Opinion 96 - 1


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 The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.

BONDS AND NOTES -- State Comptroller Approval (necessity for in Adirondack Park fire district)

FIRE DISTRICTS -- Powers and Duties (purchase of real property - need for State Comptroller approval in Adirondack Park)

MUNICIPAL FUNDS -- Capital Reserve Fund (necessity for State Comptroller approval in Adirondack fire district)

REAL PROPERTY -- Purchase (need for State Comptroller approval in Adirondack Park fire district)

STATE COMPTROLLER -- Approval by (for expenditure from capital reserve fund by fire district in Adirondack Park); (for issuance of obligations by fire district in Adirondack Park)

TOWN LAW, §176(14); LOCAL FINANCE LAW, §104.10(6); GENERAL MUNICIPAL LAW, §6-g(13): If the moneys necessary to fund the purchase of real property by a fire district are to be provided from a capital reserve fund, or by the issuance of bonds, bond anticipation notes, capital notes or budget notes, and the fire district is situated wholly or partly within a town which is wholly or partly within the Adirondack Park and has within the town boundaries State lands assessed at more than 10% of the total assessed valuation of the town, the prior consent of the State Comptroller will be required for the expenditure of the reserve fund moneys or the issuance of the obligations by the fire district. Expenditures of current moneys by such a fire district for the purchase of real property would not be subject to consent of the State Comptroller.

You ask whether approval of the State Comptroller is required prior to the purchase of real property by a fire district located within the Adirondack Park.

Town Law, §176(14) authorizes fire districts to purchase real property for the preservation, protection and storing of fire apparatus and equipment, for the social and recreational use of firefighters and residents of the district and for any other purpose authorized by law (see also Town Law, §179[1][c]). Section 176 does not require the State Comptroller to approve purchases of real property by any fire district. The means by which certain fire districts within the Adirondack Park provide funds for the purchase of real property may, however, be subject to the consent of the State Comptroller.

General Municipal Law, §6-g governs the establishment of capital reserve funds by fire districts and the expenditure of moneys therefrom. Under subdivision 13 of section 6-g, the consent of the State Comptroller is required for the establishment of, and the appropriation of moneys from, capital reserve funds in those fire districts situated wholly or partly in a town which is wholly or partly within the Adirondack Park and has, within the town boundaries, State land assessed at more than 10% of the total assessed valuation of the town, as determined from the assessment rolls of the town. Similarly, pursuant to Local Finance Law, §104.10(6), no fire district meeting those criteria may issue bonds, bond anticipation notes, capital notes or budget notes unless the State Comptroller, on behalf of the State, consents thereto. There is no analogous consent requirement if current budget moneys of a fire district are expended.

Accordingly, if the moneys necessary to fund the purchase of real property by a fire district are to be provided from a capital reserve fund, or by the issuance of bonds, bond anticipation notes, capital notes or budget notes, and the fire district is situated wholly or partly within a town which is wholly or partly within the Adirondack Park and has within the town boundaries State lands assessed at more than 10% of the total assessed valuation of the town, the prior consent of the State Comptroller will be required for the expenditure of the reserve fund moneys or the issuance of the obligations by the fire district. Expenditures of current moneys by such a fire district for the purchase of real property would not be subject to consent of the State Comptroller.

May 17, 2000
Daniel T. Smith, Esq., Attorney for the Fire District
Indian Lake Fire District No. 2