It seems appropriate to first address who actually adopts, or amends the point system. There is some confusing language in the statute that must be navigated through.
Section 217(c) of the General Municipal Law (GML) includes the following language: "Points shall be granted in accordance with a system adopted by the program sponsor. Such system shall provide that points shall be granted for activities designated by the program sponsor, which activities shall be selected from the following:"
The term "sponsor" is a defined term in Section 215(10) as: 10.“Sponsor” or “sponsoring organization” means a political subdivision which has established or jointly established a service award program, a volunteer fire company or department, or any other entity responsible for fire protection.
Including the the volunteer fire company or department in the definition of sponsor is challenging. It would seem to imply then that the fire company or department could be the entity that adopts the point system.
However, GML Section 216 is the section that provides the authorization to establish a LOSAP (we are conveniently ignoring 216-a, which is for special situations that don't apply to most municipalities), and it states "A service award program may be adopted only by resolution of the governing board of a political subdivision". It further states "The resolution authorizing the adoption of a service award program shall state...", and goes on to list several items, including "the activities for which points shall be granted toward a year of fire service". So it is clear that the political subdivision must include the Point System as part of the adopting resolution and therefore ultimately approves, or adopts, the Point System.
Section 216 continues to state "Except as otherwise provided in this paragraph once a service award program has been established, it may be abolished or amended in the same manner as it was created in accordance with the provisions of this article by following the procedures set forth in subdivision one or two of this section. The point system adopted by the governing board of the sponsor of a service award program pursuant to subdivision (c) of section two hundred seventeen of this article may be amended by the affirmative vote of at least sixty percent of such governing board, without referendum, provided, that, consistent with the provisions of subdivision (c) of section two hundred seventeen, the only effect of the amendment is to decrease the number of points granted for the performance of an activity, increase the amount of an activity required to earn the points granted for the performance of the activity, or both."
Therefore, to amend the LOSAP a political subdivision must adopt another resolution and have the amendment approved by referendum. This includes changes to the Point System if, essentially, the effect of the change is to make it easier to earn 50 points. If the change is to make it more difficult to earn 50 points, then the change can be made just by resolution of the governing board of the sponsor. So again, the confusion is raised by the use of the term "sponsor" and not "political subdivision". Additionally, would it make sense to allow a fire company to make some changes to the Point System but the political subdivision others? Possibly, especially since the changes that can be made by the "sponsor" are changes that make it harder to earn 50 points.
Ultimately, it appears that in view of all the applicable sections of the statute that the political subdivision is the one that should adopt the point system, despite the problematic language in Section 217. It also seems most appropriate that the political subdivision should adopt any changes, and at a minimum oversee and be made aware of any changes.
This is not typically a problem for Fire Districts, but can sometimes be an issue for Village fire companies and certainly for independent fire companies that contract with a Town. We have often seen where fire companies make changes to the point system without the Town (and sometimes Village) knowing. Therefore, the sponsoring political subdivision should make sure to at least review the listing submitted by the fire company each year to ensure nothing has changed, and the points are being tabulated in accordance with the latest Point System adopted by that political subdivision.
Sharing my thoughts and insights on LOSAP, and occasionally other topics.