Bill A 7552 / S 4207-A has passed the Assembly and Senate.
This bill increases the Defined Contribution service award from $700 to $1,200. Now, we wait for the Governor to sign it into law.
When the law was amended to increase the contribution from $480 to $700, the Governor had not signed the bill into law by the time most Fire Districts had to adopt the resolution to have the proposition on the December Commissioner's election. The same thing may happen this year. Any Fire District (or Village or Town) wishing to amend the program effective 1/1/2020 to reflect an increase in the contribution may have to put a stipulation in the resolution an proposition that the increase is contingent on the Governor signing the bill into law.
Contact us with any questions!
We are tracking two bills that are being considered during the final days of the legislative session. The session was scheduled to end today (Wednesday 6/19) but there are indications that it may be extended to the end of the week.
The first bill is A 7276 / S 5895, which would increase the maximum years of service credit that can be earned from 40 years to 50 years. The Senate version has been passed by the Senate; the Assembly version has been referred to the local government committee. It is possible the Assembly will pass their bill before the session ends, but time is running out.
The second bill is A 7552 / S 4207-A, which would increase the Defined Contribution service award from $700 to $1,200. The Senate has passed its bill, and the Assembly version is making its way through the process. The Assembly version is currently on the calendar, and appears it will be moving towards being passed by the Assembly before the end of the session.
We will continue to keep an eye on this and inform you of developments.
I'm purposefully skipping to the end - to the last point system category. We'll circle back to the other three, leaving Miscellaneous to the end since it is sort of a "catch all" category.
(ix)Teaching fire prevention classes—five points maximum. An active volunteer firefighter who at the direction of his company, district or department, and for no remuneration, presents a public education class on fire prevention to a school, not-for-profit corporation, or civic organization organized and existing under the laws of this state or authorized to conduct activities in this state—one point per class.
This category was added to the Statute effective 9/24/2002. So any point system that was adopted prior to that date may not have this category.
This creates an interesting situation - based on audits from the Office of the State Comptroller, their view is essentially that once these activities were separated out into their own category, they ceased to be a Miscellaneous point and therefore in order for a volunteer to receive points for these activities, the category must be added by the sponsor to the adopted point system.
That leads us to another rabbit hole regarding how it should be added. We will cover that in a later post.
The important takeaway is if your point system does not have this category, volunteers cannot receive points for this activity under the Miscellaneous category, because it is no longer a Miscellaneous activity, which is defined as "Participation in inspections and other activities covered by the volunteer firefighters’ benefit law and not otherwise listed" (emphasis added). Now that teaching fire prevention classes is listed, it isn't a Miscellaneous activity.
The category itself is pretty straight forward. One of the difficulties that has come up is what to do about demonstrations that might happen during an open house, for example, during Recruit NY or other similar functions. If during an open house the fire department puts on some demonstrations about fire prevention, would that demonstration count as a point under this category? Or would just the entire day of being involved in the open house count in general as Miscellaneous point? Or even further, could someone get the Miscellaneous point and a Teaching point? All great questions!
The wording says it must be a public education class to a school, not-for-profit or civic organization. Would residents who show up to an open house be considered a "civic organization"? I think you could probably make that case, but that is a good question for your local attorney.
My local fire department has done a fire safety presentation for the Cub Scouts for years. That would certainly count as a Teaching point. So then would that same class given to same-aged kids who show up at an open house not? It would seem reasonable that if the mission is the same - public education class on fire prevention - that it would be reasonable to treat it as a Teaching point. But again, check with your local attorney first.