Opinion 96-12

This opinion represents the views of the Office of the State Comptroller at the time it was rendered. The opinion may no longer represent those views if, among other things, there have been subsequent court cases or statutory amendments that bear on the issues discussed in the opinion.

FIRE DISTRICTS -- Fiscal Year (change only by special act)

TOWN LAW, §181: The fiscal year of a fire district may be changed only by act of the State Legislature.

You ask how a fire district may change its fiscal year from a calendar year to a year ending in February or March. You indicate that the change would coincide with the timing of the receipt of taxes levied for fire district purposes.

Town Law, §181 provides that the "fiscal year of each fire district shall begin on the first day of January and end on the thirty-first day of December". There is no provision in the Town Law or any other State statute which authorizes a fire district to change its fiscal year (compare Village Law, §5-510). Moreover, fire districts do not have home rule power to adopt a local law superseding section 181 (see NY Const, art IX, §3[d][2]; Municipal Home Rule Law, §2[8]; cf. 24 Opns St Comp, 1968, p 285, concerning the supersession of Second Class Cities Law, §73 by local law). Accordingly, the fiscal year of a fire district may be changed only by act of the State Legislature.1

We note that should the lag between the commencement of the fire district fiscal year and the receipt of the taxes levied for fire district purposes create a cash flow shortage for the fire district, the fire district may wish to consider the issuance of tax anticipation notes (see Local Finance Law, §24.00[c-2]). A fire district may issue such notes at any time during the first three months of its fiscal year, in anticipation of the collection of taxes levied for the fire district for that fiscal year. Among other requirements, the notes must be redeemed from the taxes in anticipation of which the notes were issued (id.). For this purpose, taxes are deemed uncollected until the fire district receives payment of the taxes from the town (id.; also see 1980 Opns St Comp No. 80-662, p 178, concerning the town's responsibilities in connection with paying fire district tax moneys over to the fire district).

June 14, 1996
Richard C. Christensen, Secretary
Maynard Fire District

1 We mention the possibility of an act of the State Legislature for informational purposes only, and not as a recommendation of this Office with respect to any such measure.