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February, 20, 2007

 

Comptroller DiNapoli Proposes Training
Regulations for Fire District Officials

New Legislation Requires Financial Management
Training for Fire District Commissioners

State Comptroller Thomas P. DiNapoli has released proposed regulations regarding the new training requirements for fire district commissioners.

The training regulations are in response to new laws enacted in 2006 to strengthen oversight of fire districts and fire companies in New York State. The regulations require that all fire district commissioners get at least six hours of training on their responsibilities within 270 days of taking office. The Office of the State Comptroller (OSC) is responsible for developing the regulations for the training requirement. The public has 45 days to comment on the proposed regulations.

“New York fire districts and companies provide a vital service to New Yorkers. They are also responsible for managing more than $1 billion of taxpayer money, and our auditors have uncovered a number of troubling details over the years regarding unchecked spending and other financial oversight problems at fire districts,” DiNapoli said. “These new laws and the training requirement will fundamentally reform how these entities operate and will ensure better management of public funds. I applaud Local Government Committee Chairs Senator Elizabeth Little and Assemblyman Robert Sweeney, as well as the Association of Towns, FASNY and the Association of Fire Districts for coming together and developing practical solutions to address these issues.”

The regulations issued detail how an organization or individual receives approval from OSC to offer a training course and what that training course content must include, such as information on fire district management, travel procedures and policies, procurement and disposition of fire district assets, internal controls, detection of fraud and abuse, conflicts of interest and ethics.

The legislation also requires fire districts to hold annual budget hearings, adopt a code of ethics, and comply with new requirements for establishing capital reserve funds and for paying travel expenses. Fire districts with revenues of more than $200,000 will also be required to obtain an annual independent audit through a competitive process and limit the audit contract to five years. In November, OSC released a model request for proposals to help fire districts select an auditor.

OSC is hosting a live teleconference on March 8 in cooperation with the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York on understanding the new legislative requirements. The teleconference will be broadcast to more than 50 sites around the state. The training runs from 6:30 p.m. to 8:45 p.m.

Click here for additional information on this teleconference or to comment on the training regulations, as well as get answers to frequently asked questions on the new legislation.


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