Coffee with Commissioner’s

September 29th, 2020

The next Coffee with the Commissioners is scheduled for Saturday Morning December 5th at 9am.  Log in information is forthcoming.

Absentee Ballots and CoVid19 Annual Fire District Election

September 25th, 2020


From State Association Counsel Joe Frank

Issues related absentee ballots, mail in ballots and early voting are constantly being discussed on radio, television, on the internet and in the newspapers. Over the past few years new laws have been passed at the state and federal level in an attempt to enhance voter participation. For the most part these laws relate to the elections conducted under the state’s Election Law and conducted by the County Board of Elections. There is no early voting for fire district elections.

The ability of voters to vote by absentee ballots in elections conducted by the County Board of Elections has been modified by new laws and by executive orders.

There is currently no requirement to provide absentee ballots for the December 8th fire district elections.

However, on August 24th Governor Cuomo signed Executive Order 202.58 which addressed providing more opportunities for casting a ballot by absentee ballot. It included the following provision;

NOW THEREFORE, I, Andrew M. Cuomo, 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, do hereby suspend or modify the following through September 23, 2020:

Sections 15-120 and 15-122 of the Election Law, Sections 2018-a and 2018-b of the Education Law, and Section 84-a of the Town Law, as well as any provision of law related to a special district election taking place prior to November 3, 2020, and not administered by the County Board of Elections to the extent necessary to include the potential for contraction of the COVID-19 virus as an illness for purposes of request or receipt of an absentee ballot;

Thus, it would appear that the Governor has made absentee ballots mandatory for any special district election which occurs prior to November 3rd .

Any fire district which conducts a special election between September 15th and November 3rd will therefore be required to provide absentee ballots as outlined in the Executive Order.

As you will recall, a prior executive order had delayed all summer special district elections until September 15th .

One question that arises with regard to Executive Order 202.58 is how does a fire district holding a special election go about setting up the process to permit absentee ballot voting?

In theory, the executive order would suspend Town Law §175-b which permits, but does not require a fire district to provide for absentee voting.

It would appear that a fire district conducting a special election between September 15th and November 3rd should place a statement in the election legal notice that in accordance with Executive Order 202.58 issued by Governor Cuomo on August 24, 2020 absentee ballots will be available for registered voters of the fire district who are concerned with the spread of COVID- 19 and would like to vote by absentee ballot. The notice should also explain a process to request, obtain and return an absentee ballot.

Again, let us emphasize that as of this date no Executive Order has been issued pertaining to the fire district elections that will occur in December 8th . 

We will continue to keep you advised on developments related to this matter.

What is the Civil Service Status of a Secretary to the Fire District??

September 20th, 2020

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.

State Association Virtual Fall/Winter Educational Series Update!! Oct 29th & Nov 7th

September 20th, 2020

Todays Challenge is Tomorrow’s Opportunity

Free Webinars from the Fall Winter Series

New LGS-1 Schedule; What is it?

Have you heard?  A revised records retention schedule from State Archives is on its way!  The new LGS-1 schedule will replace the current MU-1 schedule.  Join Maria McCashion from State Archives and Joyce Petkus, AFDSNY Secretary Treasurer, as they highlight important changes in the new schedule, explain what your district will need to do to adopt the new schedule, and answer any questions you may have.

Thursday, Oct. 29 at 10:00 am

Copy and Paste the registration link:

* If you have already registered for the Fall Winter Educational Series, please disregard this notice, you will automatically receive a link for these sessions as part of your registration.


Exposure Controls: Don’t Let Your Guard Down

Join Dave Denniston as he hosts, Tim Graves from NYS DHSES Office of Fire Prevention & Control,  and Lee Price, Paramedic and Director of EMS programs at Tompkins Cortland Community College, training manager at McNeil & Company, and a retired Captain of the Cortland Fire Department.

They will discuss continued impact of Cancer & COVID-19 in the Fire Service.  Do you have the proper policies in place?  Is your District following “Best Practices”?

Thursday, Oct. 29 at 7:00 pm

Copy and Paste the registration link:

* If you have already registered for the Fall Winter Educational Series, please disregard this notice, you will automatically receive a link for these sessions as part of your registration.


Coffee with Commissioners followed by  State Association Law & Legislative Meeting

Join Dave and Joe for our regular monthly “Coffee with Commissioners” then stay with us as Law & Legislative Committee Chairman, John Wicka, convenes a meeting of the Law & Legislative committee. Joined by AFDSNY Lobbyist, Todd Vandervort, they will review all the action in Albany this past year, including the IUC Scorecard. Share the status of any pending legislation and begin planning for 2021.


Saturday, Nov. 7

Coffee with Commissioner begins at 9:00 am

Law & Legislative Meeting begins at 10:00 am

Copy and Paste the registration link:

* If you have already registered for the Fall Winter Educational Series, please disregard this notice, you will automatically receive a link for these sessions as part of your registration.

Go Here to Register:


Local Government (Fire District) Accounting Class from OSC

September 9th, 2020


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.

Available Dates:

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.

Available Dates:

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

September 9th, 2020

Weekly Webinars

Cyber Security for your Organization

Overview of strategies to protect your members and your organization in a cyber world

Nov 4, 2020 07:00 PM


Winterize Your Response

Discussion of what we should consider to ready for safe and effective response in the winter

Nov 11, 2020 07:00 PM


Safe AND Happy Holidays

Fire and Injury Prevention information for all of us during the Holiday Season

Nov 18, 2020 07:00 PM


Legislative Wrap Up to Date

August 4th, 2020

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

July 25th, 2020

Legislation that affects Fire Districts, several new bills you need to know about!!  Keeps tabs, more to come.

2020 Scorecard NOV 2020


Tax Cap Below 2% for 2021

July 17th, 2020

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

June 21st, 2020
  • 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.

The CoVid LOSAP Amendment has been Signed Into Law

June 21st, 2020
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

June 12th, 2020
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.