The LGS-1 Replaces the Current Records Management Schedule
State Secretary/Treasurer Joyce Petkus has provided us with the new LGS-1 records management schedule with section headings particularly for Fire Districts. Also is a model resolution to be adopted by the Board prior to using the new schedule. This should be a great help to the records retention managers for each fire district.
Organized by Section Headings
Fire Districts had until January 1 2021 to adopt the new schedule by resolution of the Board, don’t use the new schedule until it is officially adopted.
NYSVFB Cancer Coverage Offered to Exterior Firefighters
The definition of Eligible Volunteer Firefighter has been amended to:
- a volunteer interior firefighter who:
- has five or more years of faithful and actual service in the protection of life and property from fire subsequent to having successfully passed a physical examination which failed to reveal any evidence of Cancer; and
- has submitted or is able to submit proof of five years of interior firefighting service by providing verification that he/she has passed at least five yearly certified mask fitting tests as set forth in 29 CFR 1910.134 or the applicable National Fire Protection Association Standards for Mask Fit testing or, for firefighters who entered fire service prior to January first, two thousand twenty documentation identified by the office of fire prevention and control in rules and regulations promulgated pursuant to subdivision seven of this section which shall include, but not be limited to, 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 afore mentioned requirements
NEW: Exterior Firefighter Definition
- a volunteer exterior firefighter who has five or more years of faithful and actual service in the protection of life and property from fire subsequent to having successfully passed a physical examination which failed to reveal any evidence of Cancer.
This definition does not include any firefighter who is provided paid firefighter benefits under the New York State Volunteer Firefighter Enhanced Cancer Disability Benefits Act.
The Coverages are here, copy and Paste into your browser:
Open Meeting Law Suspension Extended Until February 26th
OPEN MEETING LAW SUSPENSION EXTENDED TO February 26, 2021 FROM AFDSNY ATTORNEY JOE FRANK
As you commence the process of holding your Annual Organization Meeting and Meetings for January, this will advise that the Governor has confirmed the extension of the authority to hold remote meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Please read the following:
OPEN MEETING LAW SUSPENSION EXTENDED TO February 26th, 2021
Executive Order No. 202.87 dated December 30, 2020 has extended the suspension of Open Meeting Law rules to permit remote methods of conducting meetings for local government boards until January 29, 2021. Governor Cuomo noted the following in this Executive Order:
IN ADDITION, Governor of the State of New York, by virtue of the authority vested in me by Section 29-a of Article 2-B of the Executive Law to temporarily suspend or modify any statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or parts thereof, of any agency during a State disaster emergency, if compliance with such statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation would prevent, hinder, or delay action necessary to cope with the disaster emergency or if necessary to assist or aid in coping with such disaster, or to provide any directive necessary to respond to the disaster, do hereby continue the suspensions and modifications of law, and any directives not superseded by a subsequent directive, contained in Executive Orders 202 up to and including 202.21, and 202.27, 202.28, 202.29, 202.30, 202.31, 202.38, 202.39, 202.40, 202.41, 202.42, 202.43, 202.48, 202.49, 202.50, 202.51, 202.52, 202.55, 202.55.1, 202.56, 202.60, 202.61, 202.62, 202.63, 202.67, 202.68, 202.72, as continued and contained in Executive Order 202.79 for another thirty days through January 29, 2021
Please keep in mind that this series of Executive Orders do not require a Board of Fire Commissioners to conduct a board meeting remotely.
It permits the Board to conduct a remote meeting or a live meeting with proper precautions (health screening, facemasks, social distancing, cleaning and disinfecting, etc.). Boards can also conduct a combination live and remote meeting where some participants are present at the meeting room and others are remote. If any aspect of the meeting will be remote in order to permit a member(s) of the Board of Fire Commissioners to participate remotely and be part of the meeting quorum, the information on how to gain remote access must be placed in the meeting legal notice, the meeting must be audio recorded and a transcript of the audio recording must be created and maintained.
In light of the continuing COVID-19 crisis and rising infection rates throughout the state it is anticipated that the Governor will continue to extend this remote meeting authority for several more months.
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.
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.
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
NOVEMBERE 2020 Update to the Legislative Scorecard
Legislation that affects Fire Districts, several new bills you need to know about!! Keeps tabs, more to come.