MACo Legislative Director Natasha Mehu testified before the House Appropriations Committee on February 27, 2018 in support with amendments of House Bill 1515, Public Safety – Length of Service Award Programs – Statewide Service”.
This bill would remove a mandate and authorize counties to create additional terms for length of service awards programs (LOSAPs). Counties generally prefer the ability to opt-in to programs that give local jurisdictions the independence to adapt the terms of the program to that specific area.
However, this bill includes a requirement that would make it difficult for counties to estimate the fiscal impact. MACo submitted an amendment that would remove the requirement of counties to consider active time served by volunteers in other counties.
It is difficult to estimate how many individuals would become eligible through this provision because it is difficult to approximate how many would move into the county. Removing the requirement and making this consideration optional would satisfy the concerns put forward by counties.
From MACo Testimony:
The bill creates a level of fiscal uncertainty that counties cannot prepare for. Counties that offer these programs budget in advance for the awarding of benefits. Local governments must calculate annually how many individuals will be reaching eligibility in the next year and reserve funds to ensure they can sufficiently
cover the expenses of the benefits for the number of individuals anticipated to retire in a certain year. Counties would be unable to properly budget and reserve funds for volunteers that transfer into their counties.
Mandating the criteria for consideration also usurps local authority and potentially undermines the stability of the programs. LOSAPs operate under the discretion of the county offering the benefits. The local government decides whether the benefits would be offered and what the benefits would be. This bill undermines those local decisions and erodes the authority of counties to operate the program in the best interest of their volunteers. Mandating what were discretionary benefits could lead the counties to reduce the existing scope of benefits offered or dissolve the programs entirely.”
For more information on this and other legislation, follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2018 legislative session here.