9-122. Unification of a city and a town

A. If the common council of a city and the common council of a town whose boundaries are within five miles of each other at one or more points pass a resolution requesting an election for the purpose of unifying the city and the town into one incorporated city, and a petition is received from the unincorporated areas that separate the city or town boundaries or are contiguous to the boundaries and is signed by at least ten per cent of the qualified electors in such unincorporated area, within sixty days, the board of supervisors of the county shall adopt a resolution calling an election on the question of the unification and the question of the name of the new proposed city.  The election shall be held on a date prescribed by section 16-204 but not more than one hundred eighty days after the county resolution is filed.  The resolution shall set forth the following:

1. The date on which the election is to be held.

2. The places where votes may be cast.  At least one place shall be designated within the corporate limits of the city and the town and the unincorporated area proposing the unification.

3. The hours between which the polling places will be open.

4. The name of the proposed unified city.

B. The election resolution shall be published in full at least once, not less than thirty nor more than sixty days before the date of the election, in a newspaper published in the county.  If there is no such newspaper, the resolution shall be posted in five conspicuous places in each of the municipalities and the affected unincorporated areas not less than thirty nor more than sixty days before the date of the election.

C. At the election, the ballot shall contain and may be limited to the phrases "for the unification" and "against the unification".  A square approximately the size of the squares placed opposite the names of candidates on ballots shall be placed to the right of and opposite each phrase.  A voter shall indicate a vote for the unification or against the unification by marking the ballot pursuant to the ballot instructions.  The ballot is not required to be any particular size, and sample ballots are not required.

D. Only qualified electors of the city, the town and the unincorporated areas shall vote on the question.  If a majority of the qualified electors voting on the question in each area votes for unification, the board of supervisors shall declare by an order entered of record the city, town and unincorporated areas unified into one incorporated city.  The order of the board shall designate the name of the city.

E. Except as otherwise provided in this article, the manner of conducting the registration and election, keeping the poll lists, making the returns, declaring the results and doing all acts relating to the election shall conform to the procedure provided by law for the registration and qualification of electors and holding elections in which the question of issuance of bonds of municipal corporations is submitted to an election.

F. The board of supervisors shall appoint the first common council for the new city.  The board of supervisors shall appoint seven members at least two of whom shall be from each of the three areas unified.  Following appointment, the council shall designate one of its members to serve as mayor.  At the earliest possible date following the formation of the new city, the new city shall be divided by the appointed council into six districts, and an election shall be called to fill the six council districts and elect at large a directly elected mayor.  The mayor and council members shall serve four year staggered terms.  At the first election, the three council members with the highest vote shall serve four year terms and the three other council members elected shall serve two year terms in order to accomplish staggered terms for future elections.

G. The incorporated limits of the new city shall be those shown on the resolutions from the incorporated city and town and shall be their combined corporate limits plus the unincorporated areas that appear on the petition submitted pursuant to subsection A of this section and that are between or adjacent to the city and the town.  In no event shall any such petition include land or improvements utilized for mining, metallurgical or related environmental remediation purposes without written consent of the landowner. The ordinances and resolutions of the former city, town and county shall continue in force unless repealed or changed by the new common council, including franchises and transaction privilege taxes.  In the case of conflict between ordinances or resolutions, the ordinances or resolutions of the former city or town with the larger population shall prevail, except that zoning regulations applying to property at the time of unification shall remain in effect until the council of the new unified city adopts a zoning ordinance applying to the property.  The new city shall be liable for all debts and liabilities of the former city and town and shall be entitled to receive all property and rights of action belonging to the former city and town.

H. A city incorporated pursuant to this section has all powers, duties, rights and privileges granted to incorporated cities and towns under the laws and constitution of this state.  For purposes of state shared revenues, including state transaction privilege tax, state income tax, vehicle license taxes, highway user revenues and local transportation assistance fund monies, a combined amount that would have been distributed to the former town and city unified shall be distributed to the new city until a combined census count including the unincorporated areas can be obtained. Once the combined census count is obtained, the updated census count shall be used for the distribution of the state shared revenues retroactive to the first of the month following unification.  The annual population estimate of the unified city prepared by the department of economic security shall be used for distribution of local transportation assistance fund monies.

I. The unified city shall have a property tax levy limit calculated as the combined maximum allowable levy limit of the town and city unless another levy limit is approved by the voters of the unified city at a regularly scheduled election.  The expenditure limit of the unified city shall be the alternative expenditure limitation of the largest city until the fiscal year following the unified city's first general election.  At such election, the council may propose an alternative expenditure limitation or permanent base adjustment and if not approved the unified city's expenditure limitation shall be calculated using the formula provided for a newly incorporated city unless subsequently changed by the voters.