State Auditor's Working Group (December 2020 Meeting)

The Volunteer Fire Relief Association Working Group convened by the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) met on December 15. The Working Group reviewed estimates of how supplemental state aid amounts would change if the calculation was based on the number of active firefighters, rather than allocated in proportion to the amount of fire state aid that each relief association receives. The calculation that determines fire state aid amounts, in turn, is primarily based on the population and market value of each fire department service area. Generally, aid would shift under the alternative calculation method from areas with larger populations to those with smaller populations. The Working Group took no action on this discussion item.

The Working Group reviewed and approved draft language that would change CPA certification requirements if a relief association chooses to have an audit performed, even though an audit is not required. Relief associations that submit an audit would be exempt from the CPA certification that is required for relief associations with special fund assets and liabilities of less than $500,000.

The Working Group also reviewed and approved draft language that would provide relief associations with a defined benefit plan the option, if their bylaws allow, to forfeit service credit of former nonvested members who have ceased duties as a volunteer firefighter, and have not resumed active fire department service or relief association membership for a period of not less than five years.

Additionally, the Working Group discussed changes to the timing of the distribution to a former spouse following the divorce of a relief association member. A change is being considered that would allow the former spouse’s distribution to be made prior to the member’s retirement. 

The Working Group is also considering a change to how vesting is determined for purposes of combined service pensions, which may be payable when a relief association member has service with multiple fire departments.

The final meeting of the 2020-2021 Working Group meeting is scheduled for January 12. Meeting agendas and information are available on the Working Group page of the OSA website. Meetings are live-streamed on the OSA's YouTube channel, and recordings are available on the channel following each meeting.

Published last in the December 2020 Pension Newsletter