Opinion 94 - 8


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 The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.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 -- Deputy Treasurer (qualifications for office)

PUBLIC OFFICERS AND EMPLOYEES -- Deputy (need to meet qualification for principal office) - - Eligibility (deputy fire district treasurer)

TOWN LAW, 177-b; PUBLIC OFFICERS LAW, 9: In order to qualify for appointment as deputy treasurer of a fire district, an individual must meet the same requirements as those applicable to the fire district treasurer.

You ask what are the qualifications for appointment to the office of fire district deputy treasurer.

Town Law, 177-b provides that the board of fire commissioners of any fire district may appoint a deputy fire district treasurer to hold office until the thirty-first day of December following his or her appointment. During the absence or inability to act of the treasurer, or during a vacancy in the office of treasurer, the deputy is vested with all of the powers and may perform all of the duties of the treasurer (see also Public Officers Law, 9).

Section 177-b expressly provides that the deputy must give and file an official undertaking in accordance with Town Law, 176(4) (see also Town Law, 174[3]), but does not specify any other qualifications for office. We have previously concluded, however, that since a deputy acts in the case of absence, inability to act or vacancy in the office of the principal officer, the deputy is a public officer and, as such, must meet all the general qualifications for holding public office (see, e.g., 1971 Opns St Comp No. 71-139, unreported; 1970 Opns St Comp No. 70-443, unreported). For the same reason, it is also our view that, unless otherwise provided by law, qualifications established specifically for the principal would also apply to the deputy position. The qualifications, in the case of a fire district treasurer, include having attained the age of 18, being a U.S. citizen, taking and filing an oath of office and, unless no qualified resident is willing to perform the duties, being a resident of the fire district (Town Law, 174[3], [4]; Public Officers Law, 3, 10).

In addition, we believe the disqualifications for office which apply to a fire district treasurer would also apply to a deputy treasurer (see 1986 Opns Atty Gen (Inf) 86-30, applying the principles of incompatibility of office to a deputy). Thus, for example, a fire commissioner and a person convicted of arson may not be appointed deputy treasurer (Town Law, 174[4], [5]).

Accordingly, in order to qualify for appointment as deputy treasurer of a fire district, an individual must meet the same requirements as those applicable to the treasurer.

July 8, 1994
Joseph Cherepowich, Secretary
East Marion Fire District