A question was raised today about the 50-point threshold here in NY State, and if a sponsor can require more than 50 points to earn service credit and a service award benefit. According to the Office of the State Comptroller, the answer is no.
Opinion 2001-2 states, in part:
Section 217(c) of the GML provides that "[a] year of firefighting service shall be credited under a service award program for each calendar year after establishment of the program in which an active volunteer firefighter accumulates at least fifty points" (emphasis added). In view of the mandatory language in this provision, we believe it is clear that the program sponsor has no discretion to alter this fifty point threshold. Therefore, in any calendar year in which an eligible, active volunteer firefighter accumulates at least fifty points, he or she must be credited with a year of firefighting service. The program sponsor may not require accumulation of more than fifty points as a condition precedent to crediting an active volunteer firefighter with a year of firefighting service.
Therefore, once a firefighter earns 50 points, that firefighter earns service credit and a service award benefit.