A N A C T
AUTHORIZING THE TOWN OF NEW SHOREHAM TO PLAN, CONSTRUCT, OPERATE AND MAINTAIN A WATER SUPPLY SYSTEM AND AUTHORIZE THE FINANCING THERETO
It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. The town of New Shoreham is hereby authorized to plan, construct, operate, maintain, extend and improve a water supply system for the town or any part or parts thereof. Such system may include facilities for the treating and supplying of potable water. The town of New Shoreham, acting by its town council, may enter into agreements for periods with the state, or any other municipal or quasi-municipal corporation, or any private party for the treatment of water by one party or the other and the state; such other municipal or quasi-municipal corporations and private parties are authorized to enter into such agreements with the town. Such agreements may be for a period of years or of permanent duration and may provide for the arbitration of disputes arising thereunder.
SECTION 2. There is hereby established a board of water commissioners for the town of New Shoreham which shall consist of not less than five (5) qualified electors of the town. Except as otherwise provided herein, the board of water commissioners shall have the power and authority to supervise the planning, construction, operation, maintenance, extension and improvement of the water supply system and to make contracts therefor on behalf of the town. The town council shall appoint five (5) water commissioners, one (1) to serve until May 1, 2001, one (1) to serve until May 1, 2002, one (1) to serve until May 1, 2003, one (1) to serve until May 1, 2004, and one (1) to serve until May 1, 2005, and thereafter until their successors are appointed and take office. Not more than sixty (60) days prior to the expiration of each term, the town council shall appoint a successor for a term of five (5) years from such expiration and thereafter until his or her successor is appointed and takes office. The town council of the town of New Shoreham shall have the right to name one (1) or two (2) additional auxiliary or sixth or seventh members of the water commission to sit as active members, when and if regular members of the board are unable to serve at any meeting or hearing, upon the request of the chairman of the board.
The board of water commissioners may act despite a vacancy on the board, however, in the event of any vacancy, the town council shall appoint a commissioner to serve for the unexpired term and thereafter until his or her successor is appointed and takes office.
Any member of the board may be removed for cause by the town council. Each appointment or removal by the town council shall be by vote of a majority of the whole number thereof, including vacancies therein.
The town council may require the members of the board of water commissioners to furnish bond for the faithful performance of their duties, in such amounts and with such sureties as the town council may deem desirable. Premiums on surety bonds shall be paid from funds of the board of water commissioners.
SECTION 3. After the appointment of the original board of water commissioners, and after the appointment and taking office of a member upon the expiration of a term, the board shall appoint a chairman from among the members of the board and shall appoint a secretary, who need not be a member of the board, or designate the town clerk as secretary. The chairman shall preside at meetings of the board and the secretary shall keep the records of the meetings of the board. The board may designate other officers and assistant officers with such powers and for such terms as the board may determine, but the board may at any time remove any such other officers and assistant officers with or without cause, subject to any damages which may be payable for cancellation of a contract with the superintendent as authorized in this act.
The board may adopt by-laws or rules for the transaction of its affairs.
SECTION 4. The board of water commissioners may employ and fix the compensation of attorneys, engineers, surveyors, draftsmen, clerks and other employees and agents. The board may appoint a superintendent of the water supply system and contract for his or her services, but no such contract shall be for a term of more than three (3) years. The board may require a surety bond of any of its agents and employees. The premiums shall be paid from funds of the board.
Each of the commissioners may be compensated for his or her services at a rate to be determined by the town council. The secretary, if not a member of the board or the town clerk acting by designation, may be compensated at a rate determined by the board.
SECTION 5. Any contract of the board involving more than ten thousand dollars ($10,000) for construction of five thousand dollars ($5,000) for the purchase of materials or equipment shall be publicly advertised pursuant to section 45-55-9.
All funds of the board shall be held in the custody of the town finance director and shall be expended by or under the direction of the board.
The board shall be authorized to expend, for the purposes of this act, such sums as may be appropriated by the town.
In carrying out the purposes of this act, the board of water commissioners may lease property or acquire the same by purchase or gift or by eminent domain as hereinafter provided, may make contracts, and shall have such further powers as shall be necessary or incidental to the purposes and powers set forth in this act. Any lease, purchase, or taking of real property shall be subject to the prior authorization or approval of the town council.
SECTION 6. The initial cost of any project or projects for the construction, completion, extension, enlargement or improvement of the water supply system may be shared between the abutting property owners and all the taxpayers of the town of New Shoreham in the following manner. The board of water commissioners shall, to the extent described herein, assess the cost of any project or projects for the construction, completion, extension, enlargement or improvement of the water supply system upon the owners of the estates which abut that portion of any street, highway or right-of-way in or along which any water project or projects may be located or which otherwise specifically benefit from such project or projects. Such assessment may be made separately for each project or for several projects taken together as the board of water commissioners may deem equitable. The cost to be assessed shall be that which is determined by the board of water commissioners to provide particular rather than general benefit.
Such assessments shall be just and equitable and may be based upon frontage or area within a specified reasonable distance from the street or highway, or on assessed valuations, or on any other factor affording a reasonable measure of benefits, or upon any combinations of the foregoing. However, absent cause shown by the board of water commissioners, the same method shall be used as to all properties. The board of water commissioners shall not make any particular assessment in excess of the benefit conferred and may make reasonable adjustments of such assessments against estates having frontage upon more than one street or against estates which for any reason are unable to derive the normal benefits from the system.
Such assessments shall name the owners assessed, describe their estates, and state the amounts of the assessments, but no error or omission in the name or description shall invalidate the assessment as long as either the owner or the estate is substantially identified.
A copy of such assessment shall be recorded with the collector of taxes as public record. From the date of delivery to the collector of taxes, the assessments and interest and other charges accruing thereon shall constitute a lien upon the respective estate on a parity with the lien for the town taxes until paid in full, but such lien shall not be subject to termination under RIGL section 44-9-1. The collector of taxes of the town shall have the same rights to enforce such liens against the estates and to collect such assessments and interest from the owners, whether residents of this state or not, as he or she has in the case of town taxes assessed against residents of this state.
Prior to or forthwith after the delivery to the collector of taxes of a copy of such assessment, he or she shall cause notice to be sent to the owners of each estate assessed. The notice shall substantially identify the estate assessed, state the amount of the assessment, and refer to the remedy available under this section. The notice shall be mailed postpaid and directed to the last known address of the addressee. If there are owners whose addresses are unknown, a similar notice covering the assessments against their estates shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the town and such published notice may be a single collective notice for all such owners. No irregularity in carrying out the provisions of this section shall excuse the nonpayment of the assessment or affect the validity or any proceedings for the collection thereof as long as there is substantial compliance with the provisions hereof. No deficiency in the notice to the owner of an estate assessed shall excuse the nonpayment by others of the assessments against their estates or affect the validity thereof or any proceedings for the collection thereof.
Any person aggrieved by any such assessments may within ninety (90) days after the mailing or publication of notice to him or her, file a petition for relief against the town as respondent in the superior court, and the clerk shall thereupon issue a citation to summon the town to the provisions of RIGL section 44-5-29. If the court finds such assessment invalid in whole or in part, it shall give judgment reducing the amount thereof or for a refund accordingly. The filing of such a petition shall not relieve the estate involved from the lien hereinabove provided, or prevent the assessment from becoming due as provided in this section, but the final judgment of the court reducing such assessment in whole or in part shall reduce such lien and the amount due accordingly. The remedy provided in this section shall be exclusive and no action or proceeding questioning the validity of any such assessment shall be begun after the expiration of said ninety (90) day period.
In the event an assessment is partially or wholly invalid, the board of water commissioners may make a corrected assessment to replace the invalid assessment or portion. The corrected assessment shall be made in the same manner as an original assessment. The first installment of a corrected assessment shall be sufficient to compensate without interest for all installments which would have become due then or theretofore, and subsequent installments shall be payable when they would have been payable, if the corrected assessment had been made at the time of the original assessment. The corrected assessment shall bear interest from the date notice of the corrected assessment was delivered to the collector of taxes.
Except as provided in section 6, each assessment under this act shall be payable in not more than twenty (20) equal annual installments. The board of water commissioners by resolution may, from time to time, determine the number of annual installments in which assessments thereafter made under this act shall be paid, but in the absence of any such resolution the number of such installments shall be ten (10). The unpaid balance of each assessment shall bear interest from the date a copy of the assessment is delivered to the collectors of taxes. The rate of interest shall be determined by the board of water commissioners prior to or forthwith after the delivery of the copy of the assessment to the collector of taxes. If any part of the project or projects with respect to which the assessment was made was permanently financed by borrowing, such rate shall, to the nearest higher one tenth of one percent, be equal to the actual rate of interest paid by the town with respect to funds borrowed by it to finance such project or projects. The annual payments of each assessment, with the appropriate amount of interest then payable, shall become due commencing with the date on which the regular town taxes are due and payable which next follows the date on which a copy of the assessment was delivered to the collector of taxes, provided that the whole assessment against any owner or estate may be paid without interest at any time prior to the due date of the first installment thereof, and provided further that the whole unpaid balance of any such assessment together with the interest accrued thereon to the date of payment may be paid at any time.
In the event of the subdivision of any estate subject to any such assessment by the conveyance of any part of parts thereof to a different owner, the board of water commissioners may apportion the assessment of the unpaid part thereof among the new estates so created upon any basis which might then be used under this section for a new assessment and such basis need not be the same as that used for the assessment being apportioned. The apportioned assessments shall be payable at the same times and in the same amounts pro rata as the original assessment or unpaid part thereof. In all other respects, the apportioned assessments shall be governed by the provisions of this section which would then apply to a new assessment. Upon the recording of the apportioned assessments, the original assessment shall be discharged.
In the event that the town has not authorized sufficient borrowing or provided sufficient other funds to undertake a requested water extension, or the board of water commissioners determines that higher priority exists for the use of the proceeds of borrowing or other funds, the board of water commissioners may, in lieu of levying all or part of an assessment under this act, require the person or persons requesting such extension to contribute all or part of the cost thereof before the project is commenced.
SECTION 7. The water district for the town of New Shoreham is hereby created and established, the same to consist of those portions of the town of New Shoreham to be determined as follows:
Upon recommendation from the board of water commissioners, the town council of the town of New Shoreham shall be empowered by ordinance, from time to time, to designate so much of the land lying within the boundaries of the town as it deems advisable for the water district.
The electors of the town of New Shoreham within said water district, qualified to vote upon any proposition to impose a tax or for the expenditure of money in the town, shall annually assemble in a special meeting during the month of June, for the purpose of hearing official reports of the board of water commissioners and to approve a budget for the subsequent fiscal year.
The board of water commissioners shall advertise the time and place for the annual financial meeting, together with times and places where electors of the water district may inspect the proposed budget, by posting a notice for three (3) weeks prior to the annual financial meeting in three (3) public places within the town of New Shoreham.
The proposed budget shall include all costs of maintaining, repairing and operating such water supply systems (including reasonable reserves for such purposes and for renewals and replacements), the principal and interest on all water bonds and notes of the town when due, and any other expenses not otherwise provided for which may arise under this act, to the extent that monies for the foregoing purposes are not otherwise provided.
Upon the adoption of the annual budget, the board of water commissioners shall fix a schedule of water charges for the water facilities and services furnished by the town for the purpose of funding the budget. Such charges shall be just and equitable and may be based upon the quantity of water used, or the number and size of water connections made, or the number and kind of plumbing fixtures installed on the estate, or upon the number or average number of persons residing or working in or otherwise connected therewith, or upon any other factor affecting the use of or the value of the facilities and services furnished, or upon any combination of such factors.
The charges shall be payable upon a date or dates fixed by the board of water commissioners, and if not paid within thirty (30) days thereafter, they shall bear interest at the rate of eighteen percent per annum (18%) from their due date until paid.
The charges shall be assessed upon the owner of the real estate or the tenant or occupant. The collector of taxes shall cause notice of the amount and due date to be given to the owner of the real estate and to the tenant and occupant if the tenant or occupant is the party assessed. Such notice shall substantially identify the estate with respect to which the service charge is made, state the amount of the charge, and refer to the remedy available under this section. The notice shall be mailed postpaid and directed to the last known address of the addressee. If there are owners or parties assessed whose addressees are unknown, a similar notice covering the service charges shall be published in a newspaper of general circulation in the town and such published notice may be a single collective notice for all such owners and tenants. No irregularity in carrying out the provisions of this section shall excuse the nonpayment of the charge or affect its validity or any proceedings for the collection thereof as long as there is substantial compliance with the provisions hereof. No deficiency in the notice to the owner, tenant or occupant shall excuse the nonpayment by others of the charges against their estates or affect the validity thereof or any proceedings for the collection thereof.
A certificate of the collector of taxes of the town stating the amount of any delinquent service charge and its due date, and the name of the owner of the real estate, and the name of the tenant or occupant if assessed to a tenant or occupant who is not the owner, and an identification of the real estate shall be filed with the town clerk as a public record, and notice of the filing shall be mailed or sent or otherwise given to such owner. From the date of the filing until the same is paid in full, the delinquent service charge, together with any interest and charges accruing thereon, shall constitute a lien upon the real estate on a parity with the lien for town taxes, subject to termination under RIGL section 44-9-1.
The collector of taxes shall have the same rights to enforce such liens and to collect the service charges and interest and charges thereon from the parties assessed, whether residents of this state or not, as he or she has in the case of town taxes assessed against residents of this state.
Any person aggrieved by any such charge may, within ninety (90) days of the mailing or publication of notice to him or her file a petition for relief against the town as respondent in the superior court, and the clerk shall thereupon issue a citation to summon the town, pursuant to the provisions of RIGL section 44-5-29. If the court finds such charge invalid in whole or in part, it shall give judgment reducing the amount thereof, or for a refund accordingly. The filing of such petition shall not relieve the estate involved from the lien hereinabove provided, or prevent the charge from becoming due as provided in this section, but the final judgment of the court reducing such charge in whole or in part shall reduce such lien and the amount due accordingly. The remedy provided in this section shall be exclusive, and no action or proceeding questioning the validity of any such charge shall be begun after the expiration of the ninety (90) day period.
In the event a service charge is partially or wholly invalid, the board of water commissioners may make a corrected charge to replace the invalid charge or portion, or take such other curative action as may be appropriate. The corrected charge shall be made in the same manner as an original charge. The corrected charge shall bear interest from the date notice of the corrected charge was delivered to the collector of taxes.
SECTION 8. The board of water commissioners may, from time to time, promulgate rules and regulations for the connection of estates and buildings with water supply and for the inspection of materials, construction, alteration and use of all connections entering into such water supply, and may prescribe penalties not exceeding fifty dollars ($50.00) for violation of each such rule or regulation. Such rules and regulations shall not be effective prior to their publication in a newspaper of general circulation in the town.
SECTION 9. The town of New Shoreham shall have the power and is hereby authorized, from time to time, to issue bonds under its corporate name and seal or a facsimile of such seal. The bonds of each issue shall mature in annual installments or principal, the first installment to be not later than three (3) years and the last installment not later than (30) years after the date of the bonds. No installment of principal of any issue shall exceed any prior installment by more than six percent (6%) of the total principal amount of the issue.
SECTION 10. The bonds shall be signed by the town finance director and by the manual signature of the first warden of the town council, and shall be issued and sold at not less than par, and shall accrue interest in such amounts as the town council may authorize. The manner of sale, denominations, maturities, interest rates and other terms, conditions and details of any bonds or notes issued under this act may be fixed by the proceedings of the town council authorizing the issue, or by separate resolution of the town council, or to the extent provisions for these matters are not so made, fixed by the officers authorized to sign the bonds or notes. Interest coupons (if any) shall bear the facsimile signature of the town finance director. The proceeds derived from the sale of the bonds shall be delivered to the town finance director, and such proceeds, exclusive of premiums and accrued interest shall be expended (a) for the purposes set forth in section one of this act other than current expenses, or (b) in payment of the principle of or interest on temporary notes issued under section 11, or (c) in repayment of advances under section twelve. No purchaser of any bonds or notes under this act shall be in any way responsible for the proper application of the proceeds derived from the sale thereof. The proceeds of bonds or notes issued under this act, any applicable federal or state assistance, and the other monies referred to in section fourteen shall be deemed appropriated for the purposes of this act without further action than that required by this act.
SECTION 11. The town council may, by resolution, authorize the issue, from time to time, of interest bearing or discounted notes in anticipation of the issue of bonds under section 10 in anticipation of the receipt of federal or state aid for the purposes of this act. The amount of original notes issued in anticipation of bonds may not exceed the amount of bonds which may be issued under this act, and the amount of original notes issued in anticipation of federal or state aid may not exceed the amount of available federal or state aid as estimated by the town finance director. Temporary notes issued thereunder shall be signed by the town finance director and by the first warden of the town council and shall be payable within six (6) years from their respective dates, but the principal and interest on notes issued for a shorter period may be renewed or paid from time to time by the issue of other notes hereunder, provided the period from the date of an original note to the maturity of any note issued to renew or pay the same debt or the interest thereon shall not exceed six (6) years.
SECTION 12. Pending any authorization or issue of bonds hereunder, or pending or in lieu of any authorization or issue of notes hereunder, the town finance director, with the approval of the town council, may apply funds in the general treasury of the town to the purposes specified in section 10. Such advances to be repaid without interest from the proceeds of bonds or notes subsequently issued, or from the proceeds of applicable federal or state assistance, or from other available funds.
SECTION 13. Any proceeds of bonds or notes issued hereunder, or of any applicable federal or state assistance, pending their expenditure, may be deposited or invested by the town finance director in demand deposits, time deposits, or saving deposits in banks which are member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, or in obligations issued or guaranteed by the United States of America, or by any agency or instrumentality thereof or as may be provided in any other applicable law of the state.
SECTION 14. Any accrued interest received upon the sale of bonds or notes hereunder shall be applied to the payment of the first interest due thereon. Any premiums arising from the sale of bonds or notes hereunder, any net earnings or profits realized from the deposit or investment of funds hereunder, and any balance of bond or note proceeds remaining after completion of the projects shall, at the discretion of the town finance director, be applied to the cost of preparing, issuing and marketing bonds or notes hereunder to the extent not otherwise provided, to the payment of the cost of the projects or the cost of additional improvements coming within the description of the projects in section 10 to the payment of the principal of or interest on bonds or notes issued hereunder, or to any one or more of the foregoing. The cost of preparing issuing and marketing bonds or notes hereunder may also at the discretion of the town finance director, be met from bond or note proceeds exclusive of premium and accrued interest or from other monies available therefor. In exercising any discretion under this section, the town finance director shall be governed by any instructions adopted by resolution of the town council.
SECTION 15. All bonds and notes issued under this act and the debts evidenced thereby shall be obligatory on the town in the same manner and to the same extent as other debts lawfully contracted by it and shall be excepted from the operation of RIGL section 45-12-2. No such obligation shall at any time be included in the debt of the town for the purpose of ascertaining its borrowing capacity. The town shall annually appropriate a sum sufficient to pay the principal and interest coming due within the year on bonds and notes issued hereunder to the extent that monies therefor are not otherwise provided. If such sum is not appropriated, it shall nevertheless be added to the annual tax levy. In order to provide such sum in each year, and notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, all taxable property in the town shall be subject to ad valorem taxation by the town without limitations as to rate or amount.
SECTION 16. Any bonds or notes issued under the provisions of this act, and coupons on any bonds if properly executed by officers of the town in office on the date of execution, shall be valid and binding according to their terms, notwithstanding that before the delivery thereof and payment therefor any or all of such officers shall for any reason have ceased to hold office.
SECTION 17. The town, acting by resolution of its board of water commissioners, shall have the power and is hereby authorized to apply for, contract for, and expend any federal or state advances or other grants or assistance which may be available for the purposes of this act. Any such expenditures may be in addition to other monies provided in this act. To the extent of any inconsistency between any law of this state, and any applicable federal law or regulation, the latter shall prevail. Federal and state advances, with interest where applicable, whether contracted for prior to or after the effective date of this act, may be repaid as project costs under Section 10.
SECTION 18. Bonds and notes may be issued under this act without obtaining the approval of any governmental agency, or the taking of any proceedings, or the happening of any conditions except as specifically required by this act for such issue. In carrying out any project financed in whole or in part under this act, including where applicable the condemnation of any land or interest in land, and in the levy and collection of assessments or other charges permitted by law on account of any such project, all action shall be taken which is necessary to meet constitutional requirements whether or not such action is required by statute; but the validity of bonds and notes issued hereunder shall in no way depend upon the validity or occurrence of such action.
SECTION 19. For the purpose of this act, the town may acquire land or other real property, or any interest, estate or right therein, by eminent domain in the manner prescribed by chapter 1 of title 24, provided that no property or interest, estate or right therein belonging to the state, or any political subdivision shall be acquired without its consent, and that no property or interest, estate, or right therein, belonging to or used by a public utility, shall be acquired without the consent of the division of public utilities and carriers. Any damages which may be agreed upon or determined pursuant to this chapter, including any interest and other applicable charges, shall constitute a general obligation of the town, but such obligation shall not at any time be included in the debt of the town for the purpose of ascertaining its borrowing capacity. For the purposes of this section, the powers of the town council shall be exercised by the board of water commissioners with the authorization or approval of the town council.
SECTION 20. The question of approval of this act shall be submitted to the qualified electors of the town of New Shoreham at a special local election to be held within ninety (90) days of the date of passage of this act at a date to be set by the New Shoreham town council. The question shall be submitted in substantially the following form: "Shall an act passed at the 2000 session of the general assembly entitled 'An Act Authorizing the Town of New Shoreham to Plan, Construct, Operate, and Maintain a Water Supply System and Authorizing the Financing Thereto' be approved?" and the warning for the election shall contain the question to be submitted. From the time the election is warned and until it is held, it shall be the duty of the town clerk to keep a copy of the act available at their office for public inspection, but any failure of the clerk to perform this duty shall not affect the validity of the election.
SECTION 21. This section and the foregoing section shall take effect upon the passage of this act. The remainder of this act shall take effect upon the approval of this act by a majority of those voting on the question at the election prescribed by the foregoing section.