Fire districts will be permitted to amend budget

Gov. Chris Christie has signed into law legislation sponsored by Republican state Assemblyman Ronald Dancer that will permit a fire district to use additional revenue received after the adoption of its annual budget to purchase needed fire protection items.

The measure also makes the protocol for the insertion of a new appropriation in a fire district’s budget parallel to the protocol for the budget of a local governing body, according to a press release.

“Annual fire district budgets are adopted by voters in February. However, officials are currently prohibited from using any additional funds, such as federal grants or donations, until the following budget year,” Dancer said. “This bill will allow local fire officials to adjust their budgets accordingly so they can use the additional monies immediately to purchase items necessary for the safety and protection of their residents.

“We allow municipalities to amend their budgets after adoption,” he continued. “This legislation will now provide fire district officials with the same budgeting tools we afford municipalities to amend their budgets.”

The bill, A-898/S-1141, allows a board of fire commissioners, with the approval of the director of the Division of Local Government Services in the Department of Community Affairs, to approve the insertion of an additional appropriation into a fire district budget after the budget’s approval by the voters.

Democratic state Sen. Jeff Van Drew sponsored the bill in the Senate.

The measure permits the new appropriation to have been made available by any public or private funding source and requires that the amount of the item was not included in the adopted budget.