SENATE COMMUNITY AND URBAN AFFAIRS COMMITTEE

 

STATEMENT TO

 

SENATE, No. 3272

 

with committee amendments

 

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

 

DATED:  DECEMBER 10, 2015

 

      The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee reports favorably and with committee amendments Senate Bill No. 3272.

      As amended by the committee, this bill would permit two or more municipalities to consolidate fire districts if the commissioners of each of the fire districts within each municipality adopt parallel resolutions consenting to the development of a consolidation plan.  In addition, the bill permits a single municipality to consider the consolidation of all fire districts within that municipality.  Any municipal governing body or governing bodies that approve the development of a consolidation plan are to work with the fire district commissioners to prepare the plan.  The plan may be prepared in consultation with the Director of the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs, or a designee.

      Upon completion of the consolidation plan, which the bill requires to include a first-year budget for the consolidated fire district, among other items, the governing body of each municipality considering consolidation is required to fix a time and place for a hearing to discuss the proposed consolidation.  The bill directs that notice of the hearing be provided to the public, and copies of the proposed consolidation plan be made available for public inspection by the municipal clerk.

      Following the hearing, the bill requires the governing body or governing bodies of each municipality to vote on a resolution to consolidate the fire districts.  Upon passage of the resolution, the governing bodies must apply to the Local Finance Board for approval to consolidate their fire districts pursuant to the consolidation plan.

      Once the consolidation plan is effective, the assets and debts of the fire districts to be consolidated must be reapportioned pursuant to the consolidation plan.  The bill calls for the consolidation to become operative after the next fire district election following the final adoption of the consolidation plan by at least 29 days, during which new commissioners for the consolidated district must be elected.

      The bill would also permit the enlargement of an existing fire district by including additional territory in another municipality that is not included in another fire district upon the adoption of a parallel ordinance.

 

COMMITTEE AMENDMENTS:

The committee amended the bill as follows:

      in section 1, to permit the enlargement of an existing fire district by including additional territory in another municipality that is not included in another fire district upon the adoption of parallel ordinances, and to permit municipalities to dissolve a fire district created by extending the boundaries of an existing fire district to include additional territory in another municipality;

      in section 2, to require a consolidation of fire districts in two or more municipalities to be approved by the Local Finance Board upon a joint application by the municipalities; to require that the consolidation plan for the consolidation of the fire districts include certain information; and to permit any one of those municipalities to petition the Local Finance Board for dissolution of the fire district;

      in section 3, to require a consolidation of fire districts within a single municipality to be approved by the Local Finance Board and to require that the consolidation plan for the consolidation of the fire districts include certain information; and

     in sections 2 and 3, to require that the Local Finance Board approve a consolidation application if it determines that the consolidation is an efficient and feasible means of providing and financing the service.