It is enacted by the General Assembly as follows:
SECTION 1. Section 5 of Chapter 42 of the Public Laws of 1987 entitled "An Act to Incorporate the Ashaway Fire District" is hereby amended to read as follows:
Section 5. Powers of the Eligible Voters. -- (A) At any annual meeting or special meeting of the Ashaway Fire District, or any adjournment thereof, the eligible voters shall have the following powers:
(1) They shall fill vacancies of expired or unexpired terms of duly elected officers, who shall consist of a board of three (3) fire commissioners, clerk, tax collector and a treasurer.
(2) They shall order such taxes and provide for the assessment and collection of same, on all real property located within the boundaries of the Ashaway Fire District as they shall deem necessary for the:
(a) Proper creation, maintenance and support of a fire department and emergency rescue service in said Ashaway Fire District, including the purchasing of real estate to house all necessary equipment, fire-fighting apparatus, and rescue and ambulance equipment.
(b) Purchase of all necessary fire apparatus and fire-fighting equipment and rescue and ambulance equipment and generally for all things necessary and proper for maintenance, within the Ashaway Fire District, of a suitable and proper fire department and rescue and ambulance corps and supplying it with proper equipment to carry into effect and attain the objectives of which this act is declaratory.
(c) Improvement in any manner they may deem necessary of any property belonging to the Ashaway Fire District.
(d) Creation of a reserve fund for the future maintenance and replacement of property and apparatus.
(e) Payment of any charges and expenses arising within the Ashaway Fire District, incidental or not to the above.
(3) They shall establish such penalties as they shall deem necessary on all taxes not paid, as provided in the assessment aforesaid.
(4) They shall exempt from taxation such property within the boundaries of the Ashaway Fire District as shall be approved by a vote of seventy-five percent (75%) of the eligible voters present at any meeting of the Ashaway Fire District; provided, however, that no exemption shall be granted unless the request for said exemption shall be specifically set forth in the call of the meeting at which it is to be considered. Such exemption, when granted, shall continue indefinitely, unless a specific term shall be specified.
(5) They shall provide for the auditing of the financial records of the Ashaway Fire District.
SECTION 2. The question of the approval of this act shall be submitted to the people of the town of Hopkinton who are qualified to vote as provided in section 2 of said act, to be held in the Fall of 1997, to approve the proposed amendment to the Ashaway Fire District Charter. At the annual financial meeting, the Board of Fire Commissioners shall set a date of said referendum and shall cause a copy of an explanation of the act, changes and a warning of the date of the referendum, to be mailed, to all eligible voters. The Board of Fire Commissioners shall also conduct two (2) public hearings to accept public comment and answer questions about the referendum questions.
SECTION 3. This section and section 2 of this act shall take effect upon passage. The remainder of this act shall take effect upon approval of this act by a majority of those voting at the election prescribed by the foregoing section.