Introduced by Representative Winters of Williamstown
Subject: Municipal government; fire districts; charters; Williamstown fire district
Statement of purpose: This bill proposes to codify the Williamstown fire district charter and approve amendments to that charter.
AN ACT RELATING TO CODIFICATION AND APPROVAL OF AMENDMENTS TO THE CHARTER OF THE WILLIAMSTOWN FIRE DISTRICT
It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:
Sec. 1. CHARTER APPROVAL
The general assembly approves the Williamstown Fire District charter as provided in this act. Proposals of amendment were approved by the voters on March 1, 2005.
Sec. 2. 24 App. V.S.A. chapter 505 is added to read:
Chapter 505. WILLIAMSTOWN FIRE DISTRICT CHARTER
§ 1. NAME
The name of this municipality shall be the Williamstown Fire District.
§ 2. BODY CORPORATE AND CORPORATE LIMITS
(a) The legal voters of the district shall be a body corporate. The corporate limits shall be the boundary lines of the town of Williamstown, being bounded as follows: easterly by the line of Washington; southerly by the lines of Chelsea and Brookfield; westerly by the lines of Northfield and Berlin; and northerly by the lines of Berlin and Barre.
(b) While the district encompasses the same area as the Town of Williamstown, it shall be a corporate body separate from the Town of Williamstown. It shall elect its own officers, vote its own taxes, and manage its own affairs as follows:
(1) The fire district prudential committee shall, for the fire district, set a fire district tax rate in the same manner that the selectmen set the town tax rate as provided by section 2664 of Title 17.
(2) The prudential committee shall make contact with the town for the collection of fire district taxes.
§ 3. PURPOSE
The purpose of the fire district is to provide fire protection for the town of Williamstown and to provide such other protection as may seem prudent to safeguard the health and welfare of the inhabitants of Williamstown. None of the foregoing shall be construed to preclude other activities conferred generally on the fire district.
§ 4. VOTERS
Qualification and registration of voters for fire district purposes shall be as provided by Vermont law. The fire district shall use the town checklist which shall be revised by the town board of civil authority as provided under chapter 43 of Title 17 prior to annual or special meetings of the fire district.
§ 5. MEETINGS
(a) The annual meeting shall be held on the second Monday in January or at such other time as the district at any regular or special meeting may determine. Special meetings shall be called by the prudential committee when necessary, pursuant to chapter 55 of Title 17. It shall be the duty of the clerk/treasurer to notify and warn the voters of any annual or special meeting by posting notices in at least three public places in the district not less than 30 days nor more than 40 days before the day of the meeting.
(b) Conduct of meetings and duties of the moderator shall be as provided by chapter 55 of Title 17.
§ 6. OFFICERS; QUALIFICATION AND ELECTIONS
(a) At the annual meeting, the Williamstown Fire District shall choose from its legally qualified voters the following fire district officers, who shall serve until the next annual meeting and until successors are chosen, unless otherwise provided:
(1) a moderator to be elected by paper ballot;
(2) a clerk/treasurer who shall also serve as a member of the prudential committee and also serve as clerk to the prudential committee to be elected by paper ballot;
(3) one member of the prudential committee for a term of three years who shall be elected by paper ballot;
(4) one member of the prudential committee for a term of one year who shall be elected by paper ballot; and
(5) one auditor for a term of three years who shall be elected by paper ballot.
(b) The prudential committee shall be a five‑member committee, three of whom shall hold three‑year terms, one for a one‑year term, and the clerk/treasurer. The auditing committee shall be a three‑member committee.
(c) The offices of the prudential committee member, fire chief, first assistant chief, and second assistant chief shall be considered incompatible offices, meaning that one individual may not be elected to more than one of these offices.
(d) A fire chief for the Williamstown Fire District shall be appointed for one year as follows:
(1) Not less than 15 nor more than 30 days prior to the annual meeting, one nominee each for the position of fire chief shall be selected by majority vote of the prudential committee and by the members in good standing of the fire company. A third nominee for the position of fire chief shall be selected by majority vote at the annual meeting by paper ballot.
(2) Not more than 14 days following the annual meeting, the prudential committee shall appoint, from among the three nominees selected pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection, the fire chief for the district. In the event that no nominees are selected through the nominating process set forth in subdivision (1) of this subsection, the prudential committee shall, within 14 days following the annual meeting, appoint a fire chief to serve until a successor fire chief is appointed pursuant to subdivision (1) of this subsection.
(3) A fire chief may be removed from office prior to the expiration of his or her term only by the unanimous vote of the prudential committee. In the event the fire chief resigns or is removed from office prior to the expiration of his or her term, the prudential committee shall appoint an interim fire chief to serve for the remainder of the term.
(4) A fire chief or any interim fire chief shall appoint a first assistant fire chief and a second assistant fire chief, both to serve at the pleasure of the fire chief or interim fire chief.
§ 7. FIREFIGHTERS AND FIRE COMPANY
The fire district is authorized by this charter to form a fire company which shall be the firefighting agent for the district. Subject to the approval by the district, the prudential committee, the fire chief, and assistants may develop bylaws to govern the administration, size, and composition of the fire company and such other activities as are generally conferred on fire districts. Upon approval by the voters at an annual or special meeting, duly warned, the bylaws shall remain in effect until superseded in like manner.
§ 8. INDEBTEDNESS AND BONDING
The fire district may at a special or annual meeting, notice thereof having been given in the warning, vote to issue bonds of the fire district as provided in chapter 53 of Title 24.
The Vermont General Assembly
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