If a trust is created, a separate deposit shall be made for each issue of appropriation bonds or general obligation promissory notes being refunded. Each deposit shall be with a bank or trust company authorized by the laws of the United States or of a state in which it is located to conduct banking or trust company business. If the total amount of any deposit, including moneys other than sale proceeds but legally available for such purpose, is less than the principal amount of the appropriation bonds or general obligation promissory notes being refunded and for the payment of which the deposit has been created and pledged, together with applicable redemption premiums and interest accrued and to accrue to maturity or to the date of redemption, then the application of the sale proceeds shall be legally sufficient only if the moneys deposited are invested in securities issued by the United States or one of its agencies, or securities fully guaranteed by the United States, and only if the principal amount of the securities at maturity and the income therefrom to maturity will be sufficient and available, without the need for any further investment or reinvestment, to pay at maturity or upon redemption the principal amount of the appropriation bonds or general obligation promissory notes being refunded together with applicable redemption premiums and interest accrued and to accrue to maturity or to the date of redemption. The income from the principal proceeds of the securities shall be applied solely to the payment of the principal of and interest and redemption premiums on the appropriation bonds or general obligation promissory notes being refunded, but provision may be made for the pledging and disposition of any surplus.
Nothing in this paragraph may be construed as a limitation on the duration of any deposit in trust for the retirement of appropriation bonds or general obligation promissory notes being refunded that have not matured and that are not presently redeemable. Nothing in this paragraph may be constructed to prohibit reinvestment of the income of a trust if the reinvestments will mature at such times that sufficient moneys will be available to pay interest, applicable premiums, and principal on the appropriation bonds or general obligation promissory notes being refunded.
All appropriation bonds shall be registered by the city clerk or city treasurer of the city issuing the appropriation bonds, or such other officers or agents, including fiscal agents, as the common council may determine. After registration, no transfer of an appropriation bond is valid unless made by the registered owner's duly authorized attorney, on the records of the city and similarly noted on the appropriation bond. The city may treat the registered owner as the owner of the appropriation bond for all purposes. Payments of principal and interest shall be by electronic funds transfer, check, share draft, or other draft to the registered owner at the owner's address as it appears on the register, unless the common council has otherwise provided. Information in the register is not available for inspection and copying under s. 19.35 (1)
. The common council may make any other provision respecting registration as it considers necessary or desirable.
The common council may appoint one or more trustees or fiscal agents for each issue of appropriation bonds. The city treasurer may be designated as the trustee and the sole fiscal agent or as cofiscal agent for any issue of appropriation bonds. Every other fiscal agent shall be an incorporated bank or trust company authorized by the laws of the United States or of the state in which it is located to conduct banking or trust company business. There may be deposited with a trustee, in a special account, moneys to be used only for the purposes expressly provided in the resolution authorizing the issuance of appropriation bonds or an agreement between the city and the trustee. The common council may make other provisions respecting trustees and fiscal agents as the common council considers necessary or desirable and may enter into contracts with any trustee or fiscal agent containing such terms, including compensation, and conditions in regard to the trustee or fiscal agent as the common council considers necessary or desirable.
If any appropriation bond is destroyed, lost, or stolen, the city shall execute and deliver a new appropriation bond, upon filing with the common council evidence satisfactory to the common council that the appropriation bond has been destroyed, lost, or stolen, upon providing proof of ownership thereof, and upon furnishing the common council with indemnity satisfactory to it and complying with such other rules of the city and paying any expenses that the city may incur. The common council shall cancel the appropriation bond surrendered to the city.
Unless otherwise directed by the common council, every appropriation bond paid or otherwise retired shall be marked "canceled" and delivered to the city treasurer, or to such other fiscal agent as applicable with respect to the appropriation bond, who shall destroy them and deliver a certificate to that effect to the city clerk.
(8) Appropriation bonds as legal investments.
Any of the following may legally invest any sinking funds, moneys, or other funds belonging to them or under their control in any appropriation bonds issued under this section:
The state, the investment board, public officers, municipal corporations, political subdivisions, and public bodies.
Banks and bankers, savings and loan associations, credit unions, trust companies, savings banks and institutions, investment companies, insurance companies, insurance associations, and other persons carrying on a banking or insurance business.
Personal representatives, guardians, trustees, and other fiduciaries.
(9) Moral obligation pledge.
If the common council considers it necessary or desirable to do so, it may express in a resolution authorizing appropriation bonds its expectation and aspiration to make timely appropriations sufficient to pay the principal and interest due with respect to such appropriation bonds, to make deposits into a reserve fund created under sub. (4) (a)
with respect to such appropriation bonds, to make payments under any agreement or ancillary arrangement entered into under s. 62.621
with respect to such appropriation bonds, to make deposits into any stabilization fund established or continued under s. 62.622
with respect to such appropriation bonds, or to pay related issuance or administrative expenses.
This section does not apply if a city does not issue appropriation bonds as authorized under sub. (2)
History: 2009 a. 28
Agreements and ancillary arrangements for certain notes and appropriation bonds.
At the time of issuance or in anticipation of the issuance of appropriation bonds under s. 62.62
, or general obligation promissory notes under s. 67.12 (12)
, to pay unfunded prior service liability with respect to an employee retirement system, or at any time thereafter so long as the appropriation bonds or general obligation promissory notes are outstanding, a 1st class city may enter into agreements or ancillary arrangements relating to the appropriation bonds or general obligation promissory notes, including trust indentures, liquidity facilities, remarketing or dealer agreements, letters of credit, insurance policies, guaranty agreements, reimbursement agreements, indexing agreements, and interest exchange agreements. Any payments made or amounts received with respect to any such agreement or ancillary arrangement shall be made from or deposited as provided in the agreement or ancillary arrangement.
History: 2009 a. 28
Employee retirement system liability financing in 1st class cities; additional powers. 62.622(1)(b)
"Common council" means the common council of a city.
"Pension funding plan" means a strategic and financial plan related to the payment of all or part of a city's unfunded prior service liability with respect to an employee retirement system.
"Trust" means a common law trust organized under the laws of this state, by the city, as settlor, pursuant to a formal, written, declaration of trust.
(2) Special financing entities, funds, and accounts. 62.622(2)(a)(a)
To facilitate a pension funding plan and in furtherance thereof, a common council may create one or more of the following:
An entity described under par. (a)
has all of the powers provided to it under applicable law and the documents pursuant to which it is created and established. The powers shall be construed broadly in favor of effectuating the purposes for which the entity is created. A city may appropriate funds to such entities and to such funds and accounts, under terms and conditions established by the common council, consistent with the purposes for which they are created and established.
To facilitate a pension funding plan a common council may establish a stabilization fund. Any such fund may be created as a trust, a special fund or account of the city established by a separate resolution or ordinance, or a fund or account created under an authorizing resolution or trust indenture in connection with the authorization and issuance of appropriation bonds under s. 62.62
or general obligation promissory notes under s. 67.12 (12)
. A city may appropriate funds for deposit to a stabilization fund established under this subsection.
Moneys in a stabilization fund established under this subsection may be used, subject to annual appropriation by the common council, solely to pay principal or interest on appropriation bonds issued under s. 62.62
and general obligation promissory notes under s. 67.12 (12)
issued in connection with a pension funding plan, for the redemption or repurchase of such appropriation bonds or general obligation promissory notes, to make payments under any agreement or ancillary arrangement entered into under s. 62.621
with respect to such appropriation bonds or general obligation promissory notes, or to pay annual pension costs other than normal costs. Moneys on deposit in a stabilization fund may not be subject to any claims, demands, or actions by, or transfers or assignments to, any creditor of the city, any beneficiary of the city's employee retirement system, or any other person, on terms other than as may be established in the resolution or ordinance creating the stabilization fund. Moneys on deposit in a stabilization fund established under this subsection may be invested and reinvested in the manner directed by the common council or pursuant to delegation by the common council as provided under s. 66.0603 (5)
History: 2009 a. 28
Payment of contributions in an employee retirement system of a 1st class city. 62.623(1)
Beginning on July 1, 2011, in any employee retirement system of a 1st class city, except as otherwise provided in a collective bargaining agreement entered into under subch. IV of ch. 111
and except as provided in sub. (2)
, employees shall pay all employee required contributions for funding benefits under the retirement system. The employer may not pay on behalf of an employee any of the employee's share of the required contributions.
An employer shall pay, on behalf of a nonrepresented law enforcement or fire fighting managerial employee, who was initially employed by the employer before July 1, 2011, the same contributions required by sub. (1)
that are paid by the employer for represented law enforcement or fire fighting personnel who were initially employed by the employer before July 1, 2011.
An employer shall pay, on behalf of a represented law enforcement or fire fighting employee, who was initially employed by the employer before July 1, 2011, and who on or after July 1, 2011, became employed in a nonrepresented law enforcement or fire fighting managerial position with the employer, or a successor employer in the event of a combined department that is created on or after July 1, 2011, the same contributions required by sub. (1)
that are paid by the employer for represented law enforcement or fire fighting personnel who were initially employed by the employer before July 1, 2011.
History: 2011 a. 10
This section concerns a matter of primarily statewide concern, and, accordingly, survives the plaintiffs' home rule challenge under Article XI, section 3 (1) of the Wisconsin Constitution. Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Walker, 2014 WI 99
, ___ Wis. 2d ___, ___ N.W.2d ___, 12-2067
This section does not violate Article I, section 12, the Contract Clause of the Wisconsin Constitution. Nothing in 2011 Wis. Act 10
purports to reduce, impair, or affect in any way benefits that have already accrued to plan members. This section modifies only the method by which the Milwaukee ERS is funded; the pension, disability, and death benefits that accrue to plan members pursuant to the terms and conditions in the Milwaukee Retirement System ordinance remain unaffected. Madison Teachers, Inc. v. Walker, 2014 WI 99
, ___ Wis. 2d ___, ___ N.W.2d ___, 12-2067
Benefit funds for officers and employees of 1st class cities. 62.63(1)(1)
Establishment of funds.
By a majority vote of the members-elect, the common council of a 1st class city may create, establish, maintain and administer annuity and benefit funds for city officers and employees, including officers and employees of boards, agencies, departments and divisions of the city government and of a housing authority established under s. 66.1201
(2) Retirement board.
By a majority vote of its members, the common council of a 1st class city may create a retirement board to administer an annuity and benefit fund under this section. The retirement board may make rules and regulations under which all participants contribute to and receive benefits from the fund. Members of the board shall serve without compensation. Three members of the board shall be city employees elected by the members of the retirement system and shall serve 4-year terms and 5 members shall be appointed under s. 62.51
and shall serve 3-year terms. The common council may provide for contribution by the city to the annuity and benefit fund. The executive director of the retirement board shall be appointed under s. 62.51
(3) Investment of retirement funds.
The board of a retirement system of a 1st class city, whose funds are independent of control by the investment board, may invest funds from the system, in excess of the amount of cash required for current operations, in the same manner as is authorized for investments under s. 881.01
(4) Exemption of funds and benefits from taxation, execution and assignment.
Except as provided in s. 49.852
and subject to s. 767.75
, all moneys and assets of a retirement system of a 1st class city and all benefits and allowances, both before and after payment to any beneficiary, granted under the retirement system are exempt from any state, county or municipal tax or from attachment or garnishment process. The benefits and allowances may not be seized, taken, detained or levied upon by virtue of any executions, or any process or proceeding issued out of or by any court of this state, for the payment and ratification in whole or in part of any debt, claim, damage, demand or judgment against any member of or beneficiary under the retirement system. No member of or beneficiary under the retirement system may assign any benefit or allowance either by way of mortgage or otherwise. The prohibition against assigning a benefit or allowance does not apply to assignments made for the payment of insurance premiums. The exemption from taxation under this section does not apply with respect to any tax on income.
(5) Treatment of abandoned retirement accounts.
Funds in employee retirement accounts of a retirement system of a 1st class city, which are presumed abandoned under s. 177.13
, are not subject to the custody of the state as unclaimed property under ch. 177
, but shall be retained by the retirement system and used to reduce employer funding obligations to the retirement system. The board of a retirement system of a 1st class city shall devise rules and regulations for determining the conditions under which employee retirement accounts are presumed abandoned and for determining the manner in which funds in the abandoned employee retirement accounts may be used to reduce employer funding obligations to the retirement system.
Sub. (4) bars a court from directly dividing the pension. However, the pension is a marital asset accumulated during the course of the marriage. The court has discretionary authority to order the employee spouse to make a specific payout election or enter other orders in the event a selection is made that is counter to the non-employee spouse's interests. Sub. (4) does not usurp the court's ability to effectuate an equitable division of the parties' assets, including the pension. Waln v. Waln, 2005 WI App 54
, 280 Wis. 2d 253
, 694 N.W.2d 452
Death benefit payments to foreign beneficiaries.
The common council of a 1st class city may provide that under the city's retirement system no beneficiary may be designated for the payment of any retirement allowance, pension or proceeds of a member of the retirement system if the beneficiary is not a resident of either the United States or Canada. If a beneficiary is designated who is neither a resident of the United States nor Canada, any contributions or retirement allowance which would have been paid to the beneficiary had the beneficiary been a resident of either the United States or Canada is payable to the estate of the deceased member of the retirement system. The common council may also provide that if a death benefit would be payable because of the death of a member of the retirement system and the designated beneficiary of the death benefit is not a resident of either the United States or Canada, the death benefit which would have been paid had the designated beneficiary been a resident of either the United States or Canada is payable to the estate of the deceased member.
History: 1991 a. 316
; 1999 a. 150
; Stats. 1999 s. 62.65.
Uninsured motorist coverage; 1st class cities.
A 1st class city shall provide uninsured motorist motor vehicle liability insurance coverage for motor vehicles owned by the city and operated by city employees in the course of employment. The coverage required by this section shall have at least the limits prescribed for uninsured motorist coverage under s. 632.32 (4) (a) 1.
History: 1983 a. 537
; Stats. 1983 s. 66.187; 1983 a. 538
; Stats. 1983 s. 66.189; 1999 a. 150
; Stats. 1999 s. 62.67; 2009 a. 28
This section requires the city to provide uninsured motorist coverage for its vehicles regardless of whether it is able to obtain coverage from an insurance carrier. American Family Insurance Co. v. Milwaukee, 148 Wis. 2d 280
, 435 N.W.2d 280
(Ct. App. 1988).
This section puts the city in the position of an insurer subject to the subrogation rights of its officer's personal insurers. Millers National Ins. Co. v. Milwaukee, 184 Wis. 2d 155
, 516 N.W.2d 516
(Ct. App. 1994).
This section requires the city to be the primary provider of uninsured motorist coverage. Norman v. City of Milwaukee, 198 Wis. 2d 98
, 542 N.W.2d 473
(Ct. App. 1995), 95-0009
A self-insured city is not an insurer writing policies subject to s. 632.32 (4m) (a) 1. and is not subject to the requirement to provide underinsured motorist coverage. Van Erden v. Sobczak, 2004 WI App 40
, 271 Wis. 2d 163
, 677 N.W.2d 718
First class city utilities. 62.69(1)
This section applies to 1st class cities.
In this subsection, "commissioner of public works" includes any board of public works, or commissioner of public works, or other officer of the city having control of the city's public works.
In this subsection, all acts authorized to be done by the commissioner of public works, except enforcement of regulations approved by the common council, shall be approved by the common council before the acts may take effect.
Water rates shall be collected in the manner and by whom the common council determines, and shall be accounted for and paid to the other officials in the manner and at the times that the council prescribes. Persons collecting water rates shall give a bond to cover all the duties in an amount prescribed by the council. Final accounting shall be made to the comptroller and final disposition of money shall be made to the city treasurer.
When the city owns its water system, the commissioner of public works may make and enforce bylaws, rules and regulations in relation to the water system, and, before the actual introduction of water, the commissioner shall make bylaws, rules and regulations, fixing uniform water rates to be paid for the use of water furnished by the water system, and fixing the manner of distributing and supplying water for use or consumption, and for withholding or turning off water for cause. The commissioner may alter, modify or repeal the bylaws, rules and regulations.
Water rates are due as the common council provides. To all water rates remaining unpaid 20 days after the due date, there shall be added a penalty of 5% of the amount due, and if the rates remain unpaid for 10 additional days, water may be turned off the premises. If the supply of water is turned off, water may not be turned on to the premises until all delinquent rates and penalties, and a sum not exceeding $2 for turning the water off and on, are paid. The penalty and charge may be made when payment is made to a collector sent to the premises. On or before the date on which rates become due, a written or printed notice or bill shall be mailed or personally delivered to the occupant or, upon written request, to the owner at the location the owner states, of all premises subject to the payment of water rates, stating the amount due, the time when and the place where the rates can be paid and the penalty for neglect of payment.
All water rates for water furnished to any building or premises, and the cost of repairing meters, service pipes, stops or stop boxes, are a lien on the lot, part of lot or parcel of land on which the building or premises is located. If any water rates or bills for the repairing of meters, service pipes, stops or stop boxes remain unpaid on October 1, the unpaid rates or bills shall be certified to the city comptroller on or before November 1, and shall be placed by the comptroller upon the tax roll and collected in the same manner as other taxes on real estate are collected in the city. The charge for water supplied by the city in all premises where meters are attached and connected shall be at rates fixed by the commissioner of public works and for the quantity indicated by the meter. If the commissioner of public works determines that the quantity indicated by the meter is materially incorrect or if a meter has been off temporarily due to repairs, the commissioner shall estimate the quantity used, and the determination is conclusive. No water rate or rates duly assessed against any property may be remitted or changed except by the common council. Under this paragraph, if an unpaid charge or bill is for utility service furnished and metered by the waterworks directly to a mobile home unit in a licensed mobile home park, the delinquent amount is a lien on the mobile home unit rather than a lien on the parcel of real estate on which the mobile home unit is located. A lien on a mobile home unit may be enforced using the procedures under s. 779.48 (2)
This paragraph applies only if all of the following conditions are met:
The waterworks provides water service to a rental dwelling unit.
The owner of the rental dwelling unit notifies the commissioner of public works in writing of the name and address of the owner.
The owner of the rental dwelling unit notifies the commissioner of public works in writing of the name and address of the tenant who is responsible for payment of the utility charges.
If requested by the commissioner of public works, the owner of the rental dwelling unit provides the commissioner of public works with a copy of the rental or lease agreement in which the tenant assumes responsibility for the payment of the utility charges.
If this paragraph applies, the commissioner of public works may use par. (f)
to collect unpaid charges and bills incurred after the owner of a rental dwelling unit has provided the commissioner of public works with written notice under subd. 1.
only if the commissioner of public works complies with at least one of the following:
In order to comply with this subd. 2. a.
, the commissioner of public works shall send bills for water service to a customer who is a tenant in the tenant's own name. Each time that a commissioner of public works notifies a customer who is a tenant that charges for water service provided by the waterworks to the customer are past due for more than one billing cycle, the commissioner of public works shall also serve a copy of the notice on the owner of the rental dwelling unit in the manner provided in s. 801.14 (2)
. If a customer who is a tenant vacates his or her rental dwelling unit, and the owner of the rental dwelling unit provides the commissioner of public works, no later than 21 days after the date on which the tenant vacates the rental dwelling unit, with a sworn affidavit that contains a forwarding address for the tenant, the date that the tenant vacated the rental dwelling unit and a meter reading reflecting the service for which the tenant is responsible, the commissioner of public works shall continue to send past-due notices to the customer at his or her forwarding address until the past-due charges are paid or until the past-due charges have been certified to the comptroller under par. (f)
In order to comply with this subd. 2. b.
, if a customer who is a tenant has charges for water service provided by the waterworks that are past due, the commissioner of public works shall serve notice of the past-due charges on the owner of the rental dwelling unit within 14 days of the date on which the tenant's charges became past due. The commissioner of public works shall serve notice in the manner provided in s. 801.14 (2)
The commissioner of public works may demonstrate compliance with the notice requirements of subd. 2. a.
by providing evidence of having sent the notice by U.S. mail.
The city commissioner of public works may issue a permit to the county in which the city is located, to any national home for disabled soldiers, or to any other applicant to obtain water from the city's water system for use outside of the limits of the city and for that purpose to connect any pipe that is laid outside of the city limits with water pipe in the city. No permit may be issued until the applicant files with the commissioner of public works a bond in the sum and with the surety that the commissioner approves on the condition: that the applicant will obey the rules and regulations prescribed by the commissioner for the use of the water; that the applicant will pay all charges fixed by the commissioner for the use of the water as measured by a meter to be approved by the commissioner, including the proportionate cost of fluoridating the water and, except as to water furnished directly to county or other municipal properties, which may not be less than one-quarter more than those charged to the inhabitants of the city for like use of water; that the applicant will pay to the city a water pipe assessment if the property to be supplied with water has frontage on any thoroughfare forming the city boundary line in which a water main has been or shall be laid, and at the rate prescribed by the commissioner; if the property to be supplied does not front on a city boundary but is distant from a boundary, that a main pipe of the same size, class and standard as terminates at the city boundary shall be extended, and the entire cost shall be paid by the applicant for the extension; that the water main shall be laid according to city specifications and under city inspection; that the water main and appliances shall become the property of the city, without any compensation for the main or appliances, if the property supplied with water by the extension or any part of the property is annexed to or in any manner becomes a part of the city; and that the applicant will pay to the city all damages that it sustains, arising out of the manner in which the connection is made or water supply is used. In granting a permit to a county or to a national home for disabled soldiers, the commissioner of public works may waive the giving of a bond. Every permit shall be issued upon the understanding that the city is not liable for any damage in case of failure to supply water by reason of any condition beyond its control.
The commissioner of public works shall prescribe and regulate the kind of water meters to be used in the city and the manner of attaching and connecting the water meters, and may make other rules for the use and control of water meters as are necessary to secure reliable and just measurement of the quantity of water used; and may alter and amend the rules as necessary for the purposes named. If the owner or occupant of any premises, where the attaching and connection of a water meter may lawfully be required, neglects or fails to attach and connect a water meter, as is required according to the rules established by the commissioner of public works, for 30 days after the expiration of the time within which the owner or occupant is notified by the commissioner of public works to attach and connect a meter, the commissioner of public works may cause the water supplied by the city to be cut off from the premises, and it shall not be restored except upon the terms and conditions prescribed by the commissioner of public works.
The commissioner of public works may prescribe and regulate the size of connections made with the distribution mains for supplying automatic sprinkler systems and fix an annual charge for such service.
The commissioner of public works may make rules and regulations for the proper ventilating and trapping of all drains, soil pipes and fixtures constructed to connect with or be used in connection with the sewerage or water supply of the city. The common council may provide by ordinance for the enforcement of the rules and regulations, including penalties. The commissioner may make rules to regulate the use of vent, soil, drain, sewer or water pipes in all buildings in the city proposed to be connected with the city water supply or sewerage, specifying the dimensions, strength and material. The commissioner may prohibit the introduction into any building of any style of water fixture, tap or connection determined to be dangerous to health or unfit to be used. The commissioner shall require a rigid inspection by a skilled and competent inspector under the direction of the commissioner of all plumbing and draining work and water and sewer connections in any building in the city, and unless the work and connections are done or made according to rules of and approved by the commissioner, no connection of the premises with the city sewerage or water supply may be made.
The commissioner of public works shall make an annual report to the council of the commissioner's doings under this section, the state of the water fund and the general condition of the water system. The report, after being submitted to the council, shall be filed in the office of the comptroller.
In this subsection, "electric plant" means a plant for the production, transmission, delivery and furnishing of electric light, heat or power directly to the public.
If the city decides to acquire an electric plant or any other public utility in accordance with the provisions of this section, the mayor, prior to the city taking possession of the property, shall appoint, subject to the confirmation of the council, 7 persons of recognized business experience and standing to act as the board of directors for the utility. Two persons shall be appointed for a term of 2 years, 2 for a term of 4 years, 2 for a term of 6 years, and one for a term of 8 years. Successors shall be appointed for terms of 10 years each. A director may be removed by the mayor with the approval of the council for misconduct in office or for unreasonable absence from meetings of the directors.
Utility directors may: employ a manager experienced in the management of electric plants or other public utilities, fix his or her compensation and the other terms and conditions of employment and remove him or her at pleasure, subject to the terms and conditions of his or her employment; advise and consult with the manager and other employees as to any matter pertaining to maintenance, operation or extension of the utility; and perform other duties as ordinarily devolve upon a board of directors of a corporation organized under ch. 180
not inconsistent with this section and the laws governing 1st class cities. No money may be raised or authorized to be raised by the board of directors other than from revenues derived from the operation of the utility, except by action of the council.
The manager appointed by the board of directors may manage and control the utility, subject to the powers conferred upon the board of directors and the council under this subsection and may appoint assistants and all other employees which the manager considers necessary and fix their compensation and other terms and conditions of employment, except that the board of directors may prescribe rules for determining the fitness of persons for positions and employment.
The council shall fix the compensation, if any, of members of the board of directors and has other powers it possesses with reference to electric plants and other public utilities.