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Public Referendum Announced Regarding Service Award Program For Active Volunteers Firefighters at Homer Fire

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The Village of Homer Board of Trustees unanimously adopted a resolution during last night’s Board of Trustees meeting directing a referendum to take place this November regarding the Village of Homer establishing a Service Award Program for active volunteer firefighters within the Homer Fire Department.


If approved by voters, volunteer firefighters who are active within the Homer Fire Department and are 18 years of age or older will be eligible to become Service Award Program participants, unless the participation is waived.

The program will give active volunteers with the Homer Fire Department an opportunity to earn pension-like benefits, pre-entitlement age death and disability benefits too.

“For each year of Service Award Program service credit earned not more than 50 years, a $750 contribution shall be credited to a Participant’s Service Award Program account. Investment income earned on, and investment/administrative expenses paid from the Service Award Program trust fund assets shall be allocated to each Participant’s Service Award Program account. The Participant’s Service Award Program account balance at any time shall be the Participant’s “Service Award” earned as of that time.”

As stated by the resolution by the Village of

Homer Mayor Hal McCabe said this is an amazing program for the volunteers at the Homer Fire Department to which the rest of the board agreed.

Members participating in the program will be allowed to apply for payment for their service once they reach the age of 63 aka the Entitlement Age.

The full resolution may be found below:

Section 1 The Board of Trustees of the Village of Homer, as authorized by Article 11-A of the New York State General Municipal Law, directs that there shall be a public referendum to eligible voters within the Village of Homer to be held on, November 5, 2024, to determine whether such Service Award Program shall be established effective January 1, 2025.

Section 2 In accordance with Article 11-A of the General Municipal Law, the Village of Homer shall be the Service Award Program Sponsor.

Section 3 The type of program shall be a defined contribution plan as described in Section 218 of Article 11- A. All active volunteer firefighter members of the Homer Fire Department who are at least 18 years old shall be eligible to become Service Award Program Participants. Unless participation is waived, an eligible volunteer shall become a Participant on December 31 of the first calendar year after calendar year 2023 during which he or she earns a year of Service Award Program service credit (see Section 4 of this resolution).

Section 4 Active volunteer firefighters shall have the opportunity to earn pension-like benefits, as well as pre-Entitlement Age death and disability benefits, under the Service Award Program. For each year of Service Award Program service credit earned not more than 50 years, a $750 contribution shall be credited to a Participant’s Service Award Program account. Investment income earned on, and investment/administrative expenses paid from the Service Award Program trust fund assets shall be allocated to each Participant’s Service Award Program account. The Participant’s Service Award Program account balance at any time shall be the Participant’s “Service Award” earned as of that time.

A Participant may apply for payment of his or her Service Award upon attainment of age 63, the “Entitlement Age”. No Service Award shall effectively be paid to any Participant before January 1, 2025. A Participant shall be paid his or her Service Award in the form of a lump-sum payment or in any other equivalent forms of payment selected by the Participant as may be permitted under the terms and conditions of the program document.

The pre-Entitlement Age death benefit shall be a lump-sum payable to the Participant’s designated beneficiary equal to the Participant’s Service Award. No death benefit shall be payable unless the Participant had acquired a non-forfeitable right to a Service Award (see Section 6 of this resolution).

A Participant shall be eligible to be paid a pre-Entitlement Age disability benefit payment under the Service Award Program if such Participant is granted a total and permanent disability by the Social Security Administration, or by any entity which pays benefits under the Volunteer Firefighters’ Benefit Law, or by any other authority approved by the Program Administrator. Such disability benefit shall be a lump-sum payment equal to the Participant’s Service Award.

Section 5 A year of Service Award Program service credit shall be earned by an eligible volunteer for each calendar year after 2023 during which the eligible volunteer earns at least 50 “points” for participating in volunteer firefighter activities as set forth by the Board of Fire Commissioners in the Service Award Program Point System, as authorized by Section 217 of Article 11-A of the General Municipal Law, and during which the volunteer agrees to participate in the Service Award Program. A copy of the Point System is attached to this Resolution. The Board of Trustees may amend the Point System from time to time, provided such amendments are adopted in accordance with and are allowable under all applicable statutes, rules and regulations. In the event the Point System is amended by the Board of Trustees, a written explanation of the changes shall be distributed to active volunteer firefighter members within six months of the later of the date such changes are adopted or effective.

Section 6 Up to five years of Service Credit may be earned under the Point System by eligible Participants for service prior to January 1, 2024, and after December 31, 2018, with the Homer Fire Department. To be eligible to earn credit for such service, an eligible volunteer of the Homer Fire Department must earn a year of Service Credit in a calendar year beginning on or after January 1, 2024, or 2025.

Section 7 Persons who become or continue to be eligible volunteers after attaining the Entitlement Age shall continue to have the opportunity to earn service credit under the Point System even if they have been paid a Service Award. Any $750 annual post Entitlement Age contribution earned by a Participant shall be credited to the Participant’s program account and subsequently paid to the Participant or the Participant’s beneficiary in accordance with the applicable provisions set forth in the program document.

Section 8 A Participant’s Service Award shall become fully vested (i.e. a Participant shall obtain a nonforfeitable right to his or her Service Award) after the Participant: earns at least five (5) years of Service Award Program service credit; attains age 63 or any subsequent age while an eligible volunteer; or is awarded a Service Award Program total and permanent disability benefit payment.

Section 9 As of December 31 of the year a non-vested Participant ceases to be an eligible volunteer, such non-vested Participant’s Service Award and earned Service Credit shall be forfeited. The forfeited earned Service Credit and Service Award shall be restored if such individual again becomes an active volunteer firefighter member of the Homer Fire Department within five years and subsequently earns at least one year of Service Credit under the Point System.

Section 10 The total cost of funding the Village of Homer Service Award Program for 5 prior service years for current volunteers is estimated to be as much as $144,200. The estimated annual cost to administer the program is about $4,000. The total annual cost of funding the Village of Homer Service Award Program benefits for current volunteers is estimated to be as much as $32,250 or about $750 per active volunteer firefighter member.

Section 11 The Village of Homer Service Award Program benefit payments shall commence to Participants after December 31, 2024, when they and/or their beneficiaries qualify for payment.

Section 12 All other provisions of the Village of Homer Service Award Program shall be in accordance with Article 11-A of the General Municipal Law as amended from time to time and all related rules and regulations issued by the New York State Comptroller as well as any federal statutes and regulations applicable to Service Award Programs.

The appropriate trustees of the Village Board of Homer are authorized to and shall take the necessary actions to carry out this resolution.

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