Opinion 91-4


This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.


FIRE DISTRICTS -- Apparatus and Equipment (transfer of by village to joint fire district without consideration)
VILLAGES -- Powers and Duties (transfer of firefighting equipment to joint fire district without consideration)
CONSTITUTIONAL LAW -- Gifts and Loans (transfer by village of firefighting equipment to joint fire district without consideration)

TOWN LAW, §189-b; STATE CONSTITUTION, ARTICLE VIII, §1: A village board may authorize the conveyance of village firefighting apparatus, for nominal or no consideration, to a newly-formed joint fire district which includes the village.

We are in receipt of your letter asking whether fire apparatus of a village could be transferred, for nominal or no consideration, to a newly-formed joint fire district which would include the village. You state that obligations issued by the village to finance several pieces of the apparatus are still outstanding.

Article 11-A of the Town Law (§189-a, et seq.) contains provisions relative to the establishment of joint fire districts in towns and villages. Section 189-b of article 11-A relates to the sale or transfer of a village firehouse, land and firefighting apparatus and equipment to a joint fire district. That section provides, in part, as follows:

The board of trustees of a village ... all of the territory of which is embraced within the boundaries of a joint fire district ... may by resolution authorize the sale or transfer of ... fire apparatus and fire equipment owned by such village ... to said joint fire district with or without consideration and upon such terms and conditions as to such board of trustees ... may deem fitting and proper. [Emphasis added].

Thus, pursuant to section 189-b, a village board may authorize the transfer of village firefighting apparatus, for nominal or no consideration, to a newly-formed joint fire district which includes the village (see also Comereski v City of Elmira, 308 NY 248).

As suggested in your letter, after the formation of the joint fire district, the village must still pay principal and interest on its outstanding obligations issued to purchase firefighting apparatus. As noted, section 189-b authorizes a village board of trustees to transfer village firefighting apparatus to a joint fire district either with or without consideration, and upon terms and conditions deemed fitting and proper. Therefore, in determining whether to transfer, without consideration, apparatus purchased with the proceeds of outstanding obligations, the village board may wish to take into account the village's continuing responsibility to pay interest and principal on the obligations.

March 18, 1991
Jack L. Cottet, Chief of Fire Department
Village of Cleveland