Opinion 94 - 11


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 The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.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 -- Appropriations and Expenditures (celebration of district fire department's anniversary)

TOWN LAW, 176-d: A board of fire commissioners of a fire district generally may not expend district funds in connection with a celebration of the district fire department's anniversary. The district may, however, expend funds pursuant to Town Law, 176-d if the anniversary celebration of the fire department consists of a dinner and coincides with the annual inspection dinner for the fire company or companies within the district.

You have inquired whether a board of fire commissioners of a fire district may expend fire district funds in connection with a celebration of the district fire department's anniversary. You refer in your letter to a prior opinion of this Office (1981 Opns St Comp No. 81-196, p 209) and ask if that opinion still reflects our views.

In the cited opinion, we were asked if the board of commissioners of a fire district could expend district funds to conduct an anniversary celebration of the district. We noted that fire district funds may be expended only as expressly or impliedly permitted by statute (see also 1983 Opns St Comp No. 83-15, p 15; 27 Opns St Comp, 1971, p 170) and concluded that there is no statute which permits the commissioners of a fire district to expend district funds for a celebration of the anniversary of the creation of the district (compare County Law, 224; Town Law, 64[14]; General City Law, 13-b, authorizing expenditures for such celebrations in counties, towns and cities, respectively). Because of this lack of authority, we stated that such an expenditure was not permissible. We also pointed out, however, that Town Law, 176-d authorizes a fire district to include as part of its budget an appropriation to fund an annual firefighter's inspection-dinner for each fire company within the district. If the anniversary celebration of the fire district consists of a dinner and coincides with the annual inspection-dinner, we further concluded that district funds could be expended pursuant to section 176-d.

The conclusions expressed in Opn No. 81-196, supra still represent the views of this Office. Moreover, the same reasoning applies to an expenditure of fire district moneys to fund an anniversary celebration of the fire district fire department. There is no express or implied authority for the fire district to expend district funds to commemorate the anniversary of the fire department. However, the district may expend funds pursuant to section 176-d if the anniversary celebration of the fire department consists of a dinner which coincides with the annual inspection dinner.

September 12, 1994
Raymond F. Concannon, Esq., Attorney at Law
North Merrick Fire District