The Vermont Statutes Online
§ 3341. General provisions—Policy and definitions
(a) It is hereby declared to be the policy of the State to authorize two or more towns or other municipal corporations to join together to establish a consolidated water district for the purpose of developing or acquiring a supply of water and a water distribution system for the purpose of supplying the inhabitants of the district or the member systems within the district with pure water for domestic, sanitary, agricultural, commercial, and industrial purposes, and for supplying the member towns with water for all lawful municipal purposes, including development, construction, and operation of water sources to supply existing municipal water systems.
(b) As used in this chapter, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings, unless the context shall indicate another or different meaning or intent:
(1) “Town” means any municipality within the meaning of 1 V.S.A. § 126.
(2) “Water system” means and includes all plants, systems, facilities or properties used or useful or having the present capacity for future use in connection with the supply or distribution of water, and any integral part thereof, including water supply systems, water distribution systems, reservoirs, wells, intakes, mains, laterals, aqueducts, pumping stations, standpipes, filtration plants, purification plants, hydrants, meters, valves, and all necessary appurtenances and equipment and all properties, rights, easements, and franchises relating thereto and deemed necessary or convenient by the water commission for the operation thereof.
(3) “Improvements” means such repairs, replacements, additions, extensions, and betterments of and to a water system as are deemed necessary by the water commissioners to place or to maintain such system in proper condition for its safe, efficient, and economic operation or to meet requirements for service in areas that may be served by the district and for which no existing service is being rendered.
(4) “Cost” as applied to a water system shall include the purchase price of any such system, the cost of construction, the cost of all labor, materials, machinery, and equipment, the cost of improvements, the cost of all lands, property, rights, easements, and franchises acquired, financing charges, interest prior to and during construction and, if deemed advisable by the water commissioners for one year after completion of construction, cost of plans and specifications, surveys, and estimates of cost and of revenues, cost of engineering and legal services, and all other expenses necessary or incident to determining the feasibility or practicability of such construction.
(5) “Wholesale consolidated water district” means a water district established for the purpose of developing sources of water, together with a system of delivering or treating it, or both, to existing municipal or private water companies. (1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 1, eff. March 10, 1964; amended 1966, No. 10 (Sp. Sess.), eff. Feb. 22, 1966; 1967, No. 209, § 1, eff. April 17, 1967.)
§ 3342. Organization and operation—establishment of consolidated water district
(a) When a majority of the voters of each town of a proposed consolidated water district present and voting in each case by Australian ballot at a town meeting duly warned for that purpose for the same day and during the same hours that shall be at least eight consecutive hours shall vote to join with one or more neighboring towns as specified in the warning for the purpose of forming a consolidated water district, such vote shall be certified by the clerk of each town to the Secretary of State; and when all towns proposed as members of the consolidated water district as specified in such vote have so affirmatively voted and the results have been certified to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State shall file the same in his or her office and shall send a written notice to the clerk of each town to be included in the consolidated water district that the requirements of this section have been met by each town in the district. Upon the filing of such records in the Office of the Secretary of State, the consolidated water district shall become a body politic and corporate with the powers incident to a public corporation and such records shall be notice to all parties of the establishment of the consolidated water district with all the powers incident to such a district as provided under this section; and the filing shall be prima facie evidence that the requirements for the creation of a consolidated water district as set forth in this section have been fully complied with. A consolidated water district may sue and be sued and may hold and convey real estate and personal estate for the use of the district and shall have and may exercise the powers and be subject to the duties and obligations of a municipal corporation provided for in chapter 89 of this title so far as the same may be applicable and except as otherwise provided in this chapter.
(b) A consolidated water district may enter into agreements with the State or federal governments or any agency of either or any corporation, commission, or board authorized by the State or federal government to grant or loan money to or otherwise assist in the financing of projects such as a consolidated water district is authorized to carry out, and to accept grants and borrow money from any such agency, corporation, commission, or board, as may be necessary or desirable to carry out the purposes of this chapter.
(c) The district shall have the right of eminent domain as set forth in sections 3301, 3302, 3303, and 3304 of this title within the district.
(d) If a town in its entirety votes to enter a consolidated water district and is accepted by the district, no village or municipal subdivision thereof may be a member concurrently. If a town either takes no vote, is not accepted, or declines to be a member of the district, any municipal subdivision thereof, including a village or fire district, may be considered under the language of this statute as a “town” and may become a member. If a subdivision is a member of a consolidated water district and the entire town later votes to join the district, the town shall replace its municipal subdivisions in the district. (Added 1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 2, eff. March 10, 1964; amended 1967, No. 209, § 2, eff. April 17, 1967; 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 261.)
§ 3343. Organizational meeting
(a) Within 60 days after the Secretary of State notifies the clerks of the member towns that the requirements of section 3342 of this title have been met, the voters in the consolidated water district shall meet and organize the district. The meeting shall be warned by the chair of the legislative body of each town of the district or by a member designated by his or her respective board to act in the chair’s stead. The warning shall state the day, hour, and place within the district where the meeting will be held and shall be posted in not less than six public places in the district, including at least two public places within each member town, and shall be published three times in a newspaper circulating in the district, the last publication to be at least six days previous to the day of the meeting. The meeting shall be called to order by the clerk of the town in which the meeting is held, at which time a temporary presiding officer and clerk shall be elected from among the qualified voters. At such organizational meeting or an adjournment of the meeting, the district shall elect a moderator and a permanent clerk; shall determine the number of water commissioners constituting the board of water commissioners; and shall elect a board of water commissioners, who shall be the legislative branch, a treasurer, and three auditors. All officers elected at the organizational meeting shall hold office until others are elected and qualified following the first annual meeting. The selectboard of each town may appoint an alternative water commissioner for each commissioner elected from that town, whose duty shall be to serve in place of the elected commissioner if the latter is unable to serve, resigns, or is unable to proceed in office. The total number of water commissioners and the member from each member town may be agreed upon by the several member towns in advance of the organizational meeting. In the absence of such agreement, the number shall be set by the organizational meeting at not less than three nor more than 11 commissioners, including at least one from each member town. Changes in the total number of commissioners may be made at any annual meeting of the district duly warned for that purpose by vote of two-thirds of those present and voting; except that it shall always include at least one from each member town. Water commissioners elected at the organizational meeting shall be elected from nominations made by the several towns at their most recent annual or special meeting, if such nominations have been made. Water commissioners to serve on the board of water commissioners of the consolidated district following the first annual meeting shall be elected by the member towns at their own annual or special meetings. Such elections shall be by Australian ballot in those member towns that elect their respective legislative branches by Australian ballot. All other consolidated water district officers shall be elected by the consolidated district. When there is only one nominee for any of the offices, the voters may, by acclamation, instruct an officer to elect that nominee by casting one ballot, and upon the ballot being cast the nominee shall be declared to be legally elected.
(b) At such organizational meeting or at an adjournment of the meeting, the district may further authorize its board of water commissioners to pay any expense incurred by or on behalf of the district in the period between the date on which the member towns voted to join the district and the first annual meeting of the district. The word “expense” as used in this chapter shall include the cost of architects, surveyors, engineers, contractors, lawyers, or other consultants or experts as well as current operating expenses to be incurred by the district from its organizational meeting until its first annual meeting. The district may authorize its board of water commissioners to borrow money pending receipt of payments from the member towns as provided in this chapter by the issuance of its notes or orders payable not later than one year from the date. At the organizational meeting, the district shall further select a name for the district, determine compensation, if any, to be paid to its officers, determine the date on which its annual meeting shall be held, (which shall not be earlier than October 1 or later than December 31), and adopt a seal. A certified copy of the vote designating the name of the consolidated water district shall be forthwith filed by the clerk of the district with the Secretary of State.
(c) All district officers elected at an annual meeting and water commissioners elected by their constituent towns shall enter upon their duties on April 1 following their election, unless a different date is set at an annual meeting. A vacancy occurring in any district office other than commissioner caused by death, resignation, removal from the district, or incapacity of an officer to carry his or her duties, shall be temporarily filled by the board of water commissioners with a person from the municipality from which the vacancy occurs within 10 days after the vacancy occurs and until the date when the newly elected officers take office. The vacancy shall be filled at the next annual meeting of the district. The term of office of the water commissioners and the auditors shall be three years and all other officers one year. At the first annual meeting, the terms of office of the commissioners shall be divided by agreement. If possible by lot, if not, with one-third expiring after one year, and one-third expiring after two years, or as nearly as may be. At said first annual meeting, one auditor shall be elected for one year, and one auditor for two years, and thereafter for three years or until their successors are chosen and qualified.
(d) The fiscal year of a consolidated water district shall be the calendar year. If the change in the date of an annual meeting is to be made, a notice of the proposed change shall be inserted in the warning of the annual meeting. (Added 1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 10, 1964; amended 1967, No. 209, § 3, eff. April 17, 1967; 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 262.)
§ 3344. Warnings of meetings
(a) Meetings shall be warned by the clerk, or in case of his or her inability to act, by a majority of the water commissioners, by posting a notice thereof, specifying the time, place, and business of the meeting, in not less than five public places in the district, including at least one public place in each member town, at least 10 days before the time therein specified and causing the same to be published in a paper circulating in the district, such publication to be not less than 10 days before the date of the meeting, and the warning shall be recorded in the office of the clerk before being posted.
(b) Any meeting called for the purpose of considering a bond issue shall be warned as is provided for in chapter 53, subchapter 1 of this title.
(c) The water commissioners shall have the same authority and obligation to warn or call meetings of the district as selectmen have to warn or call town meetings. (Added 1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 4, eff. March 10, 1964.)
§ 3345. Eligibility of voters
Persons residing within the limits of the district, who are qualified voters in their town meetings, shall be voters in the district meeting. The moderator, clerk, and members of the board of water commissioners shall decide all questions as to the eligibility of a person to vote at a district meeting. (1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 5, eff. March 10, 1964.)
§ 3346. Check list
The clerk of each town within a consolidated water district shall furnish to the clerk of the district, at the expense of the district, authenticated copies of the check lists of legal voters within said town as the same appears after revision of such check list before the last town meeting, annual or special, preceding the date of the district meeting, which check list shall control for the purposes of determining the voters eligible to vote at the district meeting. Whenever a matter, including bond issues under chapter 53, subchapter 1 of this title, is to be determined by ballot or voting machine, the board of water commissioners may designate polling places not to exceed one in each member town. (1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 6, eff. March 10, 1964.)
§ 3347. Record of proceedings
The clerk shall keep a record of the votes and the proceedings of the district meetings and give certified copies thereof when required. A clerk who neglects to perform this duty shall forfeit $20.00 to the district, to be recovered in a civil action on this statute. (1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 7, eff. March 10, 1964.)
§ 3348. Finances; water rates; application of revenue
(a)(1) Notwithstanding the provisions of section 3311 of this title, the board of water commissioners of a consolidated water district shall establish rates for the water and services by meter service and all individuals, firms, and corporations, whether private, public, or municipal, shall pay to the treasurer of that district the rates and stand-by charges established by the board of water commissioners.
(2) In those districts in which water is supplied by the consolidated water district to the consumer, rates shall be uniform within the district. A wholesale consolidated water district shall set a rate that is uniform to all member towns, and it may further establish a separate schedule for nonmember users. The board of water commissioners may also enter into a contract with member and nonmember municipalities for the supply of water over a period of years.
(3) All rates shall be established so as to provide revenue for the following purposes:
(A) to pay current expenses for operating and maintaining the water systems;
(B) to provide for the payment of interest on the indebtedness created by the district;
(C) to provide each year a sum equal to not less than two percent or more than five percent of the entire indebtedness created or assumed by the district to pay for the cost of the water system and improvements to the water system, which sum shall be used to pay indebtedness maturing in that year or turned into a sinking fund and there kept to provide for the extinguishment of indebtedness of the district;
(D) to capitalize a sinking fund, the proceeds of which shall be used to match federal funds;
(4) If any surplus remains at the end of the year, it may be turned into the sinking fund or used to pay the cost of improvements to the water system.
(b) The money set aside for the sinking fund and any increment thereon shall be devoted to the retirement of obligations of the district or for the purpose of matching federal funds, or invested in such securities as savings banks or fiduciaries or trustees are now or hereafter allowed to hold. The balance of the revenue, if any, required to meet said expenses shall be apportioned among and collected from member towns as provided under this chapter.
(c) In the event that a member town in the district elects to establish a system by vote at an annual or special town meeting for fire protection, a consolidated water district may, at the expense of that town, purchase and install hydrants in the town and shall establish an annual fire protection stand-by charge for each hydrant, which charge shall be uniform throughout the district, and which shall be paid to the treasurer of the district by the member town in which the system is located. Any municipality purchasing water from a consolidated water district may, in turn, sell the water to any adjoining municipality and may set a charge for the water that takes into account, in addition to the rate paid to the consolidated water district, a sum to cover the expense of transporting the water to the purchasing municipality. (Added 1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 8, eff. March 10, 1964; amended 1967, No. 209, § 4, eff. April 17, 1967; 1997, No. 62, § 63, eff. June 26, 1997; 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 263.)
§ 3349. Annual budget; apportionment; assessment; taxes
(a) The board of water commissioners of the district shall at each annual meeting present to the district its budget for the ensuing year, which shall include an estimate of the revenue from water rates and other sources, except taxes and the expenses for the ensuing year, and the district shall appropriate such sum as it deems necessary for all of the expenses that are not disapproved (which disapproval shall not include interest on or principal of any indebtedness created or assumed by the district), together with the amount required to pay any balance left unpaid from the preceding year as will not be met from such estimated revenues, expressing the sum in dollars in its vote. At its first annual meeting, the district shall likewise vote a sum sufficient to pay any unpaid balance of expense, as defined in section 3343 of this title, that has been incurred by or on behalf of the district. Immediately following the annual meeting, the board of water commissioners shall compute the share of each member town in the sums so voted and give notice of the amount to the legislative branch, as defined in section 1751 of this title, of each member town.
(b) The expense of establishing, acquiring, maintaining, extending, improving, and operating a water system for a consolidated water district shall, to the extent that the expense will not be met from the proceeds of indebtedness or from water rates, rents, and other charges received from the use of the water system, be divided among the member towns in accordance with a formula agreed to by the member towns by vote at an annual or special town meeting or, in the absence of any such agreement, as follows: two-thirds of the expense shall be divided in the proportion that the total number of gallons distributed to the inhabitants of each member town of the district bears to the total number of gallons so distributed in all the member towns in the last preceding full calendar year of operation of the district, and the balance of the expense (or all of the expense until the water system has been in operation for at least one full calendar year) shall be divided among the member towns in the proportion that the population of each member town according to the last rental census bears to the total population of the district.
(c) The legislative branch of each member town shall, upon receipt of the notice of the share in the district expenses to be paid by the member town, assess upon the grand list of the member town, in addition to any tax previously voted on the grand list, a tax sufficient to raise the member town’s share in the district expenses. The additional tax as so assessed shall be collected as are other taxes of the member town and be deposited in the member town’s account. The legislative branch of the member town shall order the additional tax to be paid over to the treasurer of the district as collected by the 20th of the month after the member town’s taxes become payable. If by the end of its fiscal year a member town has failed to collect and pay over to the treasurer of the district a sum sufficient to pay the member’s share of the expenses of the district, the legislative branch of the member town shall assess a special tax of five percent on the grand list of the member town, or such multiple thereof as is necessary to make up the unpaid balance of the member town’s share, which special tax shall be collected as are other taxes of the member town. Upon the collection of the special tax, the same shall be paid over to the treasurer of the district. If by the end of its fiscal year a member town fails to pay its share of the expenses of the district, or fails to make up a deficit therein from the preceding year as provided in this subsection, the board of water commissioners of the district may bring a civil action on this statute in the name of the district to recover of the member town twice the amount of the share of the member town as remains unpaid, and upon judgment may levy its execution against any of the real or personal property within the member town. (Added 1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 9, eff. March 10, 1964; amended 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 264.)
§ 3350. Special tax assessment for payment of execution
When a demand is made upon the district for the payment of an execution issued against it and the district has no available funds to pay the same, the board of water commissioners shall compute the share of each member town in such execution, with costs, interest, and other charges, to be paid by it in accordance with the agreement among the member towns or the formula established in section 3349 of this title, and shall give notice of the amount thereof to the legislative branch of each member town. Such member town through its proper officer shall forthwith pay to the treasurer of the district its share of such execution and any charges. If the member town has insufficient funds to pay its said share, its legislative branch shall forthwith assess and have collected a tax sufficient to pay the same in the manner its other taxes are assessed and collected. (1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 10, eff. March 10, 1964.)
§ 3351. Debts and liabilities of member towns
No debt or liabilities of a town that is a member of the district shall accrue against the district. (1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 11, eff. March 10, 1964.)
§ 3352. Tax exemption
Property of a consolidated water district shall be exempt from all taxation by any town within the district. (1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 12, eff. March 10, 1964; amended 1967, No. 209, § 5, eff. April 17, 1967.)
§ 3353. Indebtedness
(a) General obligations. A consolidated water district may incur indebtedness as provided by chapter 53, subchapter 1 of this title and by chapter 89 of this title for the purpose of paying the cost of a water system and improvements to the water system or for funding or refunding, including the payment of premium, any bonds or other evidences of indebtedness issued or assumed by the district, provided, however, that the limits on indebtedness in chapter 53 of this title or otherwise shall not apply to indebtedness incurred or assumed by a consolidated district for the purposes of this chapter.
(b) Joint and severable obligations. Obligations incurred under chapter 53, subchapter 1 and chapter 89 of this title or as otherwise authorized in this chapter by a consolidated water district, except obligations incurred under chapter 53, subchapter 2, shall be the joint and several obligations of the district and the member towns composing it. However, as among the member towns, their respective shares of the obligation shall be apportioned and paid in the manner provided in this chapter. Any joint or several liability incurred by a member town under the provisions of this chapter shall not be considered in determining its debt limit for its own separate purposes. Notwithstanding the limitations in sections 1755 and 1759 of this title, bonds or other evidences of indebtedness of a consolidated water district may be authorized by a majority of the voters present and voting on the question at a district meeting, may be paid in not more than 40 years from their date of issue, may be made callable at the option of the district with or without premium, and the serial maturities of the bonds or evidences of indebtedness may be so arranged that beginning with the first year in which principal is payable, the amount of principal and interest payable in any year shall be as nearly equal as is practicable according to the denominations in which the bonds or other evidences of indebtedness are issued.
(c) Obligations payable solely from revenue. In addition to the authority granted in this section, a consolidated water district may issue bonds or other evidences of indebtedness pursuant to chapter 53, subchapter 2 of this title; provided, however, that no such bonds payable solely from revenues shall be issued while the district has outstanding any bonds or other evidences of indebtedness for which the district and the member towns are jointly and severally liable as provided under this chapter, except notes or other evidences of indebtedness issued temporarily in anticipation of revenue. (Added 1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 13, eff. March 10, 1964; amended 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 265.)
§ 3354. Changes in membership; inclusion of additional towns
(a) When a majority of voters of a town, present and voting at a meeting duly warned for that purpose, vote to apply to a consolidated water district for admission as a member of that district, the vote shall be certified by the clerk of the town to the clerk of the consolidated water district and to the Secretary of State. The vote and certification, if accepted by the consolidated district within two years after the date of the vote, shall be binding on the town without the subsequent vote in the town contemplated in subsections (b) and (c) of this section.
(b) When it appears to the board of water commissioners that the boundaries of a consolidated water district should be changed to include another town, they may insert an article fully describing the proposed change in the warning for a regular or special meeting of the district, which proposed change shall state the number of additional members to be added to the board of water commissioners if the change is approved.
(c) When a majority of the voters voting at such a meeting vote to include an additional town within the boundaries of the consolidated water district as a member of the district, the board of water commissioners shall notify the legislative body of the additional town of the vote. Upon notification, the legislative body of the additional town proposed to be included shall duly warn a meeting of the town, setting forth in the warning the vote of the consolidated water district and the proposed change in its boundaries. If a majority of the voters voting at the meeting of the additional town vote to be included within the district, the result of that vote and the result of the vote already taken by the consolidated water district shall be certified to the Secretary of State, who shall record the same in his or her office. A certificate of the record shall immediately be filed by the Secretary of State in the office of the clerk of the consolidated water district and of any additional town to be included as a member of the district, which filing shall be notice to all parties of the addition to the consolidated district.
(d) A consolidated water district so enlarged shall have all the powers and responsibilities given it by this chapter. Any vacancy on the board of water commissioners created as a result of the increase in the number of member towns shall be filled as provided in section 3343 of this title. The additional member town shall share in the expenses of the district in the proportion provided in this chapter for other member towns from the date the certificate of the Secretary of State is filed in the office of the clerk of the district and the office of the clerk of the additional town. (Added 1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 14, eff. March 10, 1964; amended 1967, No. 209, § 6, eff. April 17, 1967; 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 266.)
§ 3355. Withdrawal from district
(a) A town which is a member of a consolidated water district may vote to withdraw from said district if one year has elapsed since said district has become a body politic and corporate as provided in section 3342 of this title and if said consolidated water district has not voted to bond itself for construction or improvements.
(b) When a majority of the voters of a town present and voting at a town meeting duly warned for that purpose shall vote to withdraw from a consolidated water district such vote shall thereupon be certified by the clerk of the town to the Secretary of State who shall thereupon record such certificate in his or her office, and the membership of the withdrawing town in the consolidated water district to be at an end as of December 31 immediately following or as soon thereafter as the obligations of said withdrawing district as incurred under this chapter have been paid to the district.
(c) A vote of withdrawal taken after a consolidated water district has become a body politic and corporate as provided in section 3342 of this title but less than one year after said date shall be null and void. A vote of withdrawal from a consolidated water district taken after said district has voted to bond itself for construction or improvements shall be null and void. (1964, No. 20 (Sp. Sess.), § 15, eff. March 10, 1964.)