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§ 3671. Policy
It is the policy of the State to authorize two or more contiguous towns or other municipal corporations to join together to establish a consolidated sewer district for the purpose of developing, acquiring, or improving a sewage system for the purpose of disposing of the sewage from the district. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 1a, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3672. Definitions
(a) As used in this chapter, the following words and terms shall have the following meanings unless the context indicates another or different meaning or intent:
(1) “Town” means any municipality within the meaning of 1 V.S.A. § 126.
(2) “Sewage system” includes such equipment, pipeline systems, and facilities as are needed for and appurtenant to the treatment or disposal of sewage and waters, including sewage treatment plants and separate pipelines and structural or nonstructural facilities as are needed for and appurtenant to the treatment or disposal of storm, surface, and subsurface waters, and all properties, rights, easements, and franchises relating thereto and deemed necessary or convenient by the sewer commission for the operation thereof.
(3) “Sewage” means the used water supply of a community, including such groundwater, surface, and stormwater as may or may not be mixed with liquid wastes from the community.
(4) “Stormwater” means the excess water from rainfall.
(5) “Surface water” means water other than stormwater flowing or standing on or over the surface of the ground.
(6) “Groundwater” means water existing beneath the surface of the ground.
(7) “Improvements” means such repairs, replacements, additions, extensions, and betterments of and to a sewage system as are deemed necessary by the sewer commissioners to place or maintain such system in proper condition for its safe, efficient, and economic operation or to meet requirements for service in such areas which may be served by the district and for which no existing service is being rendered.
(8) “Costs” as applied to a sewage system 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 sewer 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.
(b) A consolidated sewer district shall be deemed to be a municipality within the meaning of 1 V.S.A. § 126. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 1b, eff. March 22, 1968; amended 2001, No. 109 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. May 16, 2002.)
§ 3673. Organization and operation—Establishment of consolidated sewer district
(a) When a majority of the voters of each town of a proposed consolidated sewer 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 sewer district as provided under this chapter, vote shall thereupon be certified by the clerk of each town to the Secretary of State; and when all towns proposed as members of the consolidated sewer district as specified in such vote shall have so affirmatively voted and the results thereon shall have been certified to the Secretary of State, the Secretary of State shall thereupon 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 sewer district that the requirements of this section have been met by each town in the said district. Upon the filing of such records in the Office of the Secretary of State, such consolidated sewer 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 such consolidated sewer district with all the powers incident to such a district as herein provided; and such filing shall be prima facie evidence that the requirements for the creation of a consolidated sewer district as herein set forth have been fully complied with. A consolidated sewer 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 10 V.S.A. chapter 55 and chapters 97 and 101 of this title so far as the same may be applicable and except as otherwise provided in this chapter.
(b) A consolidated sewer district may enter into agreements with the State or federal government 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 that a consolidated sewer 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. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 2, eff. March 22, 1968; amended 1971, No. 97, § 1, eff. April 22, 1971.)
§ 3674. Organizational meeting
(a) Within 60 days after the Secretary of State has notified the clerks of the member towns that the requirements of section 3673 of this title have been met, the voters in such consolidated sewer district shall meet to 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, and 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 thereof and shall be published three times in a newspaper circulating therein, 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, whereupon a temporary presiding officer and clerk shall be elected from among the qualified voters. At the organizational meeting or an adjournment thereof, the district shall elect a moderator and a permanent clerk, shall determine the number of sewer commissioners constituting the board of sewer commissioners and shall elect a board of sewer 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 total number of sewer commissioners and the number from each member town may be agreed upon by the several member towns in advance of the organizational meeting or in the absence of such agreement shall be set by the organizational meeting at not less than three, including at least one from each member town. Sewer commissioners elected at the organizational meeting shall be elected from nominations made by the several member towns at their most recent annual or special meeting, if such nominations have been made. Sewer commissioners to serve on the board of sewer 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 which elect their respective legislative branches by Australian ballot. All other consolidated sewer district officers shall be elected by the consolidated district. When there is only one nominee for any of the aforementioned offices, the voters may, by acclamation, instruct an officer to elect the nominee by casting one ballot, and upon the ballot being cast the nominee shall be declared to be legally elected.
(b) At the organizational meeting or at an adjournment thereof, the district may further authorize its board of sewer 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 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 sewer commissioners to borrow money pending receipt of payments from the member towns as hereinafter provided 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 sewer 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 sewer 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 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 sewer commissioners 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 sewer 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, one-third expiring after one year, and one-third expiring after two years, or as nearly as may be. At the 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 sewer 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. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 3, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3675. Warnings of meeting
(a) Meetings shall be warned by the clerk, or in case of his or her inability to act, by a majority of the sewer 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 by causing the same to be published in a paper circulating in the district, the 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 provided for in chapter 53, subchapter 1 of this title.
(c) The sewer commissioners shall have the same authority and obligation to warn or call meetings of the district as the selectboard members have to warn or call town meetings. (Added 1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 4, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3676. 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 sewer commissioners shall decide all questions as to the eligibility of a person to vote at a district meeting. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 5, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3677. Check list
The clerk of each town within a consolidated sewer 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 the town as the same appears after revision of the 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 regular polling places within the district shall be used. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 6, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3678. 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 his or her duty shall forfeit $20.00 to the district, to be recovered in a civil action on this statute. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 7, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3679. Finances—Sewer rates; application of revenue
(a) The board of sewer commissioners of a consolidated sewer district shall establish rates for the sewer service and all individuals, firms, and corporations whether private, public, or municipal shall pay to the treasurer of the district the rates established by the board. The manner of establishment of the rates shall be in accord with section 3615 of this title. The rates shall be so established as to provide revenue for the following purposes:
(1) to pay current expenses for operating and maintaining the sewer system;
(2) to provide for the payment of interest on the indebtedness created by the district;
(3) to provide each year a sum equal to not less than two percent nor more than five percent of the entire indebtedness created or assumed by the district to pay for the cost of the sewer system and improvements thereto, 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;
(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 sewer 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 invested in such securities as savings banks or fiduciaries or trustees are now or hereafter allowed to hold. The balance of revenue, if any, required to meet expenses shall be apportioned among and collected from member towns as herein provided.
(c) When a rate established under this section for the management of stormwater is applied to property owned, controlled, or managed by the Agency of Transportation, the rate shall not exceed the highest rate category applicable to other properties in the municipality, and the Agency of Transportation shall receive a 35 percent credit on the rate. The Agency of Transportation shall receive no other credit on the rate from the consolidated sewer district. (Added 1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 8, eff. March 22, 1968; amended 2015, No. 158 (Adj. Sess.), § 31, eff. June 2, 2016.)
§ 3680. Annual budget, apportionment, assessment, taxes
(a) The board of sewer 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 sewer 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 the expenses as are not disapproved (which disapproval may 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 the 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 3674 of this title, which has been theretofore incurred by or on behalf of the district. Immediately following the annual meeting, the board of sewer commissioners shall compute the share of each member town in the sums so voted and give notice of the amount thereof to the legislative branch of each member town.
(b) The expense of establishing, acquiring, maintaining, extending, improving, and operating a sewer system for a consolidated sewer district shall, insofar as the expense shall not be met from the proceeds of indebtedness or from sewer rates, rents or other charges received from the use of such sewer 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 such expense shall be divided in the proportion which the total sewage flow to the inhabitants of each member town of the district bears to the total sewage flow in all the member towns in the last preceding full calendar year of operation of the district and the balance of such expense (or all of such expense until the sewage system has been in operation for at least one full calendar year) shall be divided among the member towns in the proportion which 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 each member town, in addition to any tax previously voted thereon, a tax sufficient to raise the member town’s share in the expenses. The additional tax as so assessed shall be collected as are other taxes of the member town and be deposited in the account of the member town. 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 twentieth of the month after the 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 a multiple thereof as is necessary to make up the unpaid balance of the share, which special tax shall be collected as are other taxes of the member town. Upon the collection of the special tax, it 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 under this chapter, the board of sewer commissioners of the district may bring a civil action on this statute in the name of the district to recover from the member town twice the amount of the share of the member town that remains unpaid, and upon judgment may levy its execution against any of the real or personal property within the member town. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 9, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3681. 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 sewer 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 3679 of this title, and shall give notice of the amount thereof to the legislative branch of each member town. The member town through its proper officer shall forthwith pay to the treasurer of the district its share of the execution and any charges. If the member town has insufficient funds to pay its 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. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 10, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3682. 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. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 11, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3683. Tax exemption
Property of a consolidated sewer district shall be exempt from all taxation by any town. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 12, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3684. Indebtedness
(a) General obligations. A consolidated sewer district may incur indebtedness as provided by chapter 53, subchapter 1 of this title and by chapter 101 of this title for the purpose of paying the cost of a sewer system and improvements to the sewer system or for funding or refunding, including the payment of premium, any bonds or other evidences of indebtedness issued or assumed by the district. 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 several obligations. Obligations incurred under chapter 53, subchapter 1 of this title and chapter 101 of this title by a consolidated sewer district 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 this chapter shall not be considered in determining its debt limit for its separate purposes. Notwithstanding the limitations in sections 1755 and 1759 of this title, bonds or other evidences of indebtedness of a consolidated sewer 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 30 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 those 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 authority granted in this section, a consolidated sewer district may issue bonds or other evidences of indebtedness under chapter 53, subchapter 2 of this title. However, 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 in this chapter, except notes or other evidences of indebtedness issued temporarily in anticipation of revenue. (Added 1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 13, eff. March 22, 1968; amended 2019, No. 131 (Adj. Sess.), § 268.)
§ 3685. 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, shall vote to apply to a neighboring consolidated sewer district for admission as a member of the district, the vote shall thereupon be certified by the clerk of the town to the clerk of the consolidated sewer district and to the Secretary of State. Such 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 subsection (b) of this section.
(b) When it appears to the board of sewer commissioners that the boundaries of the consolidated sewer 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 sewer commissioners if such change is approved.
(c) When a majority of the voters voting at such meeting vote to include an additional town within the boundaries of the consolidated sewer district as a member thereof, the board of sewer commissioners shall notify the legislative body of the additional town of the vote. Thereupon the legislative body of the additional town shall duly warn a meeting thereof, setting forth in such warning the vote of the consolidated sewer 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 the vote and the result of the vote already taken by the consolidated sewer district shall be certified to the Secretary of State, who shall record the same in his or her office. A certificate of such record shall immediately be filed by the Secretary of State in the office of the clerk of the consolidated sewer district and of any additional town to be included therein as a member thereof, which filing shall be notice to all parties of the addition to the consolidated district.
(d) The consolidated sewer district as so enlarged shall thereupon have all the powers and responsibilities given it by this chapter. Any vacancy on the board of sewer commissioners created as a result of the increase in the number thereof shall be filled as provided in section 3674 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. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 14, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3686. Withdrawal from district
(a) A town that is a member of a consolidated sewer district may vote to withdraw from the district if one year has elapsed since the district has become a body politic and corporate as provided in section 3673 of this title and if the consolidated sewer district has not voted to bond itself for construction or improvements. Any vote to withdraw before the expiration date of one year or after the district has voted bonds or other form of long term obligation shall be null and void.
(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 sewer district, the 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 sewer district shall be at an end as of December 31 immediately following or as soon thereafter as the obligations of the withdrawing town as incurred under this chapter have been paid to the district. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 15, eff. March 22, 1968.)
§ 3687. Eligibility for State aid
A consolidated sewer district formed under this chapter shall be eligible to receive State aid as provided in 10 V.S.A. chapter 55 and under the terms, conditions, and procedures set forth in these chapters. (1967, No. 318 (Adj. Sess.), § 16, eff. March 22, 1968; amended 1971, No. 97, § 2, eff. April 22, 1971.)