Bill Text: AZ HB2455 | 2021 | Fifty-fifth Legislature 1st Regular | Engrossed


Bill Title: Fire districts; pension liability; financing.

Spectrum: Partisan Bill (Republican 1-0)

Status: (Engrossed - Dead) 2021-03-24 - Senate FIN Committee action: Held, voting: (0-0-0-0) [HB2455 Detail]

Download: Arizona-2021-HB2455-Engrossed.html

 

 

 

House Engrossed

 

fire districts; pension liability; financing.

 

 

 

 

State of Arizona

House of Representatives

Fifty-fifth Legislature

First Regular Session

2021

 

 

 

HOUSE BILL 2455

 

 

 

AN ACT

 

Amending sections 9-955, 48-805 and 48-805.02, Arizona Revised Statutes; relating to fire districts.

 

 

(TEXT OF BILL BEGINS ON NEXT PAGE)

 


Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona:

Section 1. Section 9-955, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

START_STATUTE9-955. Officers of board; meetings; procedure for disbursements

A. The board of trustees shall elect from its members the president and secretary of the board for the ensuing year. The city or town treasurer, or the county treasurer, as the case may be, shall be treasurer, except that if the board of trustees of a fire district assumes the responsibility for investing and reinvesting the funds pursuant to section 9-957, subsection B, the board of trustees may elect from its members a treasurer who is responsible for the custody of the cash and securities of the fund and for executing the decisions of the board of trustees with respect to investments, reinvestments, receipts and disbursements.

B. The board shall meet annually and at such other times as the president may direct.

C. The board shall issue orders signed by the president and the secretary to the beneficiaries of the amounts ordered paid to such beneficiaries from the fund stating the conditions of the payment. The board of trustees of a fire fighters' relief and pension fund of a fire district which that procures the services of a private fire protection company pursuant to section 48-805, subsection B, paragraph 9 may pay directly to the board of the fire district an amount each year of not to exceed the cost of the private fire protection company's pension plan but only to the extent monies are available in the fund. The board shall keep a public record of its proceedings. At each regular meeting it shall transmit to the city, town or county treasurer, as the case may be, a written list of all persons entitled to benefits from the fund, stating the reason and amount of the benefits. The list shall be certified and signed by the president and secretary and attested under oath. The treasurer of the city or town, or in the case of unincorporated towns, the county treasurer, shall thereupon enter a copy of the list upon on a book kept for that purpose. The fund shall not be disbursed without a majority vote of the members of the board, the vote to be entered upon on the minutes.

D. Notwithstanding the provisions of subsections A and C of this section, if the board of trustees of a fire district assumes the responsibility for investing and reinvesting the funds pursuant to section 9-957, subsection B, the duties of the treasurer may be performed by a member of the board elected by the board. If the duties of the treasurer are performed by a member of the board, he the member shall be bonded for an amount determined by the board which amount that shall not be less than the maximum amount of funds in the account at any one time during the previous year.END_STATUTE

Sec. 2. Section 48-805, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

START_STATUTE48-805. Fire district; powers and duties; definition

A. A fire district, through its board, shall:

1. Hold public meetings at least once each calendar month unless except as follows:

(a) If a board consists of three members and the fire district levies less than $500,000 annually, then the board shall meet in July and at least every two months thereafter.

(b) A board for a district organized pursuant to article 3 of this chapter shall hold public meetings at least every two months.

2. Determine the compensation payable to district personnel.

3. Require all current and prospective employees and volunteers to submit a full set of fingerprints to the fire district, joint powers authority, fire authority, fire and medical authority or fire and ambulance authority that is formed with that fire district pursuant to section 48-805.01.  The fire district, joint powers authority that is formed pursuant to section 48-805.01, fire authority, fire and medical authority or fire and ambulance authority shall submit the fingerprints to the department of public safety for the purpose of obtaining a state and federal criminal records check pursuant to section 41-1750 and Public Law 92-544.  The department of public safety may exchange this fingerprint data with the federal bureau of investigation.

B. A fire district, through its board, may:

1. Employ any personnel and provide services deemed necessary for fire protection, for preservation of life and for carrying out its other powers and duties, including providing ambulance transportation services when authorized to do so pursuant to title 36, chapter 21.1, article 2, but a member of a district board shall not be an employee of the district. The merger of two or more fire districts pursuant to section 48-820 or the consolidation with one or more fire districts pursuant to section 48-822 shall not expand the boundaries of an existing certificate of necessity unless authorized pursuant to title 36, chapter 21.1, article 2.

2. Construct, purchase, lease, lease-purchase or otherwise acquire the following or any interest in the following and, in connection with the construction or other acquisition, purchase, lease, lease-purchase or grant a lien on any or all of its present or future property, including:

(a) Apparatus, water and rescue equipment, including ambulances and equipment related to any of the foregoing.

(b) Land, buildings, equipment and furnishings to house equipment and personnel necessary or appropriate to carry out its purposes.

3. Lease, lease-purchase or grant a lien on any or all of its present or future property to Pay amounts to the public safety personnel retirement system pursuant to section 38-843, pension prefunding plan investment accounts pursuant to section 35-314.04 and the Arizona employers' pension prefunding plan established by section 38-932 and to create reserves to supplement such payments as deemed necessary by the board.

3. 4. Finance the acquisition of property as provided in this section and costs incurred in connection with the issuance of bonds as provided in section 48-806. Bonds shall not be issued without the consent of a majority of the electors of the district voting at an election held for that purpose. For the purposes of an election held under this paragraph, all persons who are eligible to vote in fire district elections under section 48-802 are eligible to vote.

4. 5. Enforce the fire code adopted by the district, if any, and assist the office of the state fire marshal in the enforcement of fire protection standards of this state within the fire district including enforcement of a nationally recognized fire code if expressly authorized by the office of the state fire marshal.

5. 6. After the approval of the qualified electors of the fire district voting at a regular district election or at a special election called for that purpose by the district board, as appropriate, or at any election held in the county that encompasses the fire district, adopt the _______ fire code, which is a nationally recognized fire code approved by the state fire marshal. The words appearing on the ballots shall be "should __________ fire district adopt the __________ fire code, which is a nationally recognized fire code approved by the state fire marshal--yes", "should ____________ fire district adopt the __________ fire code, which is a nationally recognized fire code approved by the office of the state fire marshal--no". The code shall be enforced by the county attorney in the same manner as any other law or ordinance of the county.  Any inspection or enforcement costs are the responsibility of the fire district involved. The district shall keep the code on file, which shall be open to public inspection for a period of thirty days before any election for the purpose of adopting a fire code. Copies of the order of election shall be posted in three public places in the district at least twenty days before the date of the election, and if a newspaper is published in the county having a general circulation in the district, the order shall be published in the newspaper at least once a week during each of the three calendar weeks preceding the calendar week of the election.

6. 7. Amend or revise the adopted fire code, including replacement of the adopted fire code with an alternative nationally recognized fire code, with the approval of the office of the state fire marshal and after a hearing held pursuant to posted and published notice as prescribed by section 48-805.02, subsection A. The district shall keep three copies of the adopted code, amendments and revisions on file for public inspection.

7. 8. Enter into an agreement procuring the services of an organized private fire protection company or a fire department of a neighboring city, town, district or settlement without impairing the fire district's powers.

8. 9. Contract with a city or town for fire protection services for all or part of the city or town area until the city or town elects to provide regular fire department services to the area.

9. 10. Retain a certified public accountant to perform an annual audit of district books.

10. 11. Retain private legal counsel.

11. 12. Accept gifts, contributions, bequests and grants and comply with any requirements of those gifts, contributions, bequests and grants that are not inconsistent with this article.

12. 13. Appropriate and expend annually monies as are necessary for the purpose of fire districts belonging to and paying dues in the Arizona fire district association and other professional affiliations or entities.

13. 14. Adopt resolutions establishing fee schedules both within and outside of the jurisdictional boundaries of the district for providing fire protection services and services for the preservation of life, including emergency fire and emergency medical services, plan reviews, standby charges, fire cause determination, users' fees or facilities benefit assessments or any other fee schedule that may be required.

14. 15. With the approval of two of the three members of a three-member board, four of the five members of a five-member board or five of the seven members of a seven-member board, change the district's name and on so doing shall give written notice to the board of supervisors of the change.  The governing board of a fire district may place a question on the general election ballot as to whether the fire district shall change its name.

15. 16. Require all employees to submit a full set of fingerprints as prescribed by subsection A, paragraph 3 of this section.

16. 17. Enter into intergovernmental agreements or contracts as follows:

(a) Enter into an intergovernmental agreement with another political subdivision for technical or administrative services or to provide fire services to the property owned by the political subdivision, including property that is outside the district boundary.

(b) Enter into a contract with individuals to provide technical or administrative services.

(c) Enter into a contract with individuals to provide fire protection services or emergency medical services, or both, to the extent not regulated by title 36, chapter 21.1 to property owned by the individual located outside the district boundaries if the individual's property is not located in a county island as defined in section 11-251.12 and at least one of the following apply:

(i) The existing fire service provider where the individual's property is located has issued a notice to the individual that the provider plans to discontinue service.

(ii) Fire service is not available to the individual's property.

(iii) Fire service is offered pursuant to a contract or subscription and the individual has not obtained service for a period of twenty-four months before the date of the contract with the district.

(d) Enter into a contract with individuals to provide fire services to property owned by the individual located outside the district boundaries, where the individual's property is located in a county island as defined in section 11-251.12, if both of the following apply:

(i) The existing fire service provider where the individual's property is located has issued a notice to the residents of the county island and the individual that the provider plans to discontinue or substantially reduce service.

(ii) The district offers contracts to all residents and property owners of the county island who will be affected by the discontinuance or substantial reduction in service by the current fire service provider.

(e) For the purposes of subdivision (a), (b), (c) or (d) of this paragraph, a district may contract with any public or private fire service provider to provide some or all of the contractual services the district is contracting to deliver.

(f) Any contract entered into pursuant to subdivisions (b), (c) and (d) of this paragraph shall include a provision setting forth the cost of service and performance criteria.

17. 18. Sell or otherwise dispose of any real property, facilities or equipment if the district board determines the real property, facilities or equipment to be surplus.

C. A fire district may not administratively add or annex additional property or delete property or otherwise modify its boundaries except in a merger or consolidation pursuant to this chapter or in a boundary change made pursuant to section 48-262. This subsection does not apply to a district organized pursuant to article 3 of this chapter.

D. The chairman and clerk of the district board or their respective designees, as applicable, shall draw warrants, substitute checks or electronic funds transfers on the county treasurer for money required to operate the district in accordance with the budget and, as so drawn, the warrants, substitute checks or electronic funds transfers shall be sufficient to authorize the county treasurer to pay from the fire district fund.

E. For any fire district that designates one or more board members to have access to the financial books and records of the district, those board members are authorized by law to have full access to those financial books and records.

F. The district board may assess and levy a secondary property tax pursuant to this article to pay for the costs of fire protection services or emergency medical services except for services regulated pursuant to title 36, chapter 21.1.

G. The county attorney may advise and represent the district if in the county attorney's judgment the advice and representation are appropriate and not in conflict with the county attorney's duties under section 11-532.  If the county attorney is unable to advise and represent the district due to a conflict of interest, the district may retain private legal counsel or may request the attorney general to represent it, or both.

H. If a district's fire code requires the use of a fire watch, an employee who works at the building in which a fire watch is required may serve as the fire watch.  A person who is designated as a fire watch shall be equipped with the means to contact the local fire department, and the person's only duty while keeping watch for fires shall be to perform constant patrols of the protected premises.  The district shall provide the fire watch with printed instructions from the office of the state fire marshal and may provide a free training session before the person's deployment as the fire watch begins.

I. For the purposes of this section, "fire watch" means a person who is stationed in a building or in a place relative to a building to observe the building and its openings when the fire protection system for the building is temporarily nonoperational or absent. END_STATUTE

Sec. 3. Section 48-805.02, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended to read:

START_STATUTE48-805.02. Fire district annual budget; levy; requirements

A. A fire district shall prepare an annual budget that contains detailed estimated expenditures for each fiscal year and that clearly shows salaries payable to employees of the district. The budget summary shall be posted in three public places and a complete copy of the budget shall be published on the district's official website for at least twenty days before a public hearing at a meeting called by the board to adopt the budget.  Copies of the budget shall also be available to members of the public on written request to the district. Following the public hearing, the district board shall adopt a budget. A complete copy of the adopted budget shall be posted in a prominent location on the district's official website within seven business days after final adoption and shall be retained on the website for at least sixty months. For any fire district that does not maintain an official website, the fire district may comply with this subsection by posting on a website of an association of fire districts in this state.

B. Not more than ten days after the organization of a fire district and not later than August 1 of each year after the organization, the chairman chairperson of the district board shall submit to the county board of supervisors a budget estimate that contains certifications by item and that specifies the amount of money required for the maintenance and operation of the district for the ensuing year.

C. Based on the budget submitted by the district, the board of supervisors shall levy the tax as prescribed in section 48-807, subsection F.

D. Every budget adopted by a fire district shall include the following:

1. A certification by the chairman chairperson and clerk of the district board as to both of the following:

(a) That the district has not incurred any debt or liability in excess of taxes levied and to be collected and the money actually available and unencumbered at that time in the district general fund, except for those liabilities as prescribed in section 48-805, subsection B, paragraph PARAGRAPHS 2 and 3 and sections 48-806 and 48-807.

(b) That the district complies with subsection F of this section.

2. For each of the items listed in the budget summary approved pursuant to subsection A of this section, the district shall estimate the revenue or expense for the next two fiscal years. Estimates shall be based on the average increase or decrease of the item for the previous two fiscal years unless more certain information is available to the district.  Estimates shall include any applicable levy or rate limitations.

3. If a district's total estimate of expenses exceeds its total estimate of revenues for any fiscal year, the district shall undertake a study of merger, consolidation or joint operating alternatives. The study required by this paragraph shall be presented to the fire district board in a special public meeting called for the sole purpose of evaluating the study.  The study shall include an identification of districts available for merger, consolidation or joint operations, an analysis of the level of service and cost of service that may be provided to the residents of a merged, consolidated or jointly operated district as compared to the level and cost of service to the residents of the districts without any merger, consolidation or joint operations.

E. For any district that amends its budget after its initial adoption, the district board shall hold a public hearing on the proposed revision of the budget.  The proposed revised budget must be considered and adopted during a public meeting immediately following the public hearing on the proposal. The public hearing on the proposed revised budget may be held at a regularly scheduled public meeting of the board of directors of the district. A fire district that proposes to amend its budget after its initial adoption shall comply with the posting, publishing and hearing notice requirements prescribed in subsection A of this section.  This subsection does not apply to a district organized pursuant to article 3 of this chapter.

F. When a fire district has adopted a budget and the board of supervisors has levied a fire district tax as provided in subsection C of this section and the district has insufficient monies in its general fund with the county treasurer to operate the district, the chairman chairperson of the fire district board of directors, on or after August 1 of each year, may draw warrants, substitute checks or electronic funds transfers for the purposes prescribed in section 48-805 on the county treasurer, payable on November 1 of that year or on April 1 of the succeeding year. The aggregate amounts of the warrants, substitute checks or electronic funds transfers may not exceed ninety percent of the taxes levied by the county for the district's current fiscal year. If the treasurer cannot pay a warrant, substitute check or electronic funds transfer for lack of monies in the fire district general fund, the warrant or substitute check shall be endorsed and registered, or the electronic funds transfer shall be recorded, and the warrant, substitute check or electronic funds transfer shall bear interest and be redeemed as provided by law for county warrants, substitute checks or electronic funds transfers, except that the warrants, substitute checks or electronic funds transfers are payable only from the fire district general fund.

G. Any audit, report or review of a fire district made pursuant to section 48-253 shall be presented to the district board by the auditor telephonically or in another live electronic format during a public meeting of the board or, as directed by the board, in person at a public meeting of the board. The district board shall take formal action at the public meeting to review and receive the audit, report or review. The audit, report or review shall include an attestation by the auditor of the district as to all of the following:

1. That the district has not incurred any debt or liability in excess of taxes levied and to be collected and the monies actually available and unencumbered at that time in the district general fund except for those liabilities as prescribed in section 48-805, subsection B, paragraph paragraphs 2 and 3 and sections 48-806 and 48-807.

2. That the district complies with subsection F of this section.

3. Whether the audit, report or review disclosed any information contrary to the certification made as prescribed by subsection D, paragraph 1 of this section. END_STATUTE

Sec. 4. Emergency

This act is an emergency measure that is necessary to preserve the public peace, health or safety and is operative immediately as provided by law.

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