159B-43. Joint municipal assistance agencies authorized.

(a) Any two or more joint agencies, or any two or more municipalities, may organize a joint municipal assistance agency, which shall be a public body and body corporate and politic. Any joint agency or municipality is hereby authorized to become a member of any such joint municipal assistance agency upon a determination, by resolution or ordinance of its governing board, that economies, efficiencies and other benefits might be achieved from participation in such an agency.

The resolution or ordinance determining it desirable for a joint agency or municipality to become a member of a joint municipal assistance agency (which need not prescribe in detail the basis for the determination) shall set forth the names of the joint agencies or municipalities which are proposed to be initial members of the joint municipal assistance agency. The governing board of the joint agency or municipality shall thereupon by ordinance or resolution appoint one commissioner and up to two alternate commissioners of the joint municipal assistance agency who may, at the discretion of the governing board, be an officer or employee of the joint agency or municipality. If two alternate commissioners are appointed, the governing board shall designate them as first or second alternate commissioner.

Any two or more commissioners so named may file with the Secretary of State an application signed by them setting forth (i) the names of all the proposed member joint agencies or municipalities; (ii) the name and official residence of each of the commissioners so far as known to them; (iii) a certified copy of the appointment evidencing their right to office; (iv) a statement that each governing board of each respective joint agency or municipality appointing a commissioner has made the aforesaid determination; (v) the desire that a joint municipal assistance agency be organized as a public body and a body corporate and politic under this Chapter; and (vi) the name which is proposed for the joint municipal assistance agency.

The application shall be subscribed and sworn to by such commissioners before an officer or officers authorized by the laws of the State to administer and certify oaths.

The Secretary of State shall examine the application and, if he finds that the name proposed for the joint municipal assistance agency is not identical with that of any other corporation of this State or of any agency or instrumentality thereof, or so nearly similar as to lead to confusion and uncertainty, he shall receive and file it and shall record it in an appropriate book of record in his office.

When the application has been made, filed and recorded as herein provided, the joint municipal assistance agency shall constitute a public body and a body corporate and politic under the name proposed in the application. The Secretary of State shall make and issue to the commissioners executing the application a certificate of incorporation pursuant to this Chapter under the seal of the State, and shall record the same with the application. The certificate shall set forth the names of the member municipalities.

In any suit, action or proceeding involving the validity or enforcement of, or relating to, any contract of the joint municipal assistance agency, the joint municipal assistance agency, in the absence of establishing fraud in the premises, shall be conclusively deemed to have been established in accordance with the provisions of this Chapter upon proof of the issuance of the aforesaid certificate by the Secretary of State. A copy of such certificate or of any new or supplemental certificate hereinafter provided for, duly certified by the Secretary of State, shall be admissible in evidence in any suit, action or proceeding, and shall be conclusive proof of the filing and contents thereof.

Notice of the issuance of such certificate shall be given to all of the proposed member joint agencies or municipalities by the Secretary of State. If a commissioner of any such joint agency or municipality has not signed the application to the Secretary of State and such joint agency or municipality does not notify the Secretary of State of the appointment of a commissioner within 60 days after receipt of such notice, such joint agency or municipality shall be deemed to have elected not to be a member of the joint municipal assistance agency. As soon as practicable after the expiration of such 60-day period, the Secretary of State shall issue a new certificate of incorporation, if necessary, setting forth the names of those joint agencies or municipalities which have elected to become members of the joint municipal assistance agency. The failure of any proposed member to become a member shall not affect the validity of the corporate existence of the joint municipal assistance agency.

(b) After the creation of a joint municipal assistance agency, any other joint agency (if organized by joint agencies) or municipality (if organized by municipalities) may become a member thereof upon application to such joint municipal assistance agency after the adoption of a resolution or ordinance by the governing board of the joint agency or municipality setting forth the determination and finding prescribed above for the original members and authorizing said municipality to become a member and appointing one commissioner, and with the consent of a majority of the board of commissioners of the joint municipal assistance agency. Any joint agency or municipality may withdraw from a joint municipal assistance agency, provided, however, that all obligations incurred by a joint agency or municipality while it was a member shall remain in full force and effect. Notice that a joint agency or municipality has been added to or withdrawn from membership in the joint municipal assistance agency shall be filed with the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of State shall thereupon issue a new or supplemental certificate of incorporation setting forth the names of all members of the joint municipal assistance agency. Additions of new members or withdrawal of members shall not affect the validity of the corporate existence of the joint municipal assistance agency.

(c) The joint municipal assistance agency may be governed by a board of commissioners appointed as provided in subsections (a) and (b) of this section. It shall not be necessary to notify the Secretary of State of the appointment of any commissioners following the notifications referred to in subsections (a) and (b) of this section. Each commissioner shall have one vote and shall serve at the pleasure of the governing board by which he was appointed. Each appointed commissioner before entering upon his duties shall take and subscribe to an oath before some person authorized by law to administer oaths to execute the duties of his office faithfully and impartially, and a record of each such oath shall be filed with the governing board of the appointing joint agency or municipality and spread upon its minutes. The governing board of each of the joint agencies or municipalities may appoint up to two alternate commissioners to act in lieu of its appointed commissioner when the appointed commissioner is unable for any reason to attend meetings of the board of commissioners or any committee thereof, and the governing board shall designate them as first or second alternate commissioner. Each alternate commissioner shall serve at the pleasure of the governing board by which he is appointed and shall take, subscribe to and file an oath in the same manner as prescribed for regularly appointed commissioners. Such alternate commissioner when acting in lieu of the regularly appointed commissioner shall be deemed to be the commissioner representing such joint agency or municipality, and shall have the rights, powers and authority of the regularly appointed commissioner, other than such commissioner's position as an officer, director or member of the executive committee. A certificate entered into the minutes of the board of commissioners of a joint agency by the clerk or other custodian of the minutes and records of the governing body of a municipality, appointing commissioners and alternate commissioners and reciting their appointments, shall constitute conclusive evidence of their appointment. All powers, functions, rights and privileges of the joint municipal assistance agency shall be exercised or delegated by the board of commissioners.

(d) The board of commissioners of the joint municipal assistance agency shall annually elect one of the commissioners as president, another as vice president, and another person or persons, who may but need not be commissioners, as treasurer, secretary, and, if desired, assistant secretary or secretaries and assistant treasurer. The office of treasurer or assistant treasurer may be held by the secretary or any assistant secretary. The board of commissioners may also appoint and prescribe the duties of such additional officers as it deems necessary. The secretary or any assistant secretary of the joint municipal assistance agency shall keep a record of the proceedings of the joint municipal assistance agency, and the secretary shall be the custodian of all records, books, documents and papers filed with the joint municipal assistance agency, the minute book or journal of the joint municipal assistance agency and its official seal. Either the secretary or any assistant secretary of the joint municipal assistance agency may cause copies to be made of all minutes and other records and documents of the joint municipal assistance agency and may give certificates under the official seal of the joint municipal assistance agency to the effect that such copies are true copies, and all persons dealing with the joint municipal assistance agency may rely upon such certificates.

(e) Fifty-one percent (51%) of the commissioners of a joint municipal assistance agency then in office shall constitute a quorum, and the commissioners may by written consent executed before or after any meeting waive notice and all other formalities incident to the calling or conduct of the same. Meetings of the commissioners may be held at any place within the State or any state contiguous to the State. A vacancy in the board of commissioners of the joint municipal assistance agency shall not impair the right of a quorum to exercise all the rights and perform all the duties of the joint municipal assistance agency. Any action taken by the joint municipal assistance agency under the provisions of this Chapter may be authorized by resolution at any regular or special meeting, and each such resolution may take effect immediately and need not be published or posted. Except as specifically provided by the bylaws, a majority of the votes of the commissioners present shall be necessary and sufficient to take any action or to pass any resolution.

(f) The board of commissioners of the joint municipal assistance agency may, in its bylaws, provide for a board of directors of the joint municipal assistance agency to be selected from the commissioners and alternate commissioners. The board of directors shall have and exercise such of the powers and authority of the board of commissioners during the intervals between the board of commissioners' meetings as shall be prescribed in the bylaws, rules, motions and resolutions of the board of commissioners. The terms of office of the members of the board of directors and the method of filling vacancies therein shall be fixed by the bylaws of the board of commissioners of the joint municipal assistance agency. The bylaws of the joint municipal assistance agency shall provide that the officers of the board of commissioners elected pursuant to subsection (d) of this section must also serve on the board of directors and hold the same offices thereon.

(g) The board of commissioners may also provide, in its bylaws or otherwise, that the board of directors shall create an executive committee of the board of directors composed of the officers of the board of directors, together with such other members of the board of directors as may be prescribed and that such executive committee shall have and shall exercise such of the powers and authority of the board of directors during the intervals between that board's meetings as shall be prescribed in the bylaws of the joint municipal assistance agency or in the rules or resolutions of the board of directors.

(h) The board of commissioners, board of directors and executive committee may provide or adopt methods and procedures consistent with other applicable laws for the calling or conducting of meetings or the taking of any action.

(i) No commissioner or director of a joint municipal assistance agency shall receive any compensation for the performance of his or her duties hereunder, provided, however, that each commissioner and director may be paid his or her necessary expenses incurred while engaged in the performance of such duties. (1983, c. 609, s. 7; 1985, c. 243, ss. 2, 3; 1995, c. 412, s. 22.)