1998 Regular Session
To: Public Utilities
By: Representative Endt
House Bill 240
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 21-27-17, 21-27-23, 77-3-33, 19-5-167 AND 51-8-29, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE WATER AND SEWAGE SERVING DISTRICTS TO REFUND DEPOSITS PAID BY CONSUMERS OR CUSTOMERS FOR WATER AND SEWAGE SERVICES AFTER THE CUSTOMER OR CONSUMER HAS RECEIVED THE SERVICES FOR FIVE YEARS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 21-27-17, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
21-27-17. The commission provided for by Section 21-27-13 is authorized to make such bylaws for the holding and conduct of its meetings and such other regulations as it may deem necessary for the safe, economic and efficient management and protection of the system or systems, and such bylaws and regulations shall have the same validity as an ordinance duly passed by the governing authorities of any municipality.
It is authorized to elect such officers and appoint such employees as may be necessary to operate the system or systems efficiently, and it shall have the entire control and management of such system or systems, together with all property connected or appertaining in any manner to such system or systems. The commission shall have the authority to employ a superintendent or manager of the systems, who shall have actual charge of the management and operation thereof and of the enforcement and execution of all the rules, regulations, programs, plans and decisions made and adopted by the commission in making purchases for materials and supplies to be used in the operation of the systems. In addition to any other purchasing authority granted by law, the commission may purchase electric transmission line materials, electric distribution system substation equipment, transformer equipment, and all other appliances, apparatus, machinery, equipment and appurtenances necessary for the sale of electricity, such as utility vehicles and fencing, from the surplus inventory of the Tennessee Valley Authority or any other similar agency of the federal government and electric power associations. These purchases shall be exempt from the public bid requirements prescribed in Sections 31-7-12 and 31-7-13. However, for all other purchases, the commission shall advertise for competitive bids in the manner and form as is required in accordance with Section 31-7-13. The superintendent or manager shall make and keep full and proper books and records of all purchases and shall submit them to the commission for its approval and ratification before payment thereof is authorized to be made. It shall have the right to fix the salaries and term of office of all employees and to direct them in the discharge of their duties. It shall have the right to require good and sufficient bonds from all officers and employees in such amounts as it may deem proper. It shall have the right to discharge employees when found inefficient or for other good cause. It shall have the power to make and collect rates for services and facilities, and appropriate funds for the maintenance and improvements of such systems. It is authorized to borrow from the Mississippi Development Bank in order to fund advance purchases of energy for gas producing, generating, transmission or distribution system or its electric generating, transmission or distribution system. It is authorized to insure all property used in the operation of such systems, including buildings, furniture, books and records, against loss by fire and tornado, and to carry sufficient amount of employers liability, steam boiler, plate glass and other miscellaneous casualty insurance, as in the discretion of the commission may be deemed proper, and to pay premiums therefor out of the funds derived from the operation of the systems. It shall report quarterly to the governing authorities of the municipality of all its doings and transactions of every kind whatsoever and shall make a complete statement of the financial condition of the systems at the end of each quarter, and shall annually make a detailed statement covering the entire management and operation of the systems, with any recommendations which it may have for the further development of the systems. At any time, the commission, by order or resolution, may authorize the expansion of activities of any component facility to include processing of materials on a custom basis or the processing and marketing of materials acquired to fully and efficiently utilize existing plant capacity. It shall also provide copies of all such quarterly and annual reports and statements to the Public Service Commission when so directed under Section 77-3-6. The commission shall require all water systems, sewage systems or combination water and sewage systems under its jurisdiction to return those funds deposited by customers with the system for the purpose of receiving the system's services after the customer has received services from the system for five (5) years.
SECTION 2. Section 21-27-23, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
21-27-23. Any municipality is authorized and empowered:
(a) To borrow money and to issue revenue bonds therefor solely for the purposes specified in this section and by the procedure provided in Sections 21-27-41 through 21-27-69.
Money may be borrowed and bonds issued by any municipality of the State of Mississippi, as hereinbefore defined, to acquire or improve any waterworks system, water supply system, sewerage system, sewage disposal system, garbage disposal system, rubbish disposal system or incinerators, gas producing system, gas generating system, gas transmission system, or gas distribution system, electric generating, transmission or distribution system, or motor vehicle transportation system, including any combination of any or all of those systems into one (1) system, within or without the corporate limits thereof, for the purpose of supplying such municipality and the persons and corporations, both public and private, whether within or without its corporate limits, with the services and facilities afforded by such system, provided that water, electric energy, or gas afforded by any such system or systems may be supplied to such ultimate consumers thereof by sale thereof to the owners or operators of a distribution system for resale to the public. Any municipality which shall borrow money and issue revenue bonds to provide funds with which to acquire a gas transmission system may, if necessary, in order to reach and obtain a source of supply of gas for such municipality, extend or construct its gas transmission line into an adjoining state, and may use and expend part of the proceeds of such issue of revenue bonds for such purpose.
(b) To assume all indebtedness for any system or systems which may be acquired under the provisions of this section as all or part of the consideration for the acquisition of such system or systems and to issue its revenue bonds in exchange for the bonds or notes evidencing such indebtedness.
(c) To acquire or improve any system which it is authorized to borrow money and issue revenue bonds under subsection (a) of this section to acquire or improve; and to make contracts in furtherance thereof or in connection therewith.
(d) To own, operate and maintain any such system or combination of any and all of said systems into one (1) system.
(e) To establish, maintain and collect rates for the facilities and services offered by any such system; provided that if there is a combination of systems into one or more systems, the municipality establishing the same shall be and is empowered to establish, maintain and collect rates for any and all of the services or for any combination thereof, and such municipality shall be and is authorized to discontinue any or all of the services upon any failure to promptly pay the charges fixed for the services. The rates so fixed for services rendered by any system or combination thereof may be charged for all services rendered thereby, regardless of whether or not such services may have been previously rendered without rates or charges therefor by the previously existing waterworks system, water supply system, sewerage system, sewage disposal system, garbage disposal system, rubbish disposal system or incinerators, gas producing system, gas generating system, gas transmission system, or gas distribution system, electric generating, transmission or distribution system, which shall have been merged into such combined system. Any such municipality is authorized to pledge for the payment of any bonds issued to acquire or improve any such combined system, or to refund any bonds previously issued to acquire or improve any such combined system or to acquire or improve any system merged with such combined system, the revenues to be derived from the operation of such combined system, including the charges authorized to be imposed by this section.
If the revenues of any previously existing system being merged into a combined system are subject to a prior lien, the revenues and the expenses of any such previously existing system shall be accounted for separately to the extent necessary to satisfy the covenants relating to such prior lien for so long as the indebtedness secured by such revenues shall remain outstanding. Only surplus revenues remaining after the satisfaction of all covenants relating to said outstanding indebtedness may be pledged to the retirement of any indebtedness to be secured by the revenues of a combined system. The existence of such outstanding indebtedness shall not, in and of itself, prevent the combining of systems as herein provided, so long as the prior lien on the revenues of any previously existing system is fully satisfied from the revenues of said previously existing system.
(f) To acquire property, real or personal, which may be necessary to effectuate the powers herein conferred. The municipality may purchase electric transmission line materials, electric distribution system substation equipment, transformer equipment, and all other appliances, apparatus, machinery, equipment and appurtenances necessary for the sale of electricity, such as utility vehicles and fencing, from the surplus inventory of the Tennessee Valley Authority or any other similar agency of the federal government and electric power associations. These purchases by the municipality shall be exempt from the public bid requirements prescribed in Sections 31-7-12 and 31-7-13. If the power of eminent domain is exercised, it shall be exercised in the manner provided by Sections 11-27-1 through 11-27-51.
(g) To enter into contract with the United States of America or any agency thereof, under the provisions of acts of the Congress of the United States, to aid or encourage public works and the regulations made in pursuance thereof, for the sale of bonds issued in accordance with the provisions of Sections 21-27-41 through 21-27-69 or for the acceptance of a grant to aid such municipality in acquiring or improving any such system; and such contracts may contain such terms and conditions as may be agreed upon by and between the municipality and the United States of America or any agency thereof, or any purchaser of such bonds.
(h) To adopt such ordinances and resolutions and to do all things and perform all acts necessary, proper or desirable to effectuate the full intent and purpose of Sections 21-27-11 through 21-27-69, including processing, marketing, custom processing, sale and resale of materials processed through any facility under its jurisdiction. All water supply systems, sewage systems or any combination of the two (2) are required to refund deposits made by a customer to receive those services from the system after the customer has received services from the system for five (5) years.
(i) To borrow from the Mississippi Development Bank in order to fund the advance purchase of energy for its gas producing, generating, transmission or distribution system or its electric generating, transmission or distribution system.
SECTION 3. Section 77-3-33, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
77-3-33. (1) No rate made, deposit or service charge demanded or received by any public utility shall exceed that which is just and reasonable. Such public utility, the rates of which are subject to regulation under the provisions of this article, may demand, collect and receive fair, just and reasonable rates for the services rendered or to be rendered by it to any person. Rates prescribed by the commission shall be such as to yield a fair rate of return to the utility furnishing service, upon the reasonable value of the property of the utility used or useful in furnishing service. The commission shall require that deposits paid by a consumer to receive water, sewage or combination water and sewage services be refunded back to the consumer after the consumer has received the services for five (5) years.
(2) Such utility shall furnish adequate, efficient and reasonable service, and may establish reasonable rules governing the conduct of its business and the conditions under which it shall be required to render service. The commission * * *, after hearing upon reasonable notice had, upon its own motion or upon complaint, may ascertain and fix just and reasonable standards, regulations and practices of service which are to be furnished, imposed, observed and followed by all public utilities. The commission may require the service, rules and regulations of each public utility to be filed with the commission and subjected to its approval or to such changes therein as the commission reasonably may require. Practices required or sanctioned pursuant to the provisions of this article shall supersede other requirements of law.
(3) Such utility may employ in the conduct of its business suitable and reasonable classifications of its service, patrons, rates, deposits and service charges. The classification * * *, in any proper case, may take into account the nature of the use, the quantity and quality used, the time when used, the purpose for which used, and any other reasonable consideration.
SECTION 4. Section 19-5-167, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
19-5-167. (1) The powers of each such district shall be vested in and exercised by a board of commissioners consisting of five (5) members to be appointed by the board of supervisors. Upon their initial appointment, one (1) of the commissioners shall be appointed for a term of one (1) year; one (1) for a term of two (2) years; one (1) for a term of three (3) years; one (1) for a term of four (4) years; and one (1) for a term of five (5) years; thereafter, each commissioner shall be appointed and shall hold office for a term of five (5) years. Any vacancy occurring on such a board of commissioners shall be filled by the board of supervisors at any regular meeting of such board of supervisors, and the board of supervisors shall have the authority to fill all unexpired terms of any commissioner or commissioners. Notwithstanding the appointive authority herein granted to the board of supervisors, its legal and actual responsibilities, authority and function, subsequent to the creation of any such district, shall be specifically limited to such appointive function and responsibilities outlined in Sections 19-5-179, 19-5-189 and 19-5-191. The operation, management, abolition or dissolution of such district, and all other matters in connection therewith, shall be vested solely and only in the board of commissioners to the specific exclusion of the board of supervisors, and the abolition, dissolution or termination of any such district shall be accomplished only by unanimous resolution of the board of commissioners. The board of commissioners of a fire protection district created under Sections 19-5-151 et seq., by unanimous resolution, may dissolve such district and, under Sections 19-5-215 et seq., may create a fire protection grading district consisting of the same boundaries as the previously existing fire protection district. Petition and election requirements of Sections 19-5-217 through 19-5-227 shall not apply where the board of commissioners dissolves a fire protection district and creates a fire protection grading district under this section. Except as otherwise provided herein, such board of commissioners shall have no power, jurisdiction or authority to abolish, dissolve or terminate any such district while such district has any outstanding indebtedness of any kind or character, unless such dissolution or termination is accomplished under the provisions of Section 19-5-207. If a fire protection district is dissolved in accordance with this subsection, the board of supervisors may continue to levy the same millage as was being levied within the boundaries of the fire protection district before its dissolution provided that a fire protection grading district is created, in accordance with Sections 19-5-215 et seq., with identical boundaries as the previously existing fire protection district.
(2) The board of supervisors of the incorporating county, may upon receipt of a unanimous resolution from two (2) or more boards of commissioners of duly created fire protection districts, may consolidate such districts for administrative purposes. Upon receipt of unanimous resolutions requesting consolidation, the board of supervisors shall conduct a public hearing to determine the public's interest. Following such a hearing, the board may create a consolidated commission consisting of the participating districts for administrative purposes. Such districts then shall dissolve their respective boards of commissioners, transferring all records to the consolidated board of commissioners. A consolidated board of commissioners consisting of not less than five (5) members shall be appointed with equal representation from each participating district. Any commissioners appointed to a consolidated fire protection district commission must comply with eligibility requirements as authorized in Section 19-5-171. In the event that a consolidated fire protection district commission consists of an even number of members, the chairman elected as authorized by Section 19-5-169 shall vote only in the event of a tie. General powers and duties of commissioners and commissions and other related matters as defined in Sections 19-5-151 through 19-5-207 shall apply to the entire area contained in the consolidating fire protection districts as described in the resolutions incorporating the fire protection districts as well as to subsequent annexations.
(3) The board of commissioners of a water district or a sewer district incorporated under Sections 19-5-151 through 19-5-207 shall require that deposits paid by a consumer or customer to receive water or sewage services be refunded to the consumer or customer after the consumer or customer has received the services for five (5) years.
SECTION 5. Section 51-8-29, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
51-8-29. Districts created under this chapter shall have the powers set out in the creating resolution not inconsistent with the powers set forth in this chapter, and in addition, the power and authority to acquire, construct, reconstruct, improve, better, extend, consolidate, maintain and operate facilities and to contract with any municipality, person, firm or corporation for services and for a supply and distribution of water, for collection, transportation, treatment and/or disposal of sewage and for services required incident to the operation and maintenance of such systems. Except as provided elsewhere in this chapter, as long as any such district continues to furnish any of the services which it was authorized to furnish in and by the resolution by which it was created, it shall be the sole public corporation empowered to furnish such services within such district.
Any district created pursuant to the provisions of this chapter shall be vested with all the powers necessary and requisite for the accomplishment of the purpose for which such district is created. No enumeration of powers herein shall be construed to impair or limit any general grant of power herein contained nor to limit any such grant to a power or powers of the same class or classes as those enumerated. Such districts are empowered to do all acts necessary, proper or convenient in the exercise of the powers granted under such sections. The board of commissioners of districts created under this chapter shall require that deposits paid by a consumer or customer to receive water or sewage or combination water and sewage services be refunded to the consumer or customer after the consumer or customer has received the services for five (5) years.
SECTION 6. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.