|Posted:||December 5, 2014 03:31 PM|
|From:||Senator Donald C. White|
|To:||All Senate members|
|Subject:||Amendment to the Fire and EMS Grant Program|
|Numerous studies have concluded the Commonwealth’s delivery of volunteer fire services is fragmented and inefficient, and many departments have identified difficulties in recruiting new members and raising the finances necessary to continue operations. The State Fire Commissioner and DCED have long been advocates for regionalization and consolidation efforts to occur among departments in order to improve efficiency. I believe it is important to provide incentives and support for local communities and their volunteer fire companies that choose to merge.
To assist with these efforts, I plan to re-introduce legislation (Senate Bill 1429 from last session) to remove the five-year sunset provision currently applying to volunteer fire companies that merge and receive grants through the Fire and EMS Grant program.
Currently, if two or more fire companies merge, the newly formed entity is authorized to continue to receive each individual fire company’s grant for up to five years after the merger. For example, if three fire companies merge and each were receiving $12,000 from the grant program, the new entity would be entitled to receive the total amount of $36,000 for five years. At the end of the five year period, the newly formed fire company would receive only $12,000. I believe this loss of aggregate funding is a disincentive for companies who are planning to merge.
My legislation would remove the five-year provision so fire companies can continue to receive the total amount indefinitely. In doing so, companies will continue to have the necessary grant funding to not only address the cost of consolidating, but to maintain operations into the future.
Please consider joining me in sponsoring this legislation which will assist our volunteer fire companies.
Introduced as SB370