that with respect to any such exercise of powers by the board, the elected officials shall not rescind or take any action contrary to such action by the board so long as the board shall continue to exist.

(e) Notwithstanding any general or special law to the contrary, if the city reaches an impasse in its collective bargaining negotiations with any bargaining unit that represents any city employees, the exclusive remedy for resolving such impasse shall be as set forth in section 9 of chapter 150E of the General Laws. Arbitration under said section 9 of said chapter 150E shall occur only if the finance control board consents after its evaluation of all pertinent financial information that is reasonably available. If the finance control board does not consent, the board shall state its reasons for such failure to consent in a written report to the mayor and city council.

(f) Any actions taken pursuant to this section shall be reported to the mayor and city council. 

SECTION 11. This act shall take effect upon its passage.

 

Approved, October 31, 2018.