New Law Updates Regulations for Yonkers Firefighters Fund

Governor Cuomo signs law updating regulations that govern expenditures from fund controlled by the Yonkers Firefighters Union
December 20, 2017

Yonkers, NY State Senate Minority Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assemblymember Shelley Mayer applauded Governor Andrew Cuomo today for signing a bill they sponsored into law which authorizes members of the Yonkers Fire Department to continue to support their members. A.8314/S.6670 modernizes and makes consistent the requirements surrounding the way the Yonkers firefighters union is able to expend funds derived from a collection of surcharges on foreign fire insurance companies doing business in Yonkers.

Under this bill, a long-outdated 1912 special law, which governed the expenditure of these funds in Yonkers, has been updated to meet modern needs and conform to other governing regulations that apply to most other volunteer and paid fire departments. Under the prior law, only "indigent" firefighters were eligible to benefit from these funds. This bill modifies the outdated section of the law, and makes the distribution consistent with more current provisions of the Insurance Law.

In 2016, the Yonkers firefighters union was alerted to the existence of the 1912 law, and the union swiftly stopped spending these funds while they could study how they could bring their expenditures into compliance. This bill reflects the desire to distribute these funds in a manner consistent with other departments and subject to the Comptroller's oversight.

"This legislation provides a modern framework for the ways in which firefighters can invest money raised through the Foreign Fire Insurance Company tax," said State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, Senate sponsor of the bill. "Furthermore, it updates outdated provisions and provides much-needed clarity for the spending process. I'm proud to have fought for this bill and I remain committed to ensuring our heroes receive the support they need."

"This new law modernizes outdated provisions that regulate the way the Yonkers firefighters are permitted to spend funds collected through the foreign fire insurance company tax. I am so pleased that Governor Cuomo understood the need to clarify and modernize these provisions, and signed this law, giving our firefighters the support they deserve. With the adoption of this bill, Yonkers firefighters now have the clarification and information they need to spend the funds properly, as they always intended, and ensure that the Volunteer Firemen's Home at Hudson is properly funded," said Assemblymember Shelley Mayer (D-Yonkers), Assembly sponsor of the bill. "I am thankful to my legislative colleagues, Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, and Governor Andrew Cuomo for acknowledging that the outdated law needed to be improved."

Barry McGoey, President of the Yonkers Firefighters union, noted "The Yonkers Firefighters of IAFF Local 628 are very thankful to Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, State Senator Andrea Stewart-Cousins, and Assemblymembers Shelley Mayer and Kevin Cahill for enacting Chapter 499 of the Laws of 2017. This legislation corrects an ancient and outdated Special Act from 1912 and allows the City of Yonkers and the Yonkers Firefighters to continue to benefit from the Foreign Fire Insurance program. This corrective legislation was long overdue, but we are extremely happy that this provision of the law has finally been updated and brought current."

"The legislation signed today provides clarity to existing practices and ensures that the firefighters have prompt access to payments of foreign fire insurance funds. Enacting this law ensures they will maintain access to these monies without delay. Assemblymember Mayer deserves special credit for recognizing the need to remove any ambiguities from this process," commented Assemblymember Kevin A. Cahill, Chairman of the Assembly Insurance Committee.