In the last post we discussed that the fire company must compile the list of volunteers indicating which of them earned service credit during the year. This list must be certified under oath and submitted to the sponsoring political subdivision by March 31st.
General Municipal Law §219-a(d) requires that the governing board of the political subdivision then review that certified list and approve it. There is no additional detail - just that the list must be approved.
Every municipality takes a different approach when approving the points. In a fire district, there is often a more intimate knowledge of the activities of the fire company, so the commissioners have good intuition in reviewing the list and knowing if it is reasonable. They also likely have more control and oversight over the actual tracking of the points.
But in a village fire company, or for a town that contracts with an independent fire company, the task of approving the points likely takes more effort. Some hire an accountant to audit the points prior to approving them. Since there is no time deadline for approving the points, there is no restriction from that standpoint, but clearly there is a cost consideration. Some task one of the village or town officials, usually the treasurer or comptroller, to selectively audit the points. This seems like the most reasonable approach. There isn't much need to audit all of the records - those volunteers with 90 points are likely to have earned 50 or more, even if there were some record keeping mistakes. Same on he other side for someone with only 25 points.
Our suggestion, regardless of the type of sponsoring municipality, is to select a few members that are between 45 and 65 points. Ask the fire company to bring in the supporting documentation for those members so the points can be verified. This task shouldn't take terribly long (no more than a day), and would give the board comfort in approving the points.
Part of the review process should also be that the points were being tabulated in accordance with the Point System adopted by the municipal board. Unless the municipal board made changes during the year, there should be no variation in how the points are awarded from the prior year.
Some municipalities don't review the points at this time, but rather wait for the accountant performing the required annual audit to review the records. That is not the preferred approach. Although the audit may catch errors, they will be caught after the fact, and payments to volunteers may have already been made based on incorrect data. So it is a better approach to do some simple, easy review before approving the points.
The municipal board should approve the points / service credit by resolution at an official meeting. It should be made part of the public record that the listing is being approved.
The next post will be about one of the more controversial requirements - the 30 day posting - and when that posting period should begin and end.
Leave a Reply.