MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

2019 Regular Session

To: Public Utilities

By: Representative White

House Bill 806

AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 49-17-707 THROUGH 49-17-713, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO EXTEND THE DATE OF THE REPEALERS ON THE STATUTES THAT CREATE AND GOVERN THE MISSISSIPPI GULF COAST REGION UTILITY BOARD; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.

     BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

     SECTION 1.  Section 49-17-707, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     49-17-707.  (1)  There is hereby created and established a public body corporate and politic constituting a political subdivision of the State of Mississippi to be known as the "Mississippi Gulf Coast Region Utility Board" to serve the citizens of the Gulf Coast Region.  The utility board is created as a forum for the Gulf Coast Region to collaborate and cooperate regarding water, wastewater and storm water issues; to assist in the efficient management of water, wastewater and storm water resources; to develop recommendations pertaining to water, wastewater and storm water systems; and to provide assistance, funding and guidance to the county authorities to assist in the identification of the best means to meet all present and future water, wastewater and storm water needs in the Gulf Coast Region.

     (2)  This section shall repeal July 1, * * *2019 2022.

     SECTION 2.  Section 49-17-709, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     49-17-709.  (1)  (a)  All powers of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Region Utility Board shall be exercised by a board of directors to be composed of the following:  (i) the president of each county authority; and (ii) three (3) at-large directors, to be appointed by the Governor, who shall be residents of the Gulf Coast Region.

          (b)  The initial terms of the at-large directors shall be for two (2), four (4) and six (6) years as designated by the Governor.  After the expiration of the initial terms, the subsequent terms shall be for a period of six (6) years.  However, there shall be no more than one (1) at-large director appointed from any one (1) county.  Each president may appoint a delegate, to represent him at a meeting of the board.

     (2)  At the initial meeting of the board, the board shall elect a president and a vice president.  Thereafter, the board will annually, at the last meeting of the fiscal year, elect a president and a vice president who shall serve in their respective offices for the next fiscal year.  The directors shall serve without a salary but are entitled to receive per diem pay as provided for in Section 25-3-69, and for actual and necessary expenses incurred while in the performance of his duties as a member of the board as provided in Section 25-3-41.

     (3)  Any utility board member who does not attend three (3) consecutive regular meetings of the authority shall be subject to removal by a majority vote of the board and shall be replaced with an appointment from the Governor or governing body making the initial appointment.

     (4)  The president shall be the chief executive officer of the utility board and the presiding officer of the board, and shall have the same right to vote as any other director.  The vice president shall act in the absence or disability of the president.  Each director shall be required to give bond in the sum of not less than Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00), with sureties qualified to do business in this state, and the premiums on the bond shall be an expense of the utility board.  Each bond shall be payable to the State of Mississippi.  The condition of each bond shall be that each director will faithfully perform all duties of his office and account for all * * * money monies or other assets which shall come into his custody as a director of the utility board.

     (5)  A quorum for any meeting of the board of directors shall be the majority of the total membership of the board of directors.  All business of the utility board shall be transacted by vote of the board of directors.

     (6)  The utility board shall conduct regular meetings as set forth in its bylaws.  The utility board shall establish rules and regulations regarding its meetings and may amend such bylaws, rules and regulations as may be necessary to conduct the business of the board.

     (7)  This section shall repeal July 1, * * *2019 2022.

     SECTION 3.  Section 49-17-711, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     49-17-711.  (1)  The utility board may hire an executive director and secretary-treasurer having the duties as determined by the utility board.  The executive director must have a college degree.  If hired, the executive director and secretary-treasurer each shall be required to give bond in a sum not less than Fifty Thousand Dollars ($50,000.00), conditioned on the executive director and secretary-treasurer faithfully performing all duties of his office and account for all * * *money monies and other assets which come into his custody as executive director or secretary-treasurer of the utility board.

     (2)  (a)  The utility board shall prepare a budget consistent with its bylaws estimating its expenses and revenue needs for each forthcoming fiscal year at least ninety (90) days prior to the beginning of each fiscal year.  The utility board shall submit its budget to each county authority prior to final approval by the utility board.

          (b)  Any funds, gifts or grants allocated for the administrative costs related to the restoration or construction of water, wastewater and storm water services and projects in the Gulf Coast Region under this act shall, to the extent allowable, be paid into the Public Trust Tidelands Fund for the repayment of any tideland funds expended for the operational costs of the utility board.

     (3)  The utility board shall have the authority to receive and spend funds from any source.

     (4)  This section shall repeal July 1, * * *2019 2022.

     SECTION 4.  Section 49-17-713, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:

     49-17-713.  (1)  The utility board shall have the right and powers necessary to carry out the purposes of this act, including, but not limited to:

          (a)  Make recommendations to the county authorities pertaining to water, wastewater and storm water issues in the Gulf Coast Region;

          (b)  Make recommendations necessary to achieve compatibility and uniformity of systems and technology related to water, wastewater and storm water in the Gulf Coast Region;

          (c)  Help resolve cross-jurisdictional and multicounty disputes pertaining to water, wastewater and storm water issues between county authorities when requested by the county authorities;

          (d)  Recommend short-term and long-term priorities for water, wastewater and storm water related projects;

          (e)  Recommend emergency preparedness procedures in the Gulf Coast Region related to water, wastewater and storm water;

          (f)  Recommend training standards related to operations of water, wastewater and storm water systems;

          (g)  Sue and be sued in its own name and to enjoy all the protections, immunities and benefits provided by the Mississippi Tort Claims Act, as it may be amended from time to time;

          (h)  Adopt an official seal and alter the same at pleasure;

          (i)  Maintain office space at such place or places within the boundaries of the board as it may determine;

          (j)  Own or lease real or personal property;

          (k)  Invest money of the utility board, including proceeds from the sale of any bonds subject to any agreements with bond holders on such terms and in such manner as the utility board deems proper;

          (l)  Apply for, accept and utilize grants, gifts and other funds from any source for any purpose necessary in support of the purpose of this act and to coordinate the distribution of funds to the county authorities;

          (m)  Employ and terminate staff, including, but not limited to, attorneys, engineers and consultants as may be necessary;

          (n)  Enter into contracts for all operation and maintenance needs of the utility board;

          (o)  Enter into contracts to conduct studies of regional issues regarding water, wastewater and storm water services and to provide assistance, funds and guidance in the construction, operation and maintenance of regional water, wastewater and storm water services;

          (p)  Enter into contracts with any person or any public agency in furtherance of any of the purposes authorized by this act upon such consideration as the board of directors and such person may agree.  Any such contract may extend over any period of time, including a term which extends beyond the term of the then majority of the existing board members, notwithstanding any provision or rule of law to the contrary; may be upon such terms and for such consideration, nominal or otherwise, as the parties thereto shall agree; and may provide that it shall continue in effect until bonds specified therein, refunding bonds issued in lieu of such bonds, and all other obligations specified therein are paid or terminated.  Any such contract shall be binding upon the parties thereto according to its terms.  The utility board may also assume or continue any contractual or other business relationships entered into by the members of the utility board, including the rights to receive and acquire property transferred under option to purchase agreements;

          (q)  Contract with the authorities under any terms mutually agreed by the parties to carry out any powers, duties or responsibilities granted by this act or any other laws to the authorities;

          (r)  Acquire insurance for the utility board's systems, facilities, buildings, treatment plants and all property, real or personal, to insure against all risks as any insurance may, from time to time, be available;

          (s)  Make, enforce, amend and repeal rules and regulations for the management of the utility board's business and affairs;

          (t)  Enter onto public or private lands, waters or premises for the purposes of making surveys, borings or soundings, or conducting tests, examinations or inspections for the purposes of the utility board, subject to responsibility for any damage done to property entered;

          (u)  Apply, contract for, accept, receive and administer gifts, grants, appropriations and donations of money, materials, and property of any kind, including loans and grants from the United States, the state, a unit of local government, or any agency, department, district or instrumentality of any of the foregoing, upon any terms and conditions as the United States, the state, a unit of local government, or any agency, department, district or instrumentality shall impose;

          (v)  Create, maintain and regulate reservoirs and promulgate and enforce rules and regulations for the creation and maintenance of reservoirs; and

          (w)  Make other recommendations to carry out the purposes of this act.

     (2)  This section shall repeal July 1, * * *2019 2022.

     SECTION 5.  This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2019.