1998 Regular Session
To: Local and Private Legislation; Ways and Means
By: Representatives Henderson (9th), Miller
House Bill 1857
AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE TUNICA COUNTY, MISSISSIPPI, OR ANY PORTION OF TUNICA COUNTY TO BE INCORPORATED AS A CONSERVATION DISTRICT; TO PROVIDE FOR THE MANNER IN WHICH SUCH DISTRICTS MAY BE CREATED; TO PROVIDE FOR A BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS TO EXERCISE THE POWERS OF ANY CONSERVATION DISTRICT SO CREATED; TO PROVIDE FOR THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE OFFICERS OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS; TO PROVIDE THE MANNER IN WHICH THE DISTRICT MAY ENTER INTO CONSTRUCTION CONTRACTS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. All of Tunica County, Mississippi, or any portion thereof, may be incorporated as a conservation district ("district") in the manner set forth in this act.
SECTION 2. (1) A petition for the incorporation of a conservation district may be submitted to the Board of Supervisors of Tunica County, Mississippi ("board of supervisors"), signed by not less than fifteen (15) owners of real property within Tunica County who also reside within the proposed district. Such petition shall include:
(a) A statement of the necessity for the service or services to be supplied by the proposed district;
(b) The proposed boundaries of the district, if less than all of Tunica County;
(c) An estimate of the cost of the acquisition or construction of the facilities and other projects to be constructed, operated and maintained by the district or through the district. This estimate shall not serve as a limitation upon the actual costs of the projects or the facilities or the operation and maintenance of the same or the financing of the improvements or extensions to the facilities or projects.
The petition shall contain the resident address of each person who signed the petition. The petition shall be accompanied by a sworn statement of each person circulating the petition, stating under oath, that he witnessed the signature of each person who signed the petition, that each signature is the signature of the person that it purports to be, and that, to the best of his knowledge, each person who signed the petition was, at the time of signing, an owner of real property within, and a resident of, the proposed district.
(2) The board of supervisors may, in its discretion, initiate the incorporation of a district under this section, without a petition being submitted to them, by adopting a resolution declaring the board's intent and setting forth in the resolution of intent the following:
(a) A statement for the necessity of the service or services to be supplied by the district;
(b) The proposed boundaries of the district, if less than all of Tunica County;
(c) An estimate of the cost of the acquisition or construction of the facilities and other projects to be constructed, operated and maintained by the district. The estimate shall not serve as a limitation upon the actual costs of the projects or the facilities or the operation and maintenance of the same, or the financing of improvements or extensions to the facilities or projects.
SECTION 3. (1) Upon the filing of a petition or upon the adoption of a resolution declaring the intent of the board of supervisors to incorporate such district without the filing of a petition, the board of supervisors shall fix a date, time and place for a public hearing to hear comments on whether the public convenience and necessity require the incorporation of the proposed district. The date fixed for such hearing shall be not more than thirty (30) days after the filing of the petition or the adoption of the resolution of intent of the board of supervisors. The date of the hearing, the place where it shall be held, the proposed boundaries of the district, and the purpose of the hearing shall be set forth in a notice. The notice shall be signed by the clerk of the board of supervisors. The notice shall be published in a newspaper having general circulation within Tunica County once a week for at least three (3) consecutive weeks before the date of the hearing. The first publication shall be made not less than twenty-one (21) days before the date of such hearing and the last publication shall be made not more than fourteen (14) days before the date of such hearing.
(2) If, after such public hearing, the board of supervisors finds that public convenience and necessity require the creation of the district, and that the creation of the district is economically sound and desirable, then the board of supervisors shall adopt a resolution making those findings and declaring its intention to create the district on a date to be specified in the resolution. Such resolution shall also designate the name of the proposed district and define its territorial boundaries, which shall be fixed by the board after consideration of matters presented at such hearing.
SECTION 4. A certified copy of the resolution adopted pursuant to Section 3(2) of this act, shall be published in a newspaper having general circulation in Tunica County, once a week for at least three (3) consecutive weeks before the date specified in the resolution as the date upon which the board of supervisors intends to create such district. The first such publication shall be made not less than twenty-one (21) days before the date specified, and the last such publication shall be made not more than fourteen (14) days before such date.
If twenty percent (20%) or one hundred fifty (150), whichever is less, of the qualified electors of such proposed district file a written petition with the board of supervisors on or before the date specified in the resolution as the date on which the district will be created, protesting the creation of the district, the board of supervisors shall call an election on the question of the creation of such district. Such election shall be held and conducted by the election commissioners of Tunica County, as nearly as may be done in accordance with the laws governing county elections. The election commissioners shall determine which of the qualified electors of Tunica County reside in the proposed district and only the qualified electors residing within such proposed district shall be entitled to vote in such election. Notice of the election setting forth the time, place or places and purpose of such election shall be published by the clerk of the board of supervisors. The notice shall be published for the time and in the manner described in Section 3(1) of this act for the publication of the notice of the public hearing.
The ballot to be prepared for and used in such election shall be in substantially the following form:
FOR THE CREATION OF THE (Insert name) CONSERVATION DISTRICT: (_________)
AGAINST CREATION OF THE (Insert name) CONSERVATION DISTRICT: (_________)
Voters shall vote by placing a cross mark (X) or check mark (%) opposite their choice.
SECTION 5. If no petition requiring an election is filed, or if three-fifths (3/5) of those voting in the election provided for it by Section 4 of this act vote in favor of such district, the board of supervisors shall adopt a resolution creating the district as described in the resolution provided for in Section 3(2) of this act.
SECTION 6. If the board of supervisors initiates the creation of the district, all cost incident to the publication of notices, the public hearing, an election (if called), the preparation of the resolutions, and all other costs associated with the board meeting the requirements of this act, may be paid by the board of supervisors, in its discretion, from any available county fund, or shall be borne by the parties filing the petition. The Board of Supervisors of Tunica County, in its discretion, may require the execution of a cost bond by parties filing a petition for the creation of a district. Such bond shall be in an amount and with good surety to guarantee the payment of such costs.
SECTION 7. Any party having any interest in the subject matter who is aggrieved or prejudiced by the findings and adjudication of the board of supervisors may appeal to the Circuit Court of Tunica County in the manner provided by law for appeals from orders by the board of supervisors. However, if no such appeal is taken within a period of fifteen (15) days from the date of the adoption of the resolution creating a conservation district, the creation of the district shall be final and conclusive and shall not thereafter be subject to attack in any court.
SECTION 8. From and after the date of the adoption of the resolution creating the district, such district, upon the election of the board of supervisors, may be a public corporation in perpetuity under its corporate name and, in that name, shall be a body politic and corporate with powers of perpetual secession.
SECTION 9. (1) The powers of a district created pursuant to this act shall be vested and exercised by a board of commissioners consisting of five (5) members.
The members of the board of commissioners shall be appointed as follows:
(a) The Board of Supervisors of Tunica County, Mississippi, shall appoint one (1) member;
(b) The Board of Commissioners of the Lake Cormorant Drainage District of Tunica and DeSoto Counties shall appoint one (1) member;
(c) The Board of Commissioners of the Indian Creek Drainage District shall appoint one (1) member;
(d) The Buck Island Bayou Drainage District shall appoint one (1) member; and
(e) The Board of Commissioners of the Ark Bayou Drainage District shall appoint one (1) member.
All of the members of the board of commissioners shall be qualified electors of Tunica County, at least twenty-five (25) years of age and of sound mind and judgment. The term of office of each appointee shall be five (5) years or until their successor is appointed and qualified. Any vacancy occurring on the board of commissioners shall be filled in the manner as provided for by the original appointment.
(2) The board of commissioners shall have complete and sole authority to appoint a chairman and a vice chairman and any other officers that it may deem necessary from the membership of the board of commissioners. It shall be the duty of the chairman to preside at all meetings of the board and to act as the chief executive officer of the board of commissioners and of the district. The vice chairman shall act in the absence or disability of the chairman. The board of commissioners shall elect and fix the compensation of a secretary-treasurer who may or may not be a member of the board of commissioners. It shall be the duty of the secretary-treasurer to keep all minutes and records of the board of commissioners and to safely keep all funds of the district. The secretary-treasurer shall be required to execute a bond, payable to the district, in a sum and with such security as shall be approved and fixed by the board of commissioners. The bond shall be filed with the Chancery Clerk of Tunica County.
(3) The operation, management, abolition or dissolution of the district, and all other matters in connection therewith, shall be vested solely and only in the board of commissioners except as provided for herein.
The abolition, dissolution or termination of such district shall be accomplished only by resolution of the board of commissioners, such resolution shall receive at least a four-fifths (4/5) vote of the entire membership of the board in order to be adopted. Except as otherwise provided in this act, the board of commissioners shall not have the power, jurisdiction or authority to abolish, dissolve or terminate the district while the district has any outstanding indebtedness.
(4) Each person appointed as a commissioner, before entering upon the discharge of the duties of his office, shall be required to execute a bond payable to the State of Mississippi in the penal sum of Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) conditioned that he will faithfully discharge the duties of his office. Each bond shall be approved by the Chancery Clerk of Tunica County and filed with such clerk.
(5) Each commissioner shall take and subscribe to an oath of office as prescribed in Section 268, Mississippi Constitution of 1890, before the Chancery Clerk of Tunica County, that he will faithfully discharge the duties of the office of commissioner. The oath shall be filed with the Chancery Clerk of Tunica County and by him preserved with such official bond.
(6) A majority of the membership of the board of commissioners shall constitute a quorum. Except as otherwise required under this act, all official acts of the board of commissioners shall require a majority vote of the quorum.
(7) The board of commissioners shall have authority to employ such employees, experts and consultants and other professional persons as it may deem necessary to assist the board of commissioners in the discharge of its responsibilities to the extent that funds are made available.
(8) The board of commissioners may receive per diem compensation, if approved by the board of supervisors, in the same amounts authorized for officers and employees of state agencies, boards, commissions, departments and institutions in Section 25-3-69, Mississippi Code of 1972. However, no board member shall receive per diem compensation in excess of Two Hundred Dollars ($200.00) per month. The compensation of board members shall not entitle any member of the board of commissioners to receive or be eligible for any state employee group insurance, retirement or other fringe benefits.
SECTION 10. Any district created pursuant to this act may be created for the purpose of establishing a water supply system, conserving water resources, developing additional water resources, flood prevention and drainage, including recreational resources or any other water or waste water management function; provided, however, that prior to performing any of these functions, the plan to implement such management functions shall be approved by, and jointly developed with, the Yazoo-Mississippi Joint Water Management District. Notwithstanding any of the powers herein granted or the purpose for which any district may be created, any district created pursuant to this act shall not be created for the purpose of constructing, contracting for the construction of, or serving as a local sponsor for the construction of any dam or other flood control facility or project, the primary purpose of which is to control flooding on the main stream of (by improvement or work to the main stream) the Pearl River, Mississippi River, Yazoo River, Tombigbee River, Big Black River, Pascagoula River, Tallahatchie River, Yalobusha River, Homochito River, Buffalo River, Leaf River, Coldwater River, Sunflower River, Little Sunflower River, Wolf River, Yockanookany River, Ofahoma River, Strong River, Bogue Chitto River, Amite River, Bayou Pierre, Tangipahoa River, Noxubee River, Butthatchee River, Chunky River, Biloxi River, Tippah River, Hatchie River, Jourdan River, Bowie River, Chickasawhay River and Escatawpa River.
SECTION 11. Any district created under this act shall have the powers enumerated in the resolution of the board of supervisors creating such district. To carry out such purpose or purposes, such district, shall have the power and authority to acquire, construct, reconstruct, improve, better, extend, consolidate, maintain and operate such system or systems and to contract with any municipality, county or other governmental entity, or with any person, firm or corporation for such services and for services required incident to the operation and maintenance of such system.
Any district created pursuant to this act 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, or 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, to the exercise of the powers granted under this act.
SECTION 12. Any district created pursuant to this act, acting by and through the board of commissioners of the district as its governing authority, shall have the following powers:
(a) To sue and be sued;
(b) To acquire by purchase, gift, devise and lease, or any other mode of acquisition, and to hold and dispose of, real and personal property of every kind within or without the district;
(c) To make and enter into contracts, conveyances, deeds of trust, bonds, leases or contracts for financial advisory services;
(d) To incur debts, to borrow money, and to provide for the rights of the holders thereof;
(e) To use any right-of-way, public right-of-way, easement, or other similar property or property rights, necessary or convenient in connection with the acquisition, improvement or maintenance of the facilities of the district held by the state, or any political subdivision thereof; however, the governing body of such political subdivisions shall consent to such use;
(f) To enter into agreement with state and federal agencies for loans, grants and aid, and other forms of assistance, and to enter into agreements with state agencies, federal agencies and political subdivisions of the State of Mississippi pertaining to matters relating to the operation of any services of the district authorized under this act, and such state agencies and political subdivisions of the State of Mississippi are authorized to enter into such contracts with any conservation district created pursuant to this act;
(g) To be deemed to have the same status as counties and municipalities with respect to payment of sales taxes on purchases made by such district;
(h) To contract with any municipality in the county or the county for the operation, maintenance and extension of any portion of the system or systems or storm drainage systems in the district by the municipality or county, upon those terms, conditions and covenants that may be agreed upon between the municipality or the county and the district; and
(i) To contract with any person, partnership, corporation or other entity for the operation and maintenance of any property or facilities of the district, upon such terms, conditions and covenants as may be agreed upon by such contracting parties. The board of commissioners may contract for the operation and maintenance of any property or facilities of the district for a term of up to ten (10) years.
SECTION 13. The board of supervisors, upon petition by the board of commissioners of the district, may exercise the power of eminent domain on behalf of the district wherever and whenever public necessity and convenience so requires.
SECTION 14. All construction contracts by the district where the amount of the contract shall exceed Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) shall be made upon at least three (3) weeks' public notice. Such notice shall be published once a week for at least three (3) consecutive weeks in at least one (1) newspaper having general circulation in Tunica County. The first publication of such notice shall be made not less than twenty-one (21) days before the date fixed in the notice for the receipt of bids, and the last publication shall be made not more than fourteen (14) days before such date. The notice shall state the construction project to be done and invite sealed proposals to be filed with the secretary of the district to do the work. In all such cases, before the notice is published, plans and specifications for the work shall be prepared by a registered professional engineer and filed with the secretary of the district and remain therein. The board of commissioners of the district shall award the contract to the lowest and best bidder who will comply with the terms imposed by the board of commissioners and enter into bond with sufficient sureties to be approved by the board of commissioners and such penalty as shall be fixed by the board of commissioners; however, in no case shall such bond be less than the contract price, and the bond shall be conditioned for the prompt, proper, efficient performance of the contract. Contracts of less than Ten Thousand Dollars ($10,000.00) may be negotiated; however, the board of commissioners shall invite and receive written proposals for the work from at least two (2) contractors regularly engaged in the type of work involved.
SECTION 15. The board of commissioners of any district created pursuant to this act shall have the authority to enter into cooperative agreements with the state or federal government, or both, to obtain financial assistance in the form of loans or grants as may be available from the state or federal government, or both, and to execute and deliver at private sale notes or bonds as evidence of such indebtedness in the form and subject to the terms and conditions as may be imposed by the state or federal government, or both, and to pledge the income and revenues of the district, or the income and revenues from any part of the area embraced in the district, in payment thereof. It is the purpose and intent of this section to authorize the district to do any and all things necessary to secure the financial aid or cooperation of the state, federal government, or other public entity, in the planning, construction, maintenance or operation of project facilities.
SECTION 16. This act, without reference to any statute, shall be deemed to be full and complete authority for the creation of the district. No proceedings shall be required for the creation of the district other than those provided for and required herein. All necessary powers to be exercised by the board of supervisors and by the board of commissioners of the district in order to carry out the provisions of this act are hereby conferred.
SECTION 17. Within one hundred twenty (120) days after the close of each fiscal year the board of commissioners shall publish in a newspaper of general circulation in Tunica County a sworn statement showing the financial condition of the district. Such statement shall also be furnished to the board of supervisors.
SECTION 18. The board of supervisors is authorized, in its discretion, to appropriate, from any available county funds, funds to any district created pursuant to this act. The board of commissioners is authorized to receive any funds appropriated to the district by the board of supervisors.
SECTION 19. This act shall be liberally construed for the purposes herein set forth, the powers hereby granted being additional, cumulative and supplemental to any power granted to Tunica County or any municipality or district therein by any general or local and private act of the Legislature.
SECTION 20. The Board of Supervisors of Tunica County, Mississippi, shall submit this act, immediately upon approval by the Governor, or upon approval by the Legislature subsequent to a veto, to the Attorney General of the United States or to the United States District Court for the District of Columbia in accordance with the provisions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.
SECTION 21. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after the date it is effectuated under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, as amended and extended.