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NO. M-10. AN ACT RELATING TO MERGER OF THE TOWN OF WEST RUTLAND AND THE WEST RUTLAND FIRE DISTRICT #1.

(H.646)

It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:

Sec. 1. APPROVAL OF MERGER

The general assembly approves the merger of the West Rutland Fire District #1 and the Town of West Rutland. The plan of merger, which was approved by the voters of the Fire District and the Town on June 15, 1999, shall constitute the Charter of the Town of West Rutland as provided in this act.

Sec. 2. ADOPTION OF CHARTER

CHARTER OF THE TOWN OF WEST RUTLAND

Subchapter 1. Plan of Merger

§ 1. MERGER DATE

Upon the approval of the voters of the district and the town, West Rutland Fire District #1 (district) shall be merged into the Town of West Rutland as of July 1, 1999.

§ 2. TRANSFER OF ASSETS

Unless otherwise provided for in this plan of merger, all assets of the district, both real and personal, shall automatically be transferred to the town by virtue of this plan on July 1, 1999. If deemed necessary or desirable, the Prudential Committee of the district shall execute whatever documents may be necessary to transfer the assets.

§ 3. ASSUMPTION OF DEBT

(a) The town will assume the outstanding indebtedness and other obligations of the district as of the merger date. As with the transfer of assets, the district will provide to the town a list of its indebtedness and obligations, which list shall not be exclusive but merely to assist the town in the performance of its functions. Nevertheless, all long-term indebtedness of the district and the operating and maintenance costs of the system shall be paid for only by those taxpayers who are served by the system. The annual budget for the water system, including operational and maintenance costs and payments for long-term indebtedness, shall be computed separately as is presently done by the town for the sewer department. The operating and maintenance portion of the budget shall be paid for by the taxpayers receiving the water services by a flat fee, metered service, or some combination thereof. The long-term indebtedness of the district as of the merger date shall be amortized on the same basis as is presently being done by the district and will be payable only by those taxpayers receiving water service.

(b) The annual budget for the water service shall be set by the Board of Selectmen in the same manner as presently done for the town's sewer service and billed in such manner as the Board of Selectmen may determine. Furthermore, these assessments shall constitute a lien against the property of the taxpayer in the same manner as the town's real property taxes.

§ 4. EXTENSION OF WATER SERVICE

Nothing in this plan of merger shall obligate the town to extend water services beyond those properties receiving water services as of the merger date.

§ 5. INTERIM OPERATION

Between the time this plan of merger is approved by the Prudential Committee of the district and the Board of Selectmen and the merger date, the district shall not make any purchases not budgeted for in the 1999-2000 budget, nor enter into any agreements calling for the district to provide services or perform work after the merger date nor agree to extend service outside the present boundaries of the fire district, without the prior approval of the Board of Selectmen. Nothing in the preceding sentence will prohibit the district, however, from taking such steps it deems necessary to protect the health, safety and welfare of its members because of any emergency situation arising during the interim operation. In addition, the district will operate the system in accordance with all applicable state and federal laws and regulations during the interim operation period.

§ 6. INSURANCE

The district shall maintain during the interim operation all insurance policies it has in effect and the district will fully cooperate with the town to insure that coverage continues on and after the merger date without any gaps in coverage.

§ 7. FIRE DEPARTMENT

(a) Upon merger, the existing fire department of the district shall become a fire department of the town under chapter 57 of Title 24 of the Vermont Statutes Annotated. All equipment and apparatus of the fire department shall become property of the town. The district's fire chief and assistant fire chiefs, if any, as of the merger date shall become the town's fire chief and assistant fire chiefs until their terms under the district's rules and regulations expire. Similarly, the district's firefighters as of the merger date shall continue in their positions as the town's firefighters until their terms expire under the district's rules and regulations. Nothing herein shall preclude the removal of a person from his or her position as provided in 24 V.S.A. § 1954 or the removal of the fire chief or assistant fire chiefs, as provided in 24 V.S.A. § 1953.

(b) The selectmen, in consultation with the fire chief and the assistant fire chiefs, shall adopt rules and regulations for the appointment and removal of officers; compensation, appointment and removal of firefighters and personnel rules as permitted under 24 V.S.A. chapter 57.

(c) The operation and maintenance expenses of the fire department shall be paid from the general fund of the town for the 1999-2000 fiscal year. Thereafter, 24 V.S.A. § 1955 shall govern the source of funds for the expenditures of the fire department.

(d) Any references to statutory sections shall include any amendments or replacements of those sections.

§ 8. TERMINATION OF OFFICES

As of the merger date, the Prudential Committee of the district and any other offices of the district (not including the Fire Department offices, which is governed in section 7 of this subchapter) shall cease to exist except as follows:

(1) The Prudential Committee may sign whatever documentation is necessary to transfer title of assets under section 2 of this subchapter.

(2) The District's Treasurer or Collector, or both, for such term after the merger as the Board of Selectmen may determine and may assist the town in transferring and collecting any monies, accounts or debts owed to the district to the town. They shall be paid an hourly wage as agreed upon by them and the Board of Selectmen.

§ 9. EXPIRATION OF PLAN

If this plan of merger is not approved by the voters of both municipalities, it shall be void.

Sec. 3. EFFECTIVE DATE; RETROACTIVE APPLICATION

This act shall take effect upon passage and shall apply retroactively to

July 1, 1999.

Approved: March 23, 2000