The Work Group to Study the Laws & Policies Related to the Distribution of Money to Volunteer & Career Fire Companies has submitted a letter containing its final recommendations and a copy of draft legislation. The letter discusses the membership of the workgroup, its meeting schedule, and issue areas where the Work Groups did not reach consensus. The draft legislations includes all the issue areas where consensus was reached.
As previously reported on Conduit Street, the Work Group was charged with examining the adequacy of State laws and policies which apply to certain funds distributed by counties to volunteer and career fire companies, including the Senator William H. Amoss Fire, Rescue and Ambulance Fund. The Work Group was also required to consider the existing county maintenance of effort (MOE) requirement under the Amoss Fund.
MACo Legal and Policy Counsel Les Knapp has represented MACo and the counties on the Work Group. Senator Barry Glassman of Harford County served as Chair of the Work Group. Additional members of the Work Group included State legislators and representatives of the Maryland State Firemen’s Association, Maryland Fire Chiefs Association, Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Council of the State of Maryland, and the Professional Firefighters of Maryland. The Military Department, which is the State agency responsible for oversight of the Amoss Fund, has both staffed and participated on the Work Group.
Many of the suggestions submitted by MACo were accepted by the Work Group and incorporated into the draft legislation. The legislation: (1) tries to better define allowed uses of Amoss funding; (2) allows counties and fire companies to save funds over several years to make a large equipment purchase; (3) clarifies how Amoss funds should be prioritized; (4) clarifies the criteria counties should use when determining need for funding; (5) creates a MOE waiver process for county governments, similar to the waiver process used for public school MOE; and (6) removes capital expenditures from the MOE calculation process.