Topic:
HOME RULE; METROPOLITAN DISTRICT COMMISSION; MUNICIPALITIES; SPECIAL DISTRICTS;
Location:
GOVERNMENT, REGIONAL;

OLR Research Report


September 26, 2008

 

2008-R-0533

LAWS ON REGIONAL ENTITIES

By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst

You asked for a brief description of the regional entities current law allows municipalities to form, how they are formed, and their responsibilities and powers. We also briefly discuss other statutes allowing municipalities to collaborate on different activities without forming a regional entity.

SUMMARY

The law allows municipalities to form interlocal bodies for a wide range of purposes. Any two municipalities, by vote of their legislative bodies, may form a municipal district to perform any municipal function which the municipalities may perform separately under the statutes or special act. It also provides for the creation of metropolitan districts, with the same powers, whose creation is subject to referendum.

The law has specific provisions regarding the establishment of a wide variety of regional entities with responsibilities in health, education, transportation, waste management, and economic development, among other things. In most cases, a vote by the participating municipalities' legislative bodies is required to form these entities. These entities have a wide range of powers. Some of the entities can issue bonds but none have independent taxing authority.

Other statutes allow two or more municipalities to collaborate on different activities without forming an interlocal body. They can, among other things, (1) jointly issue bonds, (2) enter into agreements to share property tax revenues, (3) jointly perform any function that the individual municipalities are authorized to perform, and (4) enter into interlocal agreements regarding the provision of a wide range of municipal services.

In most cases, these three sets of laws apply to boroughs and unconsolidated cities as well as towns.

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Municipal Districts

CGS 7-330 et seq. allows any two municipalities, by vote of their legislative bodies, to form a district to perform any municipal function which the municipalities may perform separately under the general statutes or special act. Any municipality may, by vote of its legislative body, apply to subsequently join the district and the district's board may admit the municipality.

The district's board must consist of two members from each member municipality appointed by the board of selectmen of towns, the council or board of aldermen of cities, or the board of burgesses of boroughs. Any municipality having a population of more than 5,000 as determined by the last census is entitled to one additional representative for each additional 5,000 residents or fraction thereof. The board members must serve staggered three-year terms. The board must determine each member municipality's proportional share of the district's indebtedness and current expenditures for its projects. Any municipality may, by vote of its legislative body, subsequently apply to join the district and the board may admit the municipality. Any member municipality may, by vote of its legislative body, withdraw from the district, but the withdrawal is not effective until six months after the vote and does not relieve the municipality of any liability it incurred as a member of the district.

Metropolitan Districts

CGS 7-333 et seq. allows any municipality with a population of at least 25,000 (“center city”) and any municipalities within 15 miles of this municipality to form a metropolitan district to perform one or more functions, services, or works which any of the member municipalities is authorized to perform under the statutes or by special act. The creation of the metropolitan district must be initiated by (1) a two-thirds vote of the central city's legislative body and one or more municipalities in the 15-mile radius towns, cities or boroughs in the metropolitan area or (2) by petition filed with the clerk of any such municipality for submission to the legislative body and signed by at least 10% of the voters of the municipalities wishing to form a metropolitan district.

The law requires the establishment of a charter commission and specifies how the charter must be prepared. The charter must, among other things, provide for the structure and organization of the metropolitan district government, its powers and duties, the means of financing its operations, the admission of additional municipalities as members of the metropolitan district, the withdrawal of any constituent municipality, and the dissolution of the district. The district charter supersedes any existing municipal charter provisions and special act provisions that are inconsistent with the district's charter.

Between 90 days and one year after the first meeting of the charter commission, a proposed district charter must be submitted to the voters of each municipality to be included in the district. The charter becomes effective if approved by a majority of the voters voting on it so long as this majority is at least 15% of the total number of voters in the affected municipalities.

The district has powers granted to any of its member municipalities under the constitution, general statutes, and special acts, unless prohibited by its charter.

SPECIFIC PURPOSE ENTITIES

Table 1 describes the types of regional entities and how they are formed. Generally, the formation requires the approval of the legislative bodies of the participating municipalities. In some cases, the municipalities must meet specified criteria to form the regional entity. In addition to these entities, several special acts have created regional water authorities serving south central and southeastern Connecticut.

Table 1: Formation of Special Purpose Regional Entities

Entity

CGS

Formation

District Departments of

Health

19a-241

et seq.

Vote of the municipalities' legislative bodies. Subsequent members must also gain approval of the district's board.

Regional Water Pollution Control Authority

22a-500

et seq.

Concurrent ordinances of the participating municipalities. The municipalities must prepare and submit a preliminary plan of operation for the authority to the Environmental Protection commissioner and the State Treasurer for their review and approval. Each plan must specify how the authority's bonds will be approved.

Resources Recovery Authority

7-273aa

et seq.

Concurrent ordinances of founding members, which must determine the number of the authority's members, the number of votes to be cast by each member, the method of determining members' compensation (if any), the method of their appointment and removal, and their terms of office. Subsequent members may join under terms and conditions set by the authority.

Regional Solid Waste Management Authority

22a-207 et seq.

Can be formed by the participating municipalities creating a district, signing an interlocal agreement, or signing a mutual contract for a definitive period of time.

Development and Industrial

Commissions

7-137a

Any two or more municipalities with economic development commissions can each adopt an ordinance to form a commission.

Regional Education Service

Centers (RESCs)

10-66a et seq.

May be established by four or more local or regional boards of education within a state planning region designated by the Office of Policy and Management (OPM). They must submit a plan for organization and operation of the RESC to the State Board of Education for its approval.

Regional School Districts

10-39

et seq.

Two or more local or regional school districts may, by vote of their legislative bodies, establish a temporary regional school study committee. The legislative body of each town must appoint five members to such committee, at least two of whom must be board of education members. The committee must study the advisability of establishing a regional school district and report to the respective towns. Upon completion of its study, the committee must present a written report of its findings and recommendations to the State Board of Education and the town clerk of each participating town. If the committee finds that establishment of a regional school district is advisable, the State Board of Education accept or reject the committee's recommendations. If the board accepts the committee report, the participating towns must hold a referendum on whether to create the district.

Regional Housing Authorities

8-40

Action by “governing bodies” of two or more municipalities

Table 1: -Continued-

Entity

CGS

Formation

Transit Districts

7-273b

Vote by legislative body of the municipality to form, join or leave a district. Joining a district is subject to being accepted by a majority vote of the district's directors.

River Commission

25-232

Ordinances adopted by two or more municipalities with a river corridor flowing through them or forming a common boundary of the municipalities.

Harbor Management

Commissions

22a-113k

Concurrent ordinances of the legislative bodies of two or more municipalities whose common boundaries lie within navigable waters.

Public Recreational Facilities Authority

7-130a et seq.

Concurrent ordinances of founding municipalities, upon terms and conditions as the authority determines for subsequent members.

Regional Councils of

Governments

4-124i et seq.

Passage of ordinances by the legislative bodies of at least 60% of the municipalities in a planning region designated by OPM. If this threshold is met, all of the municipalities are entitled to membership on the council.

Regional Councils of

Elected Officials

4-124c et seq.

Adoption of ordinances of the legislative bodies of two or more municipalities within an OPM-defined planning region. Municipalities can join the council by adoption of an ordinance by their legislative bodies.

Regional Planning Agencies

8-35a

Adoption of ordinances of the legislative bodies of two or municipalities within an OPM-defined planning region, so long as the total number of representatives of these municipalities equals 60% sixty per or more of the total number of representatives possible of all the municipalities, with representation weighted by population.

Interlocal Risk

Management Agency

7-479a et seq.

Resolution of the participant's legislative body (board of selectmen or town council in towns with town meeting or representative town meeting)

Table 2 describes the responsibilities and powers of the regional entities (the description is not exhaustive). Some of the regional entities, such as regional school districts and water pollution control authorities have all of the powers of their local counterparts. In addition to the powers listed in the table, many of the entities may hire staff, enter into contracts, and purchase property.

Table 2: Responsibilities and Powers of Special Purpose

Regional Entities

Entity

Responsibilities/Powers

District Departments of

Health

Enforce the Public Health Code; abate nuisances; and provide for the financing of the district's programs, projects or other functions, through means including borrowing.

Table 2: -Continued-

Entity

Responsibilities/Powers

Regional Water Pollution Control Authority

Determine the location of and develop wastewater systems; acquire property by purchase or eminent domain; levy assessments on property benefited by the system; set sewerage rates and charges; and issue bonds. The authority is eligible for grants from the Clean Water Fund.

Resources Recovery Authority

Conduct a comprehensive program for solid waste disposal and resources recovery and for solid waste management services. Acquire property by purchase, transfer, or by condemnation. Develop, own, operate and maintain resources recovery projects. Issue bonds which are secured as to both principal and interest by (1) the full faith and credit of the municipalities, (2) revenues derived from the operation of a facility, or (3) a pledge of revenues to be derived from the operation of a facility and the municipalities' full faith and credit.

Regional Solid Waste Management

Authority

Provide for processing, storage, or disposal outside of the authority's boundaries of solid wastes generated within its boundaries.

Development

And Industrial

Commissions

Promote and develop the region's economic resources. The commission must (1) recommendations to appropriate officials and agencies on how to improve the region's economic condition and development and (2) seek to coordinate the activities of and cooperate with unofficial bodies organized to promote economic development. The commission may (1) may conduct research into the economic conditions and trends and (2) advertise and prepare, print and distribute books, maps, charts and pamphlets.

RESCs

Provide programs, services and activities agreed upon by the member boards of education. Issue bonds payable from or secured by a pledge, lien, mortgage or other security interest in (1) the income, proceeds, revenues and property of its projects, assets, programs or other functions, including the proceeds of grants, loans, advances, guarantees or contributions from the federal government, state or any other source; or (2) the property of projects to be financed by the bonds.

Regional School Districts

Regional districts have all of the powers of local school districts and may also may purchase, lease or rent property for school purposes and agree to pay any bonds or other capital indebtedness issued by a town for the purchased land and buildings.

Regional Housing Authorities

Has all of the powers of local housing authorities, including acquiring property by purchase or eminent domain, developing and operating low and moderate income housing projects, and issuing bonds.

Transit Districts

Acquire, operate, finance, plan, develop, and maintain all forms of land transportation.

Acquire property by purchase or eminent domain.

Develop and maintain transportation centers and parking facilities. Set fares and rates.

Table 2: -Continued-

Entity

Responsibilities/Powers

River Commission

Prepare an inventory of all resources and all existing uses within the areas of the local drainage basin of the river corridor. Identify resources which should be preserved or enhanced, existing uses which should be maintained, degraded areas which should be restored, and areas in which potential industrial, commercial and other uses could be accommodated without degrading the corridor's resources. Prepare a plan for coordinated management of the development, protection and preservation of the corridor.

Harbor Management

Commissions

Prepare a management plan for the most desirable use of the harbor for recreational, commercial, industrial and other purposes. The commission may review and make recommendations, consistent with the plan, on proposals affecting property on, in, or contiguous to the harbor that is received by local land use agencies and certain other local agencies.

Public Recreational Facilities Authority

Develop recreational facilities such as swimming pools, golf courses, gyms, and museums. Regulate the uses of lands and facilities under its control, subject to land use regulations of the municipality in which such lands or facilities are located. Participating municipalities may (a) transfer jurisdiction over, lease, lend, grant or convey to the authority at its request property to carry out the authority's purposes, under terms and conditions set by the municipalities' legislative bodies; and (b) make appropriations and provide funds for the authority's purposes.

Regional Councils of

Governments/

Regional Councils of

Elected Officials

Consider matters common to two or more municipalities, including health, safety, welfare, education, and economy. Promote cooperative arrangements, recommend and coordinate actions among municipalities, perform functions within the region.

Regional Planning Agencies

Prepare 10-year regional plans of conservation and development.

Recommend metropolitan, regional, or intermunicipal arrangements for economic development, operating public facilities, or providing services.

Upon request from a member municipality, study if it's feasible to build a facility or deliver a service.

Recommend contractual arrangements for such studies.

Interlocal Risk

Management Agency

Form and administer workers' compensation, public liability, automobile, and property risk management pools. Issue bonds and other obligations payable solely from and secured by a lien upon the agency's income or property.

OLR report 2003-R-0472 provides information on the services provided by Regional Economic Development Corporations. OLR report 2005-R-0900 provides information on regional planning organizations. OLR report 2000-R-0655 describes the legislative history of the law governing public recreational facilities authorities. Finally, OLR report 2006-R-0616 describes cooperative arrangements school districts may enter into, outside of forming regional school districts.

RELATED STATUTES

Joint Issuance of Bonds

CGS 7-136n allows two or more municipalities to jointly issue bonds, subject to the approval of each municipality's legislative body, to pay all or part of the cost of any project or activity they enter into jointly. The municipalities may issue bonds backed by (1) their general revenues; (2) the income and revenues of a particular project; or (3) the income and revenues of certain designated projects, whether or not they are financed from the bond proceeds. The bonds may be additionally secured by a pledge of any grant or contribution from a participating municipality, the state or its subdivisions or agencies, any federal agency, or any private corporation, among other things. The bonds are not a debt of the state or its subdivisions other than the municipalities issuing the bonds. Generally, the bonds do not count against the municipalities' debt limits.

Property Tax Revenue Sharing Agreements

CGS 7-148bb allows the chief elected officials of two or more municipalities to initiate a process for the municipalities to enter into an agreement to share revenues received for payment of real and personal property taxes. The agreement must be prepared following negotiations, which include an opportunity for public participation, and must contain all provisions on which there is mutual agreement between the municipalities. These can include specification of the tax revenues to be shared and the collection and uses of the shared revenue. The agreement must establish procedures for its amendment, termination and withdrawal. The agreement must be approved by each municipality that is a party to the agreement by resolution of its legislative body.

Joint Performance of Municipal Functions

CGS 7-148cc allows two or more municipalities to jointly perform any function that each municipality may perform separately under the general statutes, special act, charter or home rule ordinance. Each participating municipality must approve any agreement entered into in the same way as an ordinance or if no ordinances are approved by the participating municipality, in the same way as the budget is approved. The terms of each agreement must establish a process for withdrawing from the agreement and must require that the agreement be reviewed at least once every five years by the body that approved the agreement to assess its effectiveness in enhancing the performance of the function that is the subject of the agreement.

Interlocal Agreements

CGS 7-339 et seq. allow municipalities, municipal districts, and metropolitan districts to enter into agreements with each other or their counterparts in other states regarding municipal services. The participants can agree on the exchange, furnishing or providing by one or more of the participants of services, personnel, facilities, equipment or other property or resources. The agreements can cover the following areas, among others: fire, ambulance, and police services; water supply; garbage collection and disposal; sewage treatment and disposal; establishment or use of parks and other recreational areas or facilities; engineering services; library or bookmobile services; transportation services; and redevelopment services.

The agreement can provide for interlocal employees of the participants to administer or assist in any of the undertakings. The participants can also form an interlocal advisory board to recommend programs and policies for cooperative or uniform action in of these areas and advise the appropriate officials of the participants with in respect to the programs, policies, or fields of activity. The agreement cannot expand the powers of the participants beyond those granted by the law.

The law specifies how the participants must enter into an agreement. The agencies proposing an interlocal agreement must submit a copy of the proposed agreement to the legislative body of each participating municipality or district. Within 30 days, the legislative body of each municipality or district must hold at least one public hearing on the proposed agreement (the hearing requirement does not apply to towns with a town meeting form of government). Within 15 days after the last hearings, the municipality or district must submit to each other participant any recommendations for changes in the proposed agreement that it considers desirable.

If no recommendations for changes are submitted, the agreement is considered final. If recommendations for changes are submitted, the participants must submit a final report to the legislative body of each municipality or district together with a copy of its proposed agreement, if it has been revised.

Within 30 days after an agreement has become final, it must be ratified or rejected by vote of the participants' legislative bodies. If any subject contained in an agreement must be submitted to a referendum before being undertaken individually or jointly (pursuant to the statutes, special act, or local law), the agreement must be submitted to a referendum of the electors of the municipality or district and is not considered ratified by the municipality or district until approved at the referendum.

Unless an agreement requires ratification by a specific number of participants, it takes effect for the ratifying participants when the agreement provides. Rejection by any participating agency does not void an agreement as to other ratifying agencies, unless the agreement so provides.

Transfer of Development Rights

CGS 8-2e allows two or more municipalities with zoning authority, with the approval of each municipality's legislative body, execute an agreement providing for a system of development rights and the transfer of these rights across the boundaries of the participating municipalities. The system must be implemented in a way approved by the legislative body of each municipality and by the commission or other body which adopts each municipality's zoning regulations.

Joint Operation of Sewerage Systems

Under CGS 7-272, two or more municipalities may enter into, revise, and fulfill contracts jointly to acquire, construct or operate all or any part of a sewerage system. The agreement must specify (1) the portions of the sewerage system to be jointly acquired, constructed or operated; (2) the acts relating to acquiring, constructing or operating such portion or portions of the sewerage system to be performed jointly by the municipalities; and (3) how to apportion the costs of the system.

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