LOSAP – Preparing for 2021
Anyone who works (or volunteers) in local government understands lines and boundaries. One side of the street pays taxes and receives services from one municipality, and the other side, a different one. Ultimately, at 12:00 AM on January 1, 2021 we cross a boundary into a new calendar year. This means many things – some practical and literal, and some that are just plain emotional. The challenges we all faced in 2020, and continue to face today, will persist into 2021. However, the resilience and perseverance we all developed in 2020 will as well and, for that, we’re encouraged about 2021.
As we look forward to the reporting that must be done in 2021, we thought it would be helpful to send a reminder regarding several year-end items, which include some updates and changes:
- At Firefly Admin, we call the steps that the municipality and fire department must take at the conclusion of each calendar year the Census Update Process. In early December, our clients were sent the instructions, forms, and roster by email and ShareFile. If you did not receive it, please contact us immediately.
- Although this is a good practice for all years, for the 2020 points year specifically, we recommend that the municipality request that the list of points earned by volunteers show the detail by category. In particular, if your municipality adopted a resolution to award additional points during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important for the municipality to review the COVID-19 points to ensure they were awarded consistently with the resolution adopted by the Board. These additional COVID-19 points should be awarded uniformly to all active members, and only those who were active members during the municipally-designated COVID-19 period.
- If your municipality has not yet adopted a resolution regarding COVID-19 points, it has until April 30, 2021 to do so. We have a lot of information on our blog, which you can reference here: www.fireflyadmin.com/blog/category/covid19/
- The IRS has made changes to the 1099-MISC form, and released a new form called the 1099-NEC. We engaged an attorney with specific expertise with the Internal Revenue Code and tax forms, and we’ve confirmed that the 1099-MISC remains the most appropriate form to report LOSAP payments. By law, these forms must be postmarked by January 31, 2021, which means your participants will receive them by the end of January or possibly early February. If a participant needs their tax form sooner, please contact our office and we’ll see what options are available to provide the form earlier.
- Payments from a New York State LOSAP are largely exempt from New York State income tax, but some exclusions apply! The taxpayer must be over age 59 ½ and the payment must not be a lump sum. Read more at www.fireflyadmin.com/NYSTAX/.
The State recently released a bulletin regarding the reporting of fiduciary activities as required by GASB Statement 84. This changes how LOSAP assets are reported on the Annual Update Document (AUD). On page 7 of the bulletin is a paragraph about the LOSAP assets, and it includes a sentence that requires future LOSAP payable amounts that meet the GASB’s definition of a liability to be reported a certain way. Your treasurer should be proactive about reaching out to your external auditor or the Office of the State Comptroller for guidance regarding the implementation of these changes in reporting the LOSAP assets and payables. You can read the bulletin here: https://www.osc.state.ny.us/files/local-government/publications/pdf/accounting-and-financial-reporting-for-fiduciary-activities-gasb-84.pdf
[Thanks to Firefly Admin one of our business partners for providing this information to our fire districts]
Fire District – LGS-1 Records Retention Schedule
We want to thank Secretary/Treasurer Joyce Petkus for sharing the new LGS-1 records management schedule especially for fire districts with us. Attached below are two different formats of the same document one by item the other by section headings. The LGS-1 is to be adopted by the Board of Fire Commissioners by January 1. Also attached is a model resolution.
Cancer Coverage Expanded to Exterior Firefighters
The Hartford Insurance Company has received approval from the NYS Department of Financial Services for modifications to the NY Contract extending coverage to firefighters other than interior firefighters. The only notable difference is the modification to the definition of firefighter. There is still a basic and enhanced plan with broader definition of cancer included. See the attached document: Interior-Exterior FF Coverage NY
Reminder for the Enhanced Cancer Benefit Program – Documents Due
Click on this link to open the document:
The 2021 Officers of the Capital Area Association
Association of Fire Districts of the Capital Area 2021 Officers
President: Tom Rinaldi, Commissioner Stillwater/Saratoga
1st VP: Jill Wiseman, Commissioner West Glenville/Schenectady
2nd VP: John Meehan, Commissioner West Crescent/Saratoga
All Directors have been nominated to retain their positions for another term:
Directors: Les Bonesteel Commissioner Burnt Hills/Saratoga, Tom Wood Commissioner Northumberland/Saratoga, Joyce Petkus Treasurer Greenfield/Saratoga, Ed Woehrle Commissioner Niskayuna #1/Schenectady and Mike Podolec Commissioner West Glenville/Schenectady
The Secretary Treasurer and the Sargent at Arms will be appointed by the officers and directors with the approval of members present at the March 2021 meeting.
Legislation Suggested by Commissioner Signed by the Governor
Audit Bill Signed, Suggested by Commissioner Truman Williams of the Trenton Joint Fire District in Oneida Co.
The Audit limit bill introduced this legislative session has been signed by the governor. This is effective immediately. So if you are over $300,000 for 2020 you will not have to have an audit in 2021 or any year after that as long as you stay under $400,000. Thank you to Assemblyman Smulle for his initial meeting and Poland Fire Districts; Bill Inman for writing up the case study. Thank you, Assemblywomen Buttenshoen and Senator Joe Griffo for their assistance with this. A huge shout out to Past President of Fire Districts Tom Rinaldi and the Fire District lobbyist Todd Vandervort for pushing this across the finish line.
Support the Volunteer Departments in Your Area
Warrensburg Volunteer Fire Company Chicken BBQ, Warren County
Warrensburg Fire Company
Take Out Only!
Famous Chicken BBQ
Saturday October 3, 2020
Serving Time: 4:00 p.m.
Warrensburg Firehouse 18 Elm Street
Warrensburg, New York
Call 518-623-9766 for Reservations
$12.00 per Dinner
Quaker Springs Volunteer Fire Company Benefit Chicken BBQ, Saratoga County
Quaker Springs FD is hosting a BENEFIT Chicken BBQ
Sunday, October 4 from Noon until sold out.
The barbecue is a benefit for Seven Year Member, Dalton Lago’s medical expenses associated with recent motorcycle crash.
Lago’s father, Chris Lago is the Chairmen of the Quaker Springs Fire District Board of Fire Commissioners.
The barbecue will be held at QSFD Station #1 67 Blodgett Road Schuylerville.
Cost is $15. Take-outs only.
The menu will be a half chicken, potato, beans, cole slaw and a dessert.
Johnsonville Fire Department Chicken & Chowder, Rensselaer County
Saturday October 10,2020, 4:30 to 6:30
5 River Road, Johnsonville
This is a drive through event only, RESERVATIONS REQUIRED BY OCTOBER 2ND CALL 518-858-0684
Barbecue, ½ Chicken, mac salad, coleslaw, vegetable, roll, desert $12.00 per dinner
Manhattan Style Clam Chowder 16oz $4.00
Please help are friends from Station 19 who depends on the Schaghticoke Fair as a major revenue generator. With the Fair being cancelled, this is an event to offset the loss.
Benefit Ziti and Meatball Dinner…Maplewood Fire Department, Albany County
Saturday November 7th from 3 to 8PM
61 Cohoes Road, Watervliet NY
$15 , ziti & meatballs, salad & dressing, bread and dessert
BENEFIT for Past Chief Glen Roberts Sr who is battling ALS – Low Gehrig’ s Disease
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.
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.
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.
Fire Service Legislation Included in Budget Bill
Items of interest to the Fire Service in the Budget Bill signed by the Governor
- The Heart and Lung provisions of the VFBL will be extended until 2025.
- Amendment to the Vehicle and Traffic Law to allow amber and blue lights on safety service patrol vehicles when engaged in hazardous operations in conjunction with amber lights.
- Amendments to the 205cc Cancer Disability Benefits: removing the language re: physical examination upon entering and replacing it with simply subsequent to having passed a physical exam with failed to reveal evidence of cancer, plus in place of the 5 fit tests a firefighter can present training or certification records, health care provider records, internal fire department records or any combination of official documents capable of evidencing that the firefighter meets the requirements of this section.
- For services and expenses related to suicide prevention efforts for veterans, first responders, law enforcement and corrections officers; 1,000,000.
LOSAP Amendment Makes Adjustments for CoVid19
LOSAP Amendment GML §217 & Makes subsequent amendments to GML 219-e and 219-m, to allow volunteer ambulance workers to achieve performance points under the program.
(p) For purposes of determining total points earned for a calendar year in which a state disaster emergency, as defined in section twenty of the executive law, has been declared pursuant to executive order number two hundred two of two thousand twenty, as amended, to address the outbreak of novel coronavirus, COV/D-19, an active volunteer firefighter service award program may provide for the crediting of up to five additional points per month, prorated for periods of less than one month, to each ·active volunteer firefighter for each month that special emergency response rules were in place restricting firefighter responses to emergency responses and/or restricting the holding of activities for which points could be earned due to guidelines related to the state disaster emergency. A political subdivision electing to provide the additional points authorized under this subdivision shall adopt a resolution by April thirtieth, two thousand twenty-one determining the number of additional points to be credited per month, provided that any additional points credited pursuant to this subdivision shall be in addition to any other points earned pursuant to this section during the state , disaster emergency.