What is the Civil Service Status of a Secretary to the Fire District??
Section 35 of the Civil Service Law provides in relevant part, as follows:
“The unclassified service shall comprise the following:
(c) all officers and employees of the state legislature, and all officers and employees of any other legislative body whose principal functions and duties are directly related to the performance of the legislative functions of such body.”
Under this standard, if fire district boards of commissioners are considered legislative bodies, the fire district secretary, as a fire district officer whose principal duties relate closely to the commissioners’ functions, would fall within the unclassified service. The question then becomes whether the board of fire commissioners is to be considered a legislative body for purposes of the Civil Service Law.
It is well established that the unclassified service is not limited to employees of the State Legislature, but includes employees of the legislative bodies of civil subdivisions of the State and Fire districts are considered political subdivisions of the State. Fire Districts fall under the category of “district corporation” which is defined in the following way:
“A ‘district corporation’ includes any territorial division of the state, other than a municipal corporation, heretofore or hereafter established by law which possesses the power to contract indebtedness and levy taxes or benefit assessments upon real estate or to require the levy of such taxes or assessments, whether or not such territorial division is expressly declared to be a body corporate and politic by the statute creating or authorizing the creation of such territorial division.
Fire district commissioners are elected by residents of the fire district pursuant to section 175 of the Town Law. The powers and duties of a fire district fire commissioners are set forth in section 176 of the Town Law. Among these is the power to organize, operate, maintain and equip fire companies; to adopt rules governing all fire companies and fire departments throughout the district, and prescribing the duties of the members; to enforce discipline and provide for public drills, parades, funerals, inspections and reviews of the fire district fire department; and to audit all claims against the fire district. Thus, the commissioners are the sole governing body of the fire district, responsible for the determination of fire department policy. They exercise their powers separately and discretely from the town board. In our opinion, these functions make the board of fire commissioners a legislative body for purposes of section 35 of the Civil Service Law.
The fire district secretary actively participates in the commissioner’s legislative functions, thus in the opinion of the NYS Attorney General, the secretary’s principal functions and duties relate to the legislative functions of the commissioners, placing the secretary in the unclassified service within the meaning of section 35 of the Civil Service Law.
Accordingly, we conclude that fire district secretary is a member of the unclassified civil service.
Today’s Challenge is tomorrow’s Opportunity
Fall Winter Virtual Educational Series
An Educational Series for Commissioner, Secretaries & Treasurers
Unfortunately COVID-19 forced us to cancel both the Annual Meeting and the Leadership Summit & Vendor Show. In true First Responder spirit, the AFDSNY has accepted the Challenge and created a new Opportunity to connect with and serve the Fire Districts of New York State.
As an alternative to our regular conference we are hosting a series of virtual educational sessions from October 2020 through March 2021!
Don’t miss the first session
Annual & Special Elections
Monday, September 21 at 4:30pm
Register as an individual or register up to 7 people for the entire FIRE DISTRICT for a reduced fee!
Full Registrations include all 15+ sessions
No Worries if you miss one, all registrants automatically receive a video link good for 30 day from the session date to watch at your convenience
Select Session Registration – select and pay for only the sessions you are interested in.
Register before 9/27 for Early Bird Rates!
Early Bird rates:
Individual Full Package $110
Individual Select Sessions $15 per session
Fire District Full package $500
Fire District Select Sessions $50 per session
Go Here to Register: https://www.afdsny.org/virtual_fall_winter_educationa.php
Local Government (Fire District) Accounting Class from OSC
2020 GOVERNMENTAL ACCOUNTING CLASS SCHEDULE FROM OSC
Register for Accounting Schools Now!
Cost: $85 for local officials and government employees including Fire District treasurers, commissioners
Introduction to Governmental Accounting (Basic Accounting School) – This multi-day school is designed to familiarize participants with the basic concepts of governmental accounting and give them a working knowledge of basic bookkeeping procedures such as understanding debits and credits, a discussion of the modified accrual system of accounting, the practice of maintaining the books and records, developing and accounting for the annual budget, as well as the year-end closing process. This school is for those individuals who possess some accounting experience, but are newcomers to governmental accounting in New York. It will benefit Chief Executive Officers, Chief Fiscal Officers, Comptrollers, Treasurers, Clerks, and Accounting Personnel.
October 14-16, 2020– Online
October 27-29, 2020– Online
Accounting Principles and Procedures (Advanced Accounting School) – This multi-day school is designed to familiarize participants with accounting and financial reporting requirements for local governments in New York. The course provides guidance on certain operational issues, such as cash management, purchasing, processing claims for payment, accounting for capital projects and utilizing reserve funds. This school is a good follow-up to our Introduction course, although attending the Introduction is not a prerequisite. It will benefit Chief Executive Officers, Chief Fiscal Officers, Comptrollers, Treasurers, Clerks, Accounting Personnel, Board Members and Department Heads.
September 29-30, 2020– Online
November 17-18, 2020– Online
Please share with your Board Members. All local officials are welcome to attend.
Upcoming ESIP Training Webinars – – Please Share
Wednesday, Sept. 9th: All Hazards Planning, 7:00 pm
Description: As emergency services providers, we spend over 70% of our training time on calls that make up less than 2% of our call volumes. Join Dave Denniston and Tom Miller as we discuss methods your organization should utilize to plan for the less frequent calls that have similar characteristics and make up a great percentage of our total runs.
Wednesday, Sept. 16th: Building Construction & Inspections 7:00pm
Description: Join us as we explore and begin to understand how things are put together and what we need to look for as first responders.
Wednesday, Sept. 23rd: Public Education Strategies 7:00pm
Description: Public Fire Education is more than just doing school programs for kids. Join Dave Denniston and guests as we look at ways to get your fire prevention messages out to a wider audience. We will also look at options to continue your important delivery during the current pandemic.
Wednesday, Sept. 30th: Fundraising Strategies for Fire and EMS Services
Description: The current pandemic has brought concerns and challenges to emergency response agencies that rely on fund raising to complete their financial needs. Join Dave Denniston and guests as we explore some of the advantages and pitfalls of both traditional and non-traditional fund raising activities.
Wednesday, Oct. 7th: Fire and EMS Diversity and Inclusion
Description: Diversity and Inclusion are two topics we hear a lot in this country today. But what does that mean for fire and ems agencies? In this session we will explore ways to capitalize on the diversity in both your own organization and the community you protect. We will also look at common problems for agencies that fail to except and embrace it.
Legislative Wrap Up to Date
It’s unknown if the Legislature will come back into session. Bills will continue to be introduced as we proceed toward this year’s elections.
Fire Service Wrap Up of the Session to Date: 2020 wrap up
AFDSNY Cancels Annual Meeting and Expo in Niagara Falls
After extensive consideration and discussion, the Board of Directors of the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York has determined that the 2020 Annual Meeting/Leadership Summit & Vendor Expo is hereby cancelled. We have worked closely with the Conference & Event Center at Niagara Falls as well as the Sheraton and have determined that the current health concerns and gathering restrictions in place due to COVID-19 prohibits us from moving forward with this event for 2020.
Our Program Committee and Staff have been working on a Virtual Alternative! A Fall/Winter Educational series, “Today’s Challenge is Tomorrow’s Opportunity” Moving Fire Districts forward in the age of COVID-19. Watch your email for registration information coming soon.
If you have already registered for Niagara Falls, the Association will be sending out full refunds by the end of August. If you you made a hotel reservation using the link provided in your confirmation email, the Sheraton Hotel will automatically cancel your reservation. If you did not use the link provided you will need to contact the Hotel directly do cancel your reservation.
Along with our Educational Series we will also be opening a Virtual Adventure Vendor Expo on our website. Our Expo will be open to the public from the front page of our website, it will remain open until March 2021! So, watch for updates and come check out our VENDORS!
The health and safety of our Members, Vendors, Directors, Officers and Staff are of the utmost importance to us. We look forward to seeing everyone at our 2021 Annual Meeting / Leadership Summit & Vendor Expo at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in May of 2021. Until then we wish everyone good health and safety.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact us at 800-520-9594
August 2020 Update to the Legislative Scorecard
Legislation that affects Fire Districts, several new bills you need to know about!! Keeps tabs, more to come.
Tax Cap Below 2% for 2021
Property tax levy growth for local governments with fiscal years closing Dec. 31 will be capped at 1.56 percent for 2021, according to State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli. This figure affects tax cap calculations for all counties, towns, fire districts, 44 cities and 11 villages.
“The pandemic and the fiscal uncertainties municipalities are facing add to the challenge of adhering to the tax cap,” DiNapoli said. “At the same time the levy growth rate is dropping, both revenues and spending could deviate significantly from what was planned. Local governments must closely monitor their budgets to ensure they are balanced and that they have cash on hand.”
The tax cap, which first applied to local governments and school districts in 2012, limits annual tax levy increases to the lesser of the rate of inflation or 2 percent with certain exceptions, including a provision that allows municipalities to override it. The cap is just one of many fiscal pressures facing local governments during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 1.56 percent allowable levy growth factor for the 2021 fiscal year is the first-time municipalities with a fiscal year ending on Dec. 31 had their levy growth capped at less than 2 percent in three years. Levy growth was capped at 2 percent for these municipalities due to inflation above 2 percent in recent years.
The allowable growth factor for 2021 will be 1.0156 for fire districts.
Looking for Members to Return
- The Capital Area can appreciate that it has been a very distracting year and we would like to remind some of our usual members that their dues have not been sent in yet; East Glenville #3, Elsmere, Glenville #5, Halfmoon FD #1, Hoosic Falls Joint Fire Dist., Perth, & Rotterdam #6. We would like to see you join for 2020.
State Fire Training to Resume
- Bill Davis Deputy State Fire Administrator announced on behalf of State Fire Administrator Nerney, “I’m pleased to announce that we are ready to begin regional training on a limited basis. Counties will be contacted by OFPC staff in the coming days to begin the planning process. The policies and procedures that we have all become familiar with will need to be in place for county level training to be conducted. Our initial focus will be to complete those courses that were postponed due to NY PAUSE. Class size along with other engineering controls will dictate the rate of completion as some classes my need to be split as a result of distancing requirements. As a result, course offerings for the remainder 2020 may be limited and may not reflect what had been previously planned for each county. As always our office will continue an open dialogue and work with each county to the greatest extent possible to meet their 2020 training needs.”
The CoVid LOSAP Amendment has been Signed Into Law
SUMMARY OF PROVISIONS: Section 1 amends General Municipal Law § 217 relation to Length of Service Award Programs ("LOSAP's") in order to address the impact of the COVID 19 crisis on the ability of volunteer firefighter participants to achieve performance points under the program point system in light of changes to emergency response protocols and the cancellation of activ- ities for which points can be earned. Adds a new subparagraph (q) to address developments in how volunteer fire departments respond to emergencies in order to limit certain responses for reasons of safety and efficiency. Makes subsequent amend- ments to GML 219-e and 219-m, to allow volunteer ambulance workers to achieve performance points under the program.
Coffee With the Commissioners
Next opportunity will be on Saturday July 18th at 9am Join Director Dave Denniston, Attorney Joe Frank and Past President Tom Rinaldi What would you like to talk about, questions welcome.