A bill containing numerous alterations to Bristol County Water Authority enabling legislation has been introduced to the General Assembly.
Rep. Joy Hearn (D-Dist. 66, Riverside, Barrington), Rep. Jan Malik (D-Dist 67, Warren, Barrington), Rep. Raymond Gallison Jr. (D-Dist. 69 Bristol, Portsmouth) and Rep. Ken Marshal (D-Dist. 68, Bristol, Warren) introduced a bill outlining the changes on Tuesday, Jan. 15. It was referred to the House Municipal Government Committee.
The proposed changes are as follow:
- By-laws shall be amended only by an affirmative vote of six of the directors and each town shall have at least one representative vote affirmatively for the required amendment to take effect. (This item specifies how the board of directors is able to modify its by-laws.)
- Directors shall be appointed based on their qualifications without regard for political affiliation. (The legislation currently states no more than two directors from each town shall be of the same political party.)
- Directors shall serve no more than four consecutive terms before they must relinquish their position for at least one three year term. Current members may continue for up to two more consecutive terms regardless of previous service. Directors may be removed from their positions by a majority vote of their local governing body. Each town shall develop and adopt standards for the removal of and expectations for its members on the board of directors. (The legislation currently has no term limit.)
- Directors shall receive compensation of $1,000 pro rata per year, while the chair shall receive $1,500. (The legislation currently states directors make $35 for each meeting attended up to $1,000 per year while the chairman makes $50 per meeting attended up to $1,500 per year.)
- A chairperson and vice-chairperson shall be elected by the board of directors. (The legislation currently states the vice-chairperson is designated by the chairperson.)
- Several actions must be approved by an affirmative vote of least six members including at least one from each town, such as the exercise of eminent domain, the issuance of bonds, notes or borrowing exceeding $500,000, rate alterations and the adoption of an annual budget. (The legislation currently requires an affirmative vote of at least seven directors.)
- The board of directors shall appoint an executive director and shall determine the amount of reasonable compensation for the position. (The alteration strikes language that allows the board to appoint a secretary and such additional officers, staff members and employees as it deems appropriate.)
- All actions taken by the board must comply with state Access to Public Record and Open Meeting laws. (This change adds detail to a section requiring public meetings unless in executive session is warranted.)
- One or more hearings must be held for public comment prior to the board of directors approving amendments to any rates and/or fees. Notice of these hearings shall be advertised in local newspapers of each town and posted in all three town halls. (The current legislation has no requirement for public hearings.)
- The authority must solicit proposals for the engagement of external professional services. (This entire section is new to the legislation.)