The Transition and Evaluation Committee (the “Committee”) was created by Article 11 of the Annual Town Meeting Warrant of 2019. The Committee shall be composed of five (5) members with three (3) members appointed by the Moderator and two (2) members appointed by the Board of Selectmen. The motion adopted by Town Meeting indicated that the purpose of the Committee was to advise on all water system transition matters and to conduct a study of the governance and operation of the water system. The Committee shall report annually to the Moderator and the Board of Selectmen and shall make a recommendation relating to governance and operations of the water system to the Moderator and the Board of Selectmen at the conclusion of its study. Committee members will be appointed for an initial term of three (3) years and may be reappointed at the discretion of the original appointing authority. Vacancies, if any, shall be filled by the original appointing authority.
To that end, the Board of Selectmen hereby charges the Committee as follows:
I. Ownership and Regulatory Transition Phase (“Transition Phase”). This phase will commence with the formation of the Committee and extend through the later of (i) the closing of the corporate acquisition by the Town of Hingham (the “Town”) of Aquarion assets and operations; (ii) the transfer of the water registration rights associated with Service Area A to the Town; and (iii) the endorsement of Town capacity by the Department of Environmental Protection (‘DEP”). During this phase and in respect of all tasks relating to transition activities, the Committee shall engage in diligence efforts and research projects aimed at facilitating the corporate and regulatory transition of water operations to the Town at the exclusive direction of the Board of Selectmen.
In this phase, it is anticipated that the Committee will progress through activities and assignments including tasks relating to:
A. The transition of the ownership of the water system from Aquarion to the Town;
B. The transfer of water registration rights from Aquarion to the Town pursuant to a process prescribed by the DEP;
C. The development of a regulatory business plan demonstrating “capacity” under safe water drinking standards as required by the DEP;
D. Assisting the Town in the evaluation of potential water system contract operators and Water Superintendent candidates;
E. Assisting the Town in the research and development of water policies and regulations; and
F. The development and management of customer relations and communications policies and practices.
The Board of Selectmen shall provide the Committee with clear direction prior to the Committee engaging in transition activities. The Committee may be asked periodically to provide advice with respect to particular aspects of transition efforts and to make both written and oral reports to the Board of Selectmen as the transition phase progresses. Members of the Committee may be asked to attend internal and external meetings relating to transition at the request of the Board of Selectmen.
II. Governance and Operational Review Phase (“Review Phase”). This phase shall commence at the conclusion of the Transition Phase above and continue on a timeline determined by the Committee in consultation with the Board of Selectmen and the Moderator. At the direction of the Board of Selectmen, within the first twelve (12) months of Town ownership and operation of the water system, the Committee shall assist the Town in commissioning a cost of service study as well as a capital asset study to inform water system planning, budgeting, and operations.
Once the Town has owned and operated the water system for a period of at least twelve (12) months, the Committee shall turn to the task of analyzing the status of the current governance and operational structure of the water system as well as the consideration of alternative structures. The Committee shall develop metrics for the evaluation of both the current structure and alternative structures. These metrics shall be presented to the Board of Selectmen for review and approval. Once the evaluation metrics have been approved, the Committee shall undertake a full review of the pros and cons of the current structure and shall investigate other potential governance and operational structures. The Committee shall update the Board of Selectmen and the Moderator periodically on its progress and shall report to the Board of Selectmen and the Moderator on an annual basis. Ultimately, the Committee shall make one or more recommendations to the Board of Selectmen and the Moderator about the governance and operation of the water system.
III. Modification of Charge or Discharge of the Committee. The charge of the Committee may be modified from time to time by the Board of Selectmen after consultation with the Moderator. Once the Committee has made its recommendations relative to the governance and operation of the water system, the Board of Selectmen, in consultation with the Moderator, may either modify the charge of the Committee to include additional assignments or may recommend discharge of the Committee to Town Meeting.