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.
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.
Governor’s Executive Order Regarding Provision of Face Masks to Employees
Executive Order: Executive Order 202.16, issued on April 12, 2020, provides the following directive:
For all essential businesses or entities (which includes Fire Departments), any employees who are present in the workplace shall be provided and shall wear face coverings when in direct contact with customers or members of the public. Businesses must provide, at their expense, such face coverings for their employees. This provision may be enforced by local governments or local law enforcement as if it were an order pursuant to section 12 or 12-b of the Public Health Law. This requirement shall be effective Wednesday, April 15 at 8 p.m.
Guidance: Essential businesses, as well as state and local government agencies and authorities, must procure, fashion, or otherwise obtain face coverings and provide such coverings to employees who directly interact with the public during the course of their work at no-cost to the employee.
- Businesses are deemed essential by the Empire State Development Corporation (ESD), pursuant to the authority provided in Executive Order 202.6. Please visit the ESD website for specific information on essential businesses. For the purpose of this guidance, essential businesses shall also provide face coverings to contractors, including independent contractors.
- Face coverings include, but are not limited to, cloth (e.g. homemade sewn, quick cut, bandana), surgical masks, N-95 respirators, and face shields. Please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)” website for information on cloth face covers and other types of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as instructions on use and cleaning.
- Direct interaction with the public shall be determined by the employer, but, at a minimum, shall include any employee who is routinely within close contact (i.e. six feet or less) with members of the public, including but not limited to customers or clients.
- Employees are allowed to use their own face coverings, but shall not be mandated to do so by their employer. Further, this guidance shall not prevent employees from wearing more protective coverings (e.g. surgical masks, N-95 respirators, or face shields) if the individual is already in possession of such PPE, or if the employer otherwise requires employees to wear more protective PPE due to the nature of their work (e.g. healthcare).
- Employees are required to wear face coverings when in direct contact with members of the public, except where doing so would inhibit or otherwise impair the employee’s health. Employers are prohibited from requesting or requiring medical or other documentation from an employee who declines to wear a face covering due to a medical or other health condition that prevents such usage.
- Employees who are unable to wear face coverings and are susceptible to COVID-19 based on the “Matilda’s Law” criteria (i.e. individuals who are 70 years of age or older, individuals with compromised immune systems, and individuals with underlying illnesses) should consult with their employer to consider reasonable accommodations, including but not limited to different PPE, alternate work location, or alternate work assignment with fewer interactions with the public. Employers should work with their employees to see if they can be accommodated to ensure the employee can continue to deliver essential services in the safest manner possible.
- If an employer is unable to procure, fashion, or otherwise obtain face coverings for their employees, they may consult with their local office of emergency management to determine if extra supplies exist within the municipality for this purpose and, if so, they may submit a request for face coverings. Please note that quantities are extremely limited and are prioritized for health care workers and first responders. Not being able to source face coverings does not relieve an employer’s obligation to provide such face coverings to their employees.
- Nothing in this guidance shall supercede the respiratory protection equipment requirements set forth by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Interim Guidance for Fire Service Agencies from OFPC
Please see the attached document on Interim Guidance for Fire Service Agencies from OFPC:
COVID19 and HIPPA: Disclosures to First Responders and Public Health Authorities
See guidance from: covid-19-hipaa-and-first-responders-508
Cleaning and Disinfecting 3M Scott Facepieces
See the information provided by Scott: CleaningandDisinfectingScott
Will VFBL Cover a COVID19 Exposure?
- In addition to other sources the Saratoga County self-insurance program; VFBL and VAWBL will be covering confirmed (“documented”) covid19 exposures, all claims should be thoroughly investigated and documented. The issue of indemnity payments for individuals quarantined is an interesting one. They further stated that if the quarantined period is directed by the employer without confirmation that the virus is present or if the virus is present the exposure will need to be confirmed to determine compensability. That issue will require further investigation.
- Check with your provider!!
A Resource Document from State Archives for Fire Departments
How long do I have to keep this record?
MU-1 for Fire Districts – April 2017 here are your answers!!
Health Care Provider’s Guide to Firefighter Physicals
This is an excellent resource from the International Association of Fire Chiefs.