General Laws of Massachusetts - Chapter 44 Municipal Finance - Section 53E3/4 Energy Revolving Loan Fund

Section 53E3/4. (a) Notwithstanding section 53 to the contrary, a city or town may establish an Energy Revolving Loan Fund to provide loans to owners of privately-held real property in the city or town for energy conservation and renewable energy projects on their properties so as to prioritize energy efficiency as the first step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions associated with buildings.

(b) The fund shall be established by ordinance or by-law. Before adoption of the ordinance or by-law, the board of selectmen, town council or the city council, as the case may be, shall conduct a public hearing on the question of its adoption. The ordinance or by-law shall designate an administrator for the fund and may provide for rules, regulations and procedures for administration of the fund and eligibility for loans the city or town considers necessary or proper to carry out this section. The administrator may consult with the division of green communities established in section 10 of chapter 25A in developing such regulations, rules and procedures for administration of the fund. The fund administrator may be a board, department or officer, or may consist of 1 or more members from 1 or more boards, departments or officers, of the city or town. A city or town which is a member of a regional planning commission may enter into a cooperative agreement with that commission to perform as administrator for the fund. A regional governmental entity or county, if the county may incur debt under chapter 35 or any other general or special law extending a county’s debt limit, may establish a fund subject to this section and may appoint a person to be the administrator of the fund.

(c) As authorized by section 4A of chapter 40, 2 or more municipalities may, in a city by vote of the city council, or, in a town by vote of the board of selectmen, enter into an agreement to jointly establish and administer a common fund.

(d) The fund administrator shall have the following powers and duties:

(1) to make loans to owners of real property to finance or refinance the costs of energy conservation and renewable energy projects on their properties; provided, however, that no loan shall be made unless an energy audit of the property has been conducted on or after July 2, 2008, and any energy conservation measures established by the fund administrator for participation in the program have been implemented;

(2) to execute and deliver on behalf of the city or town all loan agreements and other instruments necessary or proper to make the loan and secure its repayment;

(3) to record the notice of the agreement required by subsection (f) and any other loan instruments;

(4) to apply for and accept grants or gifts for purposes of the fund; and

(5) to exercise any other powers or perform any other duties that the city or town may grant by ordinance or by-law to carry out this section.

(e) The city or town treasurer shall be the custodian of the fund, which shall be maintained as a separate account and into which shall be deposited:

(1) all monies appropriated and all proceeds from bonds issued under clause (3C) of the first paragraph of section 7 for purpose of providing loans to private property owners for energy conservation and renewable energy projects;

(2) all funds received from the commonwealth or any other source for those purposes;

(3) all repayments of the loans made by property owners under this section and any reserve or other required payments made by the owners in connection with the loans; and

(4) any other amounts required to be credited to the fund by any law.

The city or town treasurer may invest the monies in the manner authorized in section 55 and any interest earned thereon shall be credited to and become part of the fund.

The city or town treasurer shall annually certify, not later than June 30, in writing to the fund administrator and auditor or similar officer in cities or the town accountant in towns having a town accountant, the principal and interest due in the next fiscal year on any bonds issued under clause (3C) of the first paragraph of section 7 and not otherwise provided for, and the amount certified shall be reserved for payment of that debt service without further appropriation. Loans may be made from the fund by the fund administrator without further appropriation, subject to this section; provided, however, that no loans shall be made or liabilities incurred in excess of the unreserved fund balance and unless approved in accordance with sections 52 and 56 of chapter 41.

(f) Whenever a city or town enters into a loan agreement with a property owner under this section, a notice of the agreement shall be recorded as a betterment and shall be subject to chapter 80 relative to the apportionment, division, reassessment and collection of assessment, abatement and collections of assessments, and to interest; provided, however, that for purposes of this section, the lien shall take effect by operation of law on the day immediately following the due date of the assessment or apportioned part of the assessment and the assessment may bear interest at a rate determined by the city or town treasurer by agreement with the owner at the time the agreement is entered into between the city or town and the property owner. In addition to remedies available under said chapter 80, the property owner shall be personally liable for the repayment of the total costs incurred by the city or town under this section; provided, however, that upon assumption of the personal obligation by a purchaser or other transferee of all of the original owner’s interest in the property at the time of conveyance and the recording of the assumption, the owner shall be relieved of the personal liability.

A betterment loan agreement between an owner and a city or town under this section shall not be considered a breach of limitation or prohibition contained in a note, mortgage or contract on the transfer of an interest in property.

Notwithstanding any provision of chapter 183A to the contrary, the organization of unit owners of a condominium may enter into a betterment loan agreement under this section to finance an energy conservation and renewable energy project, provided that the project comprises part of the common areas and facilities; provided, however, that section 18 of said chapter 183A shall not apply to any improvements undertaken pursuant to an agreement entered into under this section. Such agreement shall: (i) be approved by a majority of the unit owners benefited by the project; (ii) include an identification of the units and unit owners subject to the agreement and the percentages, as set forth in the master deed, of the undivided interests of the respective units in the common area and facilities; and (iii) include a statement by an officer or trustee of the organization of unit owners certifying that the required number of unit owners have approved the agreement. As between the affected unit owners and the city or town, the certification shall be conclusive evidence of the authority of the organization of unit owners to enter into the agreement. A notice of the agreement shall be recorded as a betterment in the registry of deeds or registry district of the land court wherein the master deed is recorded and shall be otherwise subject to chapter 80 as provided in this section. The assessment under the agreement shall be charged or assessed directly to the benefited unit owners and if unpaid shall be added to the annual tax bill for their units in accordance with section 13 of said chapter 80. The allocable share of the assessment, prorated on the basis of the percentage interests of the benefited units in the common areas and facilities, shall attach as a lien only to the units identified in the recorded notice and benefited by the project and the owners of those units shall also be personally liable for their allocable share of the assessment as provided for in this section. For the purposes of this paragraph, the terms “common areas and facilities”, “common expenses”, “condominium”, “master deed”, “organization of unit owners”, “units” and “unit owners” shall have the same meanings as ascribed to them in section 1 of said chapter 183A.

(g) The fund administrator shall file annually, not later than June 30, a report detailing the amount of money in the fund, loans made and repayments received, and shall also include the types of projects financed. The report shall be filed with the chief executive officer of the city or town, the executive office of administration and finance, the joint committee on municipalities and regional government, the senate and house committees on ways and means and the clerks of the senate and the house of representatives.

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Last modified: September 11, 2015