One of the most common questions we receive from our fire district clients relates to the process required for a fire district to sell surplus fire equipment, vehicles or other property. Earlier this month, the Governor signed a bill that amends the familiar provisions of Town Law § 176(23).
Generally, unless the district is trading in apparatus as part payment for a new apparatus, a fire district may sell or otherwise dispose of real or personal property no longer necessary for any of its purposes only after the voters of the district approve the sale through a proposition submitted at an annual or special election. Previously, the statute permitted a fire district to sell or otherwise dispose of surplus apparatus by resolution subject to permissive referendum if the property was valued at less than $50,000; and a fire district needed only a resolution approved by the board of fire commissioners as long as the value of the property did not exceed $10,000. Effective immediately, those thresholds have been boosted to $100,000 and $20,000 respectively.
Unfortunately, this law became effective on November 14, 2016—right smack in the middle of the notice period provided for the 2016 annual elections. No doubt there are a number of districts with propositions under consideration for the sale or disposition of surplus apparatus. What should those districts do? Depending on the value of property, you may wish to consult with counsel before taking any further action.
If you would like to schedule a consultation to discuss how this amendment may impact your fire district, please feel free to contact Peter Weishaar at firstname.lastname@example.org or 585.512.3542. Mr. Weishaar represents several fire districts in the Greater Rochester Area. His municipal practice also includes the ongoing representation of planning and zoning boards, as well as the representation of municipalities as special counsel in litigation matters.
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