162A-6. Powers of authority generally.

(a) Each authority created hereunder shall be deemed to be a public instrumentality exercising public and essential governmental functions to provide for the public health and welfare, and each authority is authorized and empowered:

(1) To adopt bylaws for the regulation of its affairs and the conduct of its business;

(2) To adopt an official seal and alter the same at pleasure;

(3) To maintain an office at such place or places as it may designate;

(4) To sue and be sued in its own name, plead and be impleaded;

(5) To acquire, lease as lessee or lessor, construct, reconstruct, improve, extend, enlarge, equip, repair, maintain and operate any water system or part thereof or any sewer system or part thereof or any combination thereof within or without the participating political subdivisions or any thereof;

(6) To issue revenue bonds of the authority as hereinafter provided to pay the cost of such acquisition, construction, reconstruction, improvement, extension, enlargement or equipment;

(7) To issue revenue refunding bonds of the authority as hereinafter provided;

(8) To combine any water system and any sewer system as a single system for the purpose of operation and financing;

(9) To fix and revise from time to time and to collect rates, fees and other charges for the use of or for the services and facilities furnished by any system operated by the authority, including rates for water stored by the authority through programs to store and protect water resources in the region served by the authority. Schedules of rates, fees, and other charges may vary according to classes of service for programs to store and protect water resources. For purposes of this subdivision, "programs to store and protect water resources" includes aquifer or surficial storage.

(9a) To impose and require system development fees only in accordance with Article 8 of this Chapter.

(10) To acquire in the name of the authority by gift, grant, purchase, devise, exchange, lease, acceptance of offers of dedication by plat, or any other lawful method, to the same extent and in the same manner as provided for cities and towns under the provisions of G.S. 160A-240.1 and G.S. 160A-374, or the exercise of the right of eminent domain in accordance with the General Statutes of North Carolina which may be applicable to the exercise of such powers by municipalities or counties, any lands or rights in land or water rights in connection therewith, and to acquire such personal property, as it may deem necessary in connection with the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, improvement, extension, enlargement or operation of any water system or sewer system, and to hold and dispose of all real and personal property under its control; provided, that the taking of water from any stream or reservoir by any authority created under the provisions of this Article shall not vest in the taker any rights by prescription; provided, further, that nothing in this section shall affect rights by prescription, if any, now held by any municipality and which may be later transferred to any authority of which such municipality may become a member;

(11) To make and enter into all contracts and agreements necessary or incidental to the performance of its duties and the execution of its powers under this Article, including a trust agreement or trust agreements securing any revenue bonds issued hereunder, and to employ such consulting and other engineers, superintendents, managers, construction and financial experts, accountants and attorneys, and such employees and agents as may, in the judgment of the authority be deemed necessary, and to fix their compensation; provided, however, that all such expenses shall be payable solely from funds made available under the provisions of this Article;

(12) To enter into contracts with the government of the United States or any agency or instrumentality thereof, or with any political subdivision, private corporation, copartnership, association or individual providing for the acquisition, construction, reconstruction, improvement, extension, enlargement, operation or maintenance of any water system or sewer system or providing for or relating to the treatment and disposal of sewage or providing for or relating to any water system or the purchase or sale of water;

(13) To receive and accept from any federal, State or other public agency and any private agency, person or other entity, donations, loans, grants, aid or contributions of any money, property, labor or other things of value for any sewer system or water system, and to agree to apply and use the same in accordance with the terms and conditions under which the same are provided;

(14) To enter into contract with any political subdivision by which the authority shall assume the payment of the principal of and interest on indebtedness of such subdivision; and

(14a) To make special assessments against benefited property within the area served or to be served by the authority for the purpose of constructing, reconstructing, extending, or otherwise improving water systems or sanitary collection, treatment, and sewage disposal systems, in the same manner that a county may make special assessments under authority of Chapter 153A, Article 9, except that the language appearing in G.S. 153A-185 reading as follows: "A county may not assess property within a city pursuant to subdivision (1) or (2) of this section unless the governing board of the city has by resolution approved the project," shall not apply to assessments levied by Water and Sewer Authorities established pursuant to Chapter 162A, Article 1, of the General Statutes. For the purposes of this paragraph, references in Chapter 153A, Article 9, to the "county," the "board of county commissioners," "the board" or a specific county official or employee are deemed to refer, respectively, to the authority and to the official or employee of the authority who performs most nearly the same duties performed by the specified county official or employee.

Assessment rolls after being confirmed shall be filed for registration in the office of the Register of Deeds of the county in which the property being assessed is located, and the term "county tax collector" wherever used in G.S. 153A-195 and G.S. 153A-196, shall mean the Executive Director or other administrative officer designated by the authority to perform the functions described in said sections of the statute.

(14b) To provide for the defense of civil and criminal actions and payment of civil judgments against employees and officers or former employees and officers and members or former members of the governing body as authorized by G.S. 160A-167, as amended.

(14c) To adopt ordinances concerning any of the following:

a. The regulation and control of the discharge of sewage or stormwater into any sewerage system owned or operated by the authority.

b. The regulation and control of a water system owned or operated by the authority.

c. Stormwater management programs designed to protect water quality by controlling the level of pollutants in and the quantity and flow of stormwater.

d. The regulation and control of structural and natural stormwater and drainage systems of all types.

Prior to the adoption of any such ordinance or any amendment to any such ordinance, the authority shall first pass a declaration of intent to adopt such ordinance or amendment. The declaration of intent shall describe the ordinance which it is proposed that the authority adopt. The declaration of intent shall be submitted to each governing body for review and comment. The authority shall consider any comment or suggestions offered by any governing body with respect to the proposed ordinance or amendment. Thereafter, the authority shall be authorized to adopt such ordinance or amendment to it at any time after 60 days following the submission of the declaration of intent to each governing body.

(14d) To require the owners of developed property on which there are situated one or more residential dwelling units or commercial establishments located within the jurisdiction of the authority and within a reasonable distance of any waterline or sewer collection line owned, leased as lessee, or operated by the authority to connect the property with the waterline, sewer connection line, or both and fix charges for the connections. The power granted by this subdivision may be exercised by an authority only to the extent that the service, whether water, sewer, or a combination thereof, to be provided by the authority is not then being provided to the improved property by any other political subdivision or by a public utility regulated by the North Carolina Utilities Commission pursuant to Chapter 62 of the General Statutes. In the case of improved property that would qualify for the issuance of a building permit for the construction of one or more residential dwelling units or commercial establishments and where the authority has installed water or sewer lines or a combination thereof directly available to the property, the authority may require payment of a periodic availability charge, not to exceed the minimum periodic service charge for properties that are connected. In accordance with G.S. 87-97.1, when developed property is located so as to be served by an authority water line and the property owner has connected to that water line, the property owner may continue to use any private water well located on the property for nonpotable purposes as long as the water well is not interconnected to the sanitary district water line and the sanitary district shall not require the owner of any such water well to abandon, cap, or otherwise compromise the integrity of the water well. This subdivision applies only to a water and sewer authority whose membership includes part or all of a county that has a population of at least 40,000 according to the most recent annual population estimates certified by the State Budget Officer.

(15) To do all acts and things necessary or convenient to carry out the powers granted by this Article.

(16) To purchase real or personal property as provided by G.S. 160A-20, in addition to any other method allowed under this Article.

(17) To enter into reimbursement agreements to be paid by the authority to a private developer or property owner for the design and construction of infrastructure that is included on the authority's capital improvement plan and serves the developer or property owner. An authority shall enact ordinances setting forth procedures and terms under which such agreements may be approved. An authority may provide for such reimbursements to be paid from any lawful source. Reimbursement agreements authorized by this subdivision shall not be subject to Article 8 of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes, except as provided by this subsection. A developer or property owner who is party to a reimbursement agreement authorized under this subdivision shall solicit bids in accordance with Article 8 of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes when awarding contracts for work that would have required competitive bidding if the contract had been awarded by the authority. For the purpose of this subdivision, infrastructure includes, without limitation, water mains, sanitary sewer lines, lift stations, water pump stations, stormwater lines, and other associated facilities.

(18) To offer and pay rewards in an amount not exceeding five thousand dollars ($5,000) for information leading to the arrest and conviction of any person who willfully defaces, damages or destroys, or commits acts of vandalism or larceny of any authority property. The amount necessary to pay said rewards shall be an item in the current expense budget of the authority.

(b) In addition to the powers given under subsection (a) of this section, an authority created under G.S. 162A-3.1 and its participating political subdivisions may enter into agreements obligating these subdivisions to make payments to the authority for treated water delivered or made available or expected to be delivered or made available by the authority, regardless of whether treated water is actually delivered or made available. Such payments may be designed to cover the authority's operating costs (including debt service and related amounts) by allocating those costs among the participating political subdivisions and by requiring these subdivisions to pay additional amounts to make up for the nonpayment of defaulting subdivisions. The participating political subdivisions may agree to budget for and appropriate such payments. Such payment obligations may be made absolute, unconditional, and irrevocable and required to be performed strictly in accordance with the terms of such agreements and without abatement or reduction under all circumstances whatsoever, including whether or not any facility of the authority is completed, operable or operating and, notwithstanding the suspension, interruption, interference, reduction or curtailment of the output of any such facility or the treated water contracted for, and such obligations may be made subject to no reduction, whether by offset or otherwise, and not conditioned upon the performance or nonperformance of the authority or any participating political subdivision under any agreement. Such payment obligations are in consideration of any output or capacity that may at any time be available from facilities of the authority. The participating political subdivisions may agree to make such payments from limited or specified sources. To the extent such payments relate to debt service of the authority and related amounts, they may not be made from any moneys derived from exercise by the participating political subdivisions of their taxing power, and such payment obligations shall not constitute a pledge of such taxing power. The participating political subdivisions may agree (i) not to pledge or encumber any source of payment and (ii) to operate (including fixing rates and charges) in a manner that enables them to make such payments from such sources. The participating political subdivisions may also secure such payment obligations with a pledge of or lien upon any such sources of payment. Notwithstanding the provisions of G.S. 162A-9 or any other law to the contrary, an authority entering into any such agreement need not fix rates, fees and other charges for its services except as provided herein, and such rates, fees and charges need not be uniform through the authority's service areas. Notwithstanding the provisions of G.S. 160A-322 or any other law to the contrary, agreements described herein may have a term not exceeding 50 years. Notwithstanding any law to the contrary, the execution and effectiveness of any agreement authorized hereby shall not be subject to any authorizations or approvals by any entity except the parties thereto. Each authority and its participating political subdivisions shall have the power to do all acts and things necessary or convenient to carry out the powers granted by this subsection.

(c) In addition to the powers given under subsection (a) of this section, an authority that holds a certificate issued after December 1, 1991, by the Environmental Management Commission under G.S. 162A-7 (repealed) may acquire property by the power of eminent domain or by gift, purchase, grant, exchange, lease, or any other lawful method for one or more of the following purposes:

(1) To relocate a road or to construct a road necessitated by construction of water supply project.

(2) To establish, extend, enlarge, or improve storm sewer and drainage systems and works, or sewer and septic tank lines and systems.

(3) To establish drainage programs and programs to prevent obstructions to the natural flow of streams, creeks and natural water channels or to improve drainage facilities. The authority contained in this subdivision is in addition to any authority contained in Chapter 156 of the General Statutes.

(4) To acquire property for wetlands mitigation. (1955, c. 1195, s. 6; 1969, c. 850; 1971, c. 892, s. 1; 1979, c. 804; 1983, c. 525, s. 5; c. 820, s. 1; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 981, s. 2; 1989, c. 517; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 696, s. 8.1; 1995, c. 509, s. 113; c. 511, s. 1; 1997-436, s. 1; 2000-70, s. 6; 2004-203, s. 5(n); 2013-107, s. 1; 2015-207, ss. 1, 2; 2015-246, s. 3.5(h); 2017-138, s. 5(a).)