(1) The Municipal Rate Negotiations Revolving Loan Fund is created. The fund shall be used to make loans to cities for rate negotiations under section 66-1838 or negotiations or litigation under section 66-1867, except that transfers may be made from the fund to the General Fund at the direction of the Legislature. Only one loan may be made for each rate filing made by a jurisdictional utility within the scope of each section. Money in the Municipal Natural Gas Regulation Revolving Loan Fund that is not necessary to finance rate proceedings initiated prior to May 31, 2003, shall be transferred to the Municipal Rate Negotiations Revolving Loan Fund on May 31, 2003, and repayments of loans or other obligations owing to the Municipal Natural Gas Regulation Revolving Loan Fund on May 31, 2003, shall be deposited in the Municipal Rate Negotiations Revolving Loan Fund upon receipt. Any obligations against or commitments of money from the Municipal Natural Gas Regulation Revolving Loan Fund on May 31, 2003, shall be obligations or commitments of the Municipal Rate Negotiations Revolving Loan Fund.
(2) The Municipal Rate Negotiations Revolving Loan Fund shall be administered by the commission which shall adopt and promulgate rules and regulations to carry out this section. The rules and regulations shall include:
(a) Loan application procedures and forms; and
(b) Fund-use monitoring and quarterly accounting of fund use.
(3) Applicants for a loan from the fund shall provide a budget statement which specifies the proposed use of the loan proceeds. Such proceeds may only be used for the costs and expenses incurred by the city to analyze rate filings for the purposes specified in section 66-1838 or 66-1867. Such costs and expenses may include the cost of rate consultants and attorneys and any other necessary costs related to the negotiation process or litigation under section 66-1867. Disbursements from the fund shall be audited by the commission. The affected jurisdictional utility may petition the commission to initiate a proceeding to determine whether the disbursements from the fund were expended by the negotiating cities consistent with the requirements of this section.
(4) The fund shall be audited as part of the regular audit of the commission's budget, and copies of the audit shall be available to all cities and any jurisdictional utility. Audits conducted pursuant to this section are public records.
(5) Any money in the fund available for investment shall be invested by the state investment officer pursuant to the Nebraska Capital Expansion Act and the Nebraska State Funds Investment Act. If the fund balance exceeds four hundred thousand dollars, the income on the money in the fund shall be credited to the permanent school fund until the balance of the Municipal Rate Negotiations Revolving Loan Fund falls below such amount.
(6) A city which receives a loan under this section shall be responsible to provide for the opportunity for all other cities engaged in the same negotiations with the same jurisdictional utility to participate in all negotiations. Such city shall not exclude any other city from the information or benefits accruing from the use of loan funds.
(7) Upon the conclusion of negotiations, regardless of the result, the loan shall be repaid by the jurisdictional utility to the commission within thirty days after the date upon which it is billed by the commission. The utility shall recover the amount paid on the loan by a special surcharge on ratepayers who are or will be affected by the rate increase request. These ratepayers may be billed on their monthly statements for a period not to exceed twelve months, and the surcharge may be shown as a separate item on the statements as a charge for rate negotiation expenses.