State Auditor's Working Group (November 2020 Meetings)

The Volunteer Fire Relief Association Working Group convened by the Office of the State Auditor (OSA) met on November 10 and November 17. The Working Group previously was asked to consider whether it had a position on whether individuals who are employed as full-time firefighters should be legally prohibited from serving as volunteer firefighters for the same fire department. Currently, the law does not prohibit this. The Working Group took the position of supporting current law. 

In response to another, similar request, the Working Group considered whether to take a position on if relief associations should be required by law to invest through the Minnesota State Board of Investment. Current law gives relief associations this option but does not mandate it. The Working Group also agreed to support current law on this issue. The Working Group noted that in both cases, current law supports local control and recognizes the differing and unique needs of communities. 

The Working Group was also asked to consider whether the supplemental state aid formula should be changed to calculate the aid based on the number of active firefighters, or some other basis. Supplemental state aid is currently 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. The Working Group will continue its discussion on this topic during the next meeting, and review a comparison of current supplemental state aid amounts and how they would differ if based on the number of active firefighters.

Finally, the Working Group adopted language that clarifies filing and application fees that may be paid from a relief association’s special fund and how the audit threshold is measured. The Working Group is also considering a change that would permit defined benefit relief associations to retain service credit only for a defined length of time if a nonvested member leaves firefighting service.

The next Working Group meeting is scheduled for December 15. 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 November 2020 Pension Newsletter