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2016 SESSION

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SB 329 BVU Authority; alters Board powers and duties, change in membership, conflict of interest policy.

Introduced by: Charles W. Carrico, Sr. | all patrons    ...    notes | add to my profiles

SUMMARY AS PASSED: (all summaries)

BVU Authority; Board powers, officers; broadband; FOIA. Reduces from nine to seven the number of directors on the Board of Directors (the Board) of the BVU Authority (the Authority) and alters the methods of their appointment and their powers and duties. The bill removes the current membership of the Board, comprising six citizens of Bristol, Virginia, two Bristol City Council members, and one member of the Board of Supervisors of Washington County, and institutes in their place a board of seven directors, comprising (i) one citizen of each of the following localities with its appointing authority: the City of Bristol, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates; the City of Bristol, appointed by the Board; Scott County, appointed by the Speaker of the House of Delegates; and Washington County, appointed by the Senate Committee on Rules, and (ii) one member of the governing body of each of the localities of the City of Bristol, the Town of Abingdon, and Washington County, appointed by their respective governing bodies. The citizen of the City of Bristol who is appointed by the Board is required to be engaged in business and may be appointed initially by the Bristol City Council.

Upon the sale of the Authority's broadband service, BVU OptiNet, the bill reduces the Board to five by removing the Abingdon Town Council member and the Scott County citizen.

The bill changes the operation of the Board by altering certain requirements regarding bylaws, eliminating the Board's authority to appoint an attorney, requiring an annual vote to retain independent legal counsel, and barring Board members from receiving financial compensation for service. The bill alters the authority of the Board president by eliminating his power to enter into long-term employment contracts with Authority employees. It also limits a president's term of service to a renewable term of three years and bars any severance agreement for the president amounting to more than one year's base salary. The bill requires that any decision of the Board related to water or sewer systems be made by a majority vote of the three Board members representing the City of Bristol and the Board member representing Washington County.

The bill clarifies that the Authority is prohibited from making charitable donations, contracting with or becoming a wireless service authority, or contracting with a locality to have it acquire property for the Authority by eminent domain. The bill requires the Authority to take certain actions in relation to any economic development project that uses funds allocated under an agreement with the Tennessee Valley Authority.

The bill requires the Board to adopt certain policies related to travel, expenses, and conflict of interests, to file statements of economic interests, and to undergo annual training on conflict of interests law. The bill eliminates several Authority-related records and open meeting exemptions from the Freedom of Information Act.

The bill changes the Authority's broadband-related powers, allowing it to offer and operate broadband and cable television service only in specified areas. The Authority's first broadband priority is to be the construction of wired broadband infrastructure in unserved areas, and its power to apply for grants for broadband projects is defined in conjunction with that priority. Any broadband networks the Authority builds are to be operated on an open-access basis.

The bill directs the Auditor of Public Accounts to examine the accounts of the Authority by July 1, 2016, and contains an emergency clause. This bill is identical to HB 1255.


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