CHAPTER 434

FORMERLY

HOUSE BILL NO. 190

AS AMENDED BY HOUSE AMENDMENT NOS. 1 AND 3 AND

SENATE AMENDMENT NO. 1

AN ACT TO AMEND TITLE 29 OF THE DELAWARE CODE RELATING TO THE VOLUNTEER FIRE SERVICE REVOLVING LOAN FUND PROGRAM.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE STATE OF DELAWARE :

Section 1. Amend Chapter 27, Title 29 of the Delaware Code, by adding a new §2719 to read as follows:

"§2719. Delaware Council on Volunteer Fire Service.

(a) There is hereby created a Delaware Council on Volunteer Fire Service, hereinafter referred to as the Council, to advise the Secretary of Finance on all matters relating to the administration, implementation and financing of the Volunteer Fire Service Revolving Loan Fund Program. The Council shall review and recommend to the Secretary of Finance for adoption, after a public hearing, criteria for administering and awarding loans from the Volunteer Fire Service Revolving Loan Fund, including but not limited to criteria for assessing recipient need.

(b) The Council shall consist of:

(1) The President of the Delaware Volunteer Firemen’s Association or designee;

(2) The Chairman of the State Fire Prevention Commission or designee;

(3) Three members; one each appointed by the Presidents of the New Castle, Kent, and Sussex County Firemen’s Associations no later than September 1 for the initial appointment and January 15 of each calendar year thereafter.
(a) Initial appointments shall be for staggered terms. The member from Sussex County’s initial term shall be for three years, the member from Kent County’s initial term shall be for two years, and the member from New Castle County’s initial term shall be for one year.
(b) Upon expiration of the preceding terms, subsequent appointments shall be for a three-year term.

(c) At the end of a member's term, such member shall continue to serve until the member's successor is duly appointed;

(4) The State Treasurer or designee;

(5) The Secretary of Finance or designee

(c) The Secretary of Finance shall serve as the chair of the Council.

(d) Members of the Council shall receive no compensation. The Council shall hold at least one regular meeting each calendar year and shall keep a record of its proceedings. All proceedings of the Council shall be
conducted in accordance with Chapter 100 of Title 29.

(e) For purposes of conducting business of the Council, four voting members shall constitute a quorum. A majority vote of Council members shall be required on any action or matter before the Council.

(f) The Council shall adopt procedural rules and regulations to carry out the provisions of this chapter."

Section 2. Amend Title 29 of the Delaware Code, by adding to a new §2720 to read as follows:

"§2720. Delaware Volunteer Fire Service Revolving Loan Fund.

(1) A special fund appropriation account is hereby created in the Department of Finance, to be known as the Delaware Volunteer Fire Service Revolving Loan Fund, hereinafter referred to as the Fund. Sums appropriated by the General Assembly to the Fund shall be used to create a loan program to be administered according to guidelines and procedures developed by the Delaware Council on Volunteer Fire Service to upgrade equipment and improve facilities that are essential to providing adequate fire, rescue, emergency medical and technical emergency response related service to Delaware communities. Loan funds shall not be made available for equipment that has already been ordered or the expansion of facilities or parking that has already begun, except where such expansion is deemed necessary to provide adequate fire, rescue, and emergency medical and technical emergency response services to the surrounding community by the Delaware Council on Volunteer Fire Service. The Fund shall serve as a revolving loan account and shall be eligible to receive loan repayments. The Fund shall be deemed a special fund and shall be approved by the Governor for the following purposes:

(a) To accept and retain the funds and revenues appropriated by the General Assembly;

(b) To make loans to eligible volunteer fire, rescue, and emergency medical service companies meeting the criteria established herein;

(c) To buy or refinance debt obligations of eligible volunteer fire, rescue, and emergency medical service companies;

(d) To facilitate the pledging by an eligible fire, rescue and emergency medical service company of its State grant-in-aid and health insurance rebate funds as collateral for securing a loan from the Fund;

(e) To earn interest on amounts on deposit in such Fund;

(f) To establish all necessary interest bearing accounts for deposit of loan repayments; and

(g) To finance the reasonable costs incurred by the State in the administration of the Fund.

(2) The Council shall develop a competitive process to approve loan applications for improving fire, rescue, emergency medical, and technical emergency response services throughout the State and in connection therewith, shall develop criteria to assess the relative needs for fire service and loan assistance throughout the State. Such criteria shall include and shall give highest priority, but shall not be limited to, consideration of the financial need of the fire, rescue, emergency medical service companies, and the surrounding community. In addition, the Council shall consider:

(a) The financial assets of the volunteer fire, rescue, and emergency medical service company making the application as well as its ability to obtain revenue, income, and financial support and loans from outside sources;

(b) The age and existing conditions of the volunteer fire, rescue, and emergency medical service company’s apparatus, equipment, or facilities, including, but not limited to, whether such apparatus, equipment, and facility are in compliance with National Fire Protection Association standards; and

(c) The demographic, geographic, and financial conditions of the community served by the volunteer fire, rescue, and emergency medical service company making the application.

(3) The Council shall be required to submit a strategic plan for accomplishing the goals to be met by the Fund and a procedure for the application process by January 31, 2003. Such plan shall contain the guidelines and procedures for the administration of the program and shall be presented to the co-chairs of the Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Improvement Programs. No funds shall be loaned from the Delaware Volunteer Fire Service Revolving Loan Fund until the co-chairs of the Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Improvement Programs have reviewed and approved the plan.

(4) Upon the request of the Council, subsequent to approval of an application in accordance with this subsection, the State Treasurer is authorized to release funds appropriated to the Volunteer Fire Service Revolving Loan Fund sufficient to make such loans.

(5) The Council shall submit an annual report to the Governor and co-chairs of the Joint Legislative Committee on Capital Improvement programs by October 15 of each succeeding year.

Approved August 22, 2002