The Vermont Statutes Online
§ 703-1. Definitions
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) "The District" shall mean the municipality created by section 2 of this chapter pursuant to the provisions set forth in 24 V.S.A. § 3342. The functions of the District when pursued under the authority set forth in this chapter shall be governmental and not proprietary.
(2) "Town" shall mean any municipality within the meaning of 1 V.S.A. § 126.
(3) "Clerk" shall mean the permanent Clerk of the District.
(4) "The Board" shall mean the Board of Water Commissioners of the District.
(5) "The Treasurer" shall mean the Treasurer of the District.
(6) "Auditor" shall mean an Auditor of the District.
(7) "Properties" shall mean the water supply, storage and distribution system or systems of the District, including the plants, works, instrumentalities or part thereof and appurtenances thereto, including lands, easements, rights in land and water rights, rights of-way, contract rights, franchises, approaches, connections, dams, reservoirs, water mains and pipe lines, pumping stations and equipment, or any other property incidental to and included in such system or part thereof, and any improvements, extensions, and betterments thereto, together with any and all property, both real and personal wherever situated, as may be acquired by the District in its own name.
(8) "Bonds" shall mean the bonds, notes, and obligations, issued by the District, pursuant to this chapter.
(9) "Revenues" shall mean all rents, charges, and other income derived from the operation of the District. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 1.)
§ 703-2. Champlain Water District created
There is hereby created a consolidated water district to be known as the "Champlain Water District" which shall embrace the Towns of Colchester, Essex, Shelburne, South Burlington, and Williston, in the County of Chittenden and State of Vermont. The District may be enlarged under the provisions of section 17 of this chapter. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 2.)
§ 703-3. Legal status
The District created hereunder shall be a body politic and corporate with the powers incident to a municipal corporation as set forth in 24 V.S.A. § 3342(a), and shall further be for the purposes and charged with the duties and having the powers provided in this chapter. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 3.)
§ 703-4. Existing District
The District created hereunder shall supersede and substitute the presently existing Champlain Water District. The District shall, initially, have as its officers and commissioners, the officers and commissioners of the present Champlain Water District. The District shall succeed to the title of all properties, and shall assume all assets and liabilities of the present Champlain Water District. This chapter shall be deemed to ratify any and all previous actions taken by the existing Champlain Water District. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 4.)
§ 703-5. Powers of the District
The District shall have power:
(1) To sue and be sued;
(2) To have a seal and alter the same at pleasure;
(3) To acquire, in the name of the District lease, hold, and dispose of real estate and personal property or any interest therein for its corporate purposes, including the power to purchase prospective or tentative awards in connection with the exercise of the power of condemnation hereinafter granted;
(4) To purchase, design, or build in the name of the District, any water supply system, water distribution system, including plants, works, instrumentalities, or parts thereof and appurtenances thereto, lands, easements, rights in land and water rights, rights of-way, contract rights, franchises, approaches, connections, dams, reservoirs, water mains and pipe lines, pumping stations and equipment, or any other property incidental to and included in such system or part thereof, and any improvements, extensions and betterments; the District may purchase or accept by deed of gift any source of supply, or water supply system or any part thereof situated wholly or partly without the territorial limits of the District;
(5) To assume any obligations of the owner of any water system or any part thereof and, to the extent required by the terms of any indentures or other instruments under which such obligations were issued, the District may assume and agree to perform covenants and observe the restrictions contained in such instruments; and furthermore, the owner of any properties, which the District is authorized to acquire, is hereby authorized to sell or otherwise transfer the same to the District, whereupon the District may as it may agree become charged with the performance of any or all public duties with respect to such properties with which such owner was charged and such owner may become discharged from the performance thereof to the extent agreed upon by the District, and in the case of a sale or other transfer of properties of a public utility corporation pursuant to this provision, it shall be lawful to dissolve such corporation;
(6) To purchase all of the stock of any existing privately owned water corporation or company, and thereafter, within a reasonable time, such water corporation or company shall be dissolved;
(7) To condemn in the name of the District, within the territorial limits of the District any property interest in the manner and as provided by 24 V.S.A. §§ 3301-3304;
(8) To sell water to any or all municipalities or privately owned public water supply and distribution systems. To sell any surplus water to any duly established water district, municipality, or privately owned water supply and distribution system outside the District in which created. The District may also develop and provide a sufficient amount of water so as to supply water outside of the District to any municipality, duly established water district, or privately owned public water supply and distribution system; provided, that in exercising the powers granted by this chapter, the District shall not sell water in any area which is served by a water system owned or operated by a municipality unless the legislative branch of such municipality shall adopt a resolution requesting the District to sell water in such served area whereupon such request may not be revoked without the express written consent of the District;
(9) To purchase water from any person, private corporation, or municipality when necessary or convenient for the operation of such water supply and distribution system;
(10) By majority vote of the commissioners, to lease, sell, transfer, and dispose of any property, real, personal, or mixed, or interest therein, for its corporate purposes, including the right to sell, lease, convey, or otherwise dispose of any distribution system or improvements thereto which the District may acquire or construct to any municipal corporation or town water district, town water supply district, or to the County;
(11) To make bylaws for the management and regulation of its affairs and rules for the sale of water and the collection of rents and charges therefor. A copy of such rules and bylaws, and all amendments thereto, duly certified by the Clerk of the District shall be filed in the office of the Clerk;
(12) To execute all necessary or convenient contracts and other instruments, including evidences of indebtedness, negotiable or nonnegotiable;
(13) To enter on any lands, waterways, and premises for the purpose of making surveys, soundings, and examinations;
(14) To borrow money and to issue negotiable bonds or notes or other obligations and to fund or refund the same, and to provide for the rights of the holders of its obligations;
(15) To fix rates and collect charges for the use of the ties of, or services rendered by, or any commodities furnished by the District such as to provide revenues sufficient at all times to pay, as the same shall become due, the principal and interest on the bonds, notes, or other obligations of the District together with the maintenance of proper reserves therefor, in addition to paying as the same shall become due the expense of operating and maintaining the District together with proper reserves for depreciation, maintenance, and contingencies and all other obligations and indebtedness of the District;
(16) To enter into cooperative agreements with other water districts, municipalities, counties, towns, villages, utility companies, individuals, firms, or corporations, within or without the territorial limits of the District for the interconnection of facilities, the exchange or interchange of services and commodities, or for any other lawful purposes necessary or desirable to effect the purposes of this chapter;
(17) To accept grants, loans, or contributions from the United States, the State of Vermont, or any agency or instrumentality of either of them or the County, or an individual, by bequest or otherwise, and to expend the proceeds for any purposes of the District; and
(18) To do all things necessary or convenient to carry out the powers expressly given in this chapter. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 5; amended 1971, No. 266 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
§ 703-6. Organization and administration
(a) This chapter shall enter into effect immediately upon ratification at any duly warned annual or special meeting of the District subsequent to the passage hereof.
(b) The officers of the District shall be a permanent Clerk, a Treasurer, a Moderator and three auditors, all of whom shall have the same duties as in towns. The legislative branch of the District shall be the Board of Water Commissioners.
(c) All officers and commissioners of the existing Champlain Water District shall hold office for their existing terms and until others are elected and qualified following the first annual meeting. The selectmen 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 and to serve in that commissioner's place if that commissioner resigns or is unable to proceed while in office.
(d) The total number of water commissioners and the number from each member town may be agreed upon by the several member towns. In the absence of such agreement, the number shall be 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 majority vote of those present and voting; except that it shall always include at least one from each member town. Water commissioners to serve on the Board of Water Commissioners of the District 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 District officers shall be elected by the District at its annual meeting. When there is only one nominee for any of the aforementioned offices, the voters may, by acclamation, instruct an officer to elect said nominee by casting one ballot, and upon such ballot being cast, such nominee shall be declared to be legally elected.
(e) The commissioners shall be the administrative body of the District and shall have the same general powers and duties as conferred by statute upon selectmen. They may appoint committees as they deem necessary or appropriate and shall set all policies of the District as required by this chapter or as they may deem proper. The Board of Commissioners shall have the authority to appoint a Manager for the District and fix his or her compensation. The Board may delegate to such Manager any and all functions it may deem necessary and appropriate for the proper administration of the District, including the power to hire an administrative staff; provided, however, that the Board shall have the exclusive power to set and determine the policies of the District.
(f) Until such time as the District is in full operation and producing revenues, the Board of Commissioners shall have the authority to incur indebtedness on behalf of the District for the purpose of developing and constructing any facilities necessary for such operation, for compensating the administrative staff, and for any other related purpose it may deem necessary. Any borrowings which are not capitalized in the form of long-term obligations shall be made a portion of the budget for the first year of actual operation by the District in which it distributes a substantial quantity of water.
(g) 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. At the first meeting following April 1 of each year, the commissioners shall elect a Chairman. 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 out 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 30 days after the vacancy occurs and until the date when the newly elected officers take office. The vacancy shall then be filled at the next annual meeting of the District.
(h) The term of office of the water commissioners and the auditors shall be three years and of all other officers, one year. The initial terms and identity shall be the same as those of present commissioners, auditors, and other officers.
(i) All actions by the member towns in the formation of the original Champlain Water District are hereby ratified; and further, all actions of the Champlain Water District, including warnings and procedures in connection with the proposal to construct water facilities and the bond vote of May 21, 1970, is specifically ratified and declared to be of full force, and when issued, said bonds shall be a binding obligation upon the new Champlain Water District as established by this chapter. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 6; amended 1971, No. 266 (Adj. Sess.), § 2.)
§ 703-7. Meetings
(a) Annual meetings shall be held each year on the first Tuesday of April. The fiscal year of the District shall be July 1 through June 30 of the following year.
(b) 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.
(c) Any meeting called for the purpose of considering a bond issue shall be warned as is provided for in 24 V.S.A. chapter 53, subchapter 1 or any amendment thereof.
(d) 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 1971, No. 135, § 7; amended 1983, No. M-16 (Adj. Sess.), § 1.)
§ 703-8. 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. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 8.)
§ 703-9. Checklist
The clerk of each town within the District shall furnish to the Clerk of the District, at the expense of each member town, authenticated copies of the checklists of legal voters within said town as the same appears after revision of such check list before this last town meeting, annual or special, preceding the date of the District meeting, which checklist shall control for the purposes of determining the voters eligible to vote at the District meeting. Whenever a matter, including bond issues, is to be determined by ballot or voting machine, the Board of Water Commissioners may designate polling places in each member town. Each member town shall provide at its expense such polling places together with ballot clerks necessary to supervise the ballots in the same manner that elections are supervised in the towns under the appropriate Vermont statutes. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 9.)
§ 703-10. 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 an action of tort under 24 V.S.A. § 3347. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 10.)
§ 703-11. Water rates and revenues
(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of 24 V.S.A. § 3311, the Board of Water Commissioners of the District shall establish rates for the water and services by meter service, and all firms and corporations, whether private, public or municipal, shall pay to the Treasurer of the District the rates and stand-by charges established by the Board of Water Commissioners. An additional charge may be made by the District in addition to the uniform base rate where water is supplied to a member town through the system of another member town. The determination of any rate except as it may be otherwise provided in this chapter shall be in the discretion of the commissioners. 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. All rates shall be so established as to provide revenue for the following purposes:
(1) To pay current expenses for operating and maintaining the water systems;
(2) To provide for the payment of interest and principal on the indebtedness created by the District;
(3) If any surplus remains at the end of the year, it may be turned into a 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 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 herein provided. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 11; amended 1971, No. 266 (Adj. Sess.), § 3.)
§ 703-12. 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 such of said 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 such estimated revenues, expressing said sum in dollars in its vote.
(b) The Board of Water Commissioners may add any expense in excess of revenue to the next year's budget. In which case it may not be disapproved, provided that such expense shall not be so included to an amount greater than 20 percent of such budget except to the extent a larger amount can be included, as determined by the Board, without increasing the rates charged by the District. Any such excess which is not so included shall be divided among the member towns as follows: one-third of such excess, or all of such excess 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 which the population of each such town according to the last national census bears to the total population of the District, and the balance of such excess shall be divided among the member towns in the proportion which the total number of gallons sold by the District for distribution in each member town bears to the total number of gallons so sold for distribution in all the member towns in the calendar year in which the excess arose. Where one or more municipalities maintaining public water systems (the "contained municipalities") lie within a member town (the "containing town"), the following rules shall apply:
(1) A share based on population shall be computed for the containing town but not for any of the contained municipalities;
(2) Shares based on gallonage shall be computed as if each contained municipality were a separate member town and as if the territory of the contained municipalities were excluded from the territory of the containing town.
(c) The legislative branch of each member town shall, upon receipt of the notice of the shares of the District expenses to be paid by the member town, assess upon the grand list of such member town, in addition to any tax previously voted thereon, a tax sufficient to raise the member town's shares in such expenses. Where there are contained municipalities, the taxes to raise the population share of the containing town shall be assessed and collected by the containing town on a town-wide basis, and the taxes to raise the gallonage shares of the contained municipalities and of the containing town shall be assessed and collected by the containing town, but the territory of each contained municipality and the remaining territory of the containing town shall be treated as separate taxing Districts for the purpose of raising their respective gallonage shares. The taxes assessed under this act shall be collected as are other taxes of the assessing Town and be deposited in the account of the assessing town. The legislative branch of the assessing town shall order the additional taxes to be paid over to the Treasurer of the District as collected by the 20th of the month after such 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 population or gallonage share of the expenses of the District, or the gallonage share of any contained municipality, the legislative branch of such member town shall assess a special tax of five percent on the applicable grand list, or such multiple thereof as is necessary to make up the unpaid balance of said share, which special taxes shall be collected as are other taxes of the assessing town. Upon the collection of said special taxes, 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 any population or gallonage share of expenses of the District which it was to have collected, or fails to make up a deficit therein from the preceding year as above provided, the Board of Water Commissioners of the District may bring an action of contract on this statute in the name of the District to recover of the member town twice the amount due from it which remains unpaid, and upon judgment may levy its execution against any of the real or personal property within the town or the applicable taxing District as the case may be. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 12; amended 1971, No. 266 (Adj. Sess.), §§ 4 and 5.)
§ 703-13. 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 shares of each member town in such execution, with costs, interest, and other charges, to be paid by it in accordance with the formula established in subsection 12(b) of this chapter and shall give notice of the amount thereof to the legislative branch of each member town, or to the legislative branch of the containing Town in the case of contained municipalities. The gallonage shares shall be computed for this purpose on the basis of the calendar year on account of which the liability arose or, if such year is then in process, on the basis of the next preceding calendar year. Each member town through its proper officers shall forthwith pay to the Treasurer of the District its shares, and the shares of its contained municipalities, of such execution and any charges. To the extent that any such shares of the same shall not already have been raised by taxation in accordance with this act, the legislative branch shall forthwith assess and have collected taxes in the applicable taxing districts sufficient to pay the same in the manner its other taxes are assessed and collected. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 13; amended 1971, No. 266 (Adj. Sess.), § 6.)
§ 703-14. Debts and liabilities of member towns
No debt or liabilities of a town which is a member of the District shall accrue against the District. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 14.)
§ 703-15. Tax exemption
Property of the District shall be exempt from all taxation by any town. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 15.)
§ 703-16. Indebtedness
(a)(1) The District may incur indebtedness for public improvements and other purposes as provided by 24 V.S.A. chapter 53, subchapter 1. The limits on indebtedness in chapter 53 or otherwise shall not apply to indebtedness incurred or assumed by the District.
(2) Obligations incurred under subchapter 1 or as otherwise authorized in this act by the District, except obligations incurred under 24 V.S.A. chapter 53, subchapter 2, shall be the joint and several obligations of the District and the member towns composing it. However, as among such member towns, their respective shares of such 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 act shall not be considered in determining its debt limit for its own separate purposes. Bonds or other evidences of indebtedness of the District may be authorized for public improvements 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 such 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 such bonds or other evidences of indebtedness are issued. Interest up to and for not more than one year after commencement of regular operation of public improvements may be paid from obligations issued to finance such public improvements.
(b) The District may also issue bonds or other evidences of indebtedness pursuant to 24 V.S.A. chapter 53, subchapter 2, and any amendment thereof or addition thereto, and bonds payable solely from revenues may be issued while the District has outstanding other bonds or evidences of indebtedness for which the District and the member towns are jointly and severally liable as hereinbefore provided. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 16; amended 1971, No. 266 (Adj. Sess.), § 7.)
§ 703-17. 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 the District for admission as a member of the District, such vote shall thereupon be certified by the clerk of the town to the Clerk of the District and to the Secretary of State. Such vote and certification, if accepted by the District within two years after the date of said vote shall be binding on said town without the subsequent vote in the town contemplated in subsection (c) of this section.
(b) When it appears to the Board of Water Commissioners that the boundaries of the 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 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 District as a member thereof, the Board of Water Commissioners shall notify the legislative body of such additional town of such vote. Thereupon the legislative body of the additional town proposed to be included shall duly warn a meeting thereof, setting forth in such warning the vote of the 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 such vote and the result of the vote already taken by the District shall be certified to the Secretary of State. A certificate of such record shall immediately be filed by the Secretary of State in the office of the Clerk of the District and of any additional Town to be included therein as a member thereof, which filing shall be notice to all parties of such addition to the District.
(d) The District as so enlarged shall thereupon 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 thereof shall be filled as provided in 24 V.S.A. § 3343. The additional member town shall share in all existing expenses, including bonded indebtedness, in the proportion provided in this chapter for other members. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 17.)
§ 703-18. Withdrawal from the District
(a) A town which is a member of the District may vote to withdraw from the District if one year has elapsed since it joined said District provided that during that time the District has not voted to bond itself for construction or improvements.
(b) When a majority of the voters of a member town present and voting at a town meeting duly warned for that purpose shall vote to withdraw from the 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 District to be at an end as of December 31 immediately following or as soon thereafter as the obligations of said withdrawing town as incurred under this chapter have been paid to the District. Any withdrawing town shall also reimburse the District for all expenses incurred by the District in planning, engineering, and administrative services rendered for the purpose of delivering water to said town. No withdrawal shall be final until payment has been made for all services so rendered.
(c) A vote of withdrawal taken after the District has become a body politic and corporate as provided in section 4 of this chapter but less than one year after said date shall be null and void. A vote of withdrawal from the District taken after the District has voted to bond itself for construction or improvements shall be null and void. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 18; amended 1971, No. 266 (Adj. Sess.), § 8.)
§ 703-19. Amendments
This chapter may be amended in accordance with the terms and provisions of 17 V.S.A. § 2645 for the amendment of municipal charters. For this purpose, the word "municipality" in such statute shall be construed to mean "District," and "legal voters" as used in such statute shall be defined in accordance with section 8 of this chapter. No amendment shall be made which substantially adversely affects the rights of the holders of obligations of the District. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 19; amended 1971, No. 266 (Adj. Sess.), § 9.)
§ 703-20. Separability of provisions
(a) If any section, clause, or provision of this chapter shall be held unconstitutional, or be ineffective in whole or in part, to the extent that it is not unconstitutional or ineffective, it shall be valid and effective and no other section, clause, or provision shall, on account thereof, be deemed invalid or ineffective.
(b) Where any specific section, clause, or provision of this chapter conflicts with any general provision of the statutory laws of this State, laws other than Constitution, such section, clause, or provision of this chapter shall prevail unless the intent of such general statutory provision to amend this chapter is clear. (Added 1971, No. 135, § 20.)
§ 703-21. Ratification and validation
The ratification of No. 135 of the Acts of 1971 by the District and all proceedings taken thereunder are validated and confirmed in all respects. Any action heretofore authorized by the District under No. 135 of the Acts of 1971 or under prior law, including the bond vote of May 21, 1970, shall hereafter be implemented in accordance with the charter of the District as amended by this act. (Added 1971, No. 266 (Adj. Sess.), § 10.)