The Division of Local Government Services (DLGS) has issued Local Finance Notice 2023-18 (LFN 2023-18) outlining the Calendar Year (CY) 2024 fire district budget process. Fire districts are mandated to submit their CY 2024 budgets through the Financial Automation Submission and Tracking System (FAST). The Division of Local Government Services provides a standardized Excel template for submission. This official workbook must be exclusively used, as it ensures accurate and standardized data transmission. No user Excel documents will be accepted.
Only specific fire district officials are authorized to obtain FAST login credentials for budget submission including the following:
- Secretary to the Board of Fire Commissioners,
- Treasurer of the Board of Fire Commissioners, and
- Administrative officer who is an employee of the fire district and responsible for day-to-day operations.
Contracted preparers may access the fire district budget workbook for completion, but the workbook must be returned to the designated official(s) for uploading in FAST.
After February 17, 2024 (the third Saturday in February), election results for fire districts with February elections, or any fire district with capital, levy cap, or restricted fund balance referendums taking place on the third Saturday in February, must be reported through the FAST system using the “Elections” tab within the adopted fire district budget module. Instructions governing the completion of the fire district budget workbook are contained within the Excel workbook and are available on the Division’s dedicated FAST webpage.
If the Board of Fire Commissioners establishes annual pay for its Fire District Commissioners, it must obtain approval from the municipal governing body as mandated by N.J.S.A. 40A:14-88. This approval is necessary before presenting the annual budget to voters, or, in the case of the fire district whose Board of Fire Commissioners election coincides with the November General Election before the district can adopt its budget. The fire district needs to get this approval annually, even if the compensation amount remains unchanged. To officially grant this compensation, the Board must pass a resolution specifying the pay amount. The 2024 fire district budget will include a question to confirm adherence to these stipulations.
N.J.S.A. 40A:14-78.11 through 40A:14-78.15 establish standard requirements and procedures for emergency appropriations by fire districts. The 2024 fire district budget will contain a question verifying fire district compliance with the requirements detailed within LFN 2023-18.
A fire district’s introduced budget must be balanced and be at or under the levy cap established pursuant to the 2010 levy cap law. The budget message on Page N-1 must indicate if the district plans to put a levy cap increase question before the voters. An introduced budget requiring referendum questions must include separate line-item appropriations that the referendum proposes to fund by the tax levy increase. For the health insurance cost increase exception, the State Health Benefits Programs (SHBP) rate increase in 2024 is 7.4%.
The League recommends reviewing LFN 2023-18 with your municipal professionals.
Contact: Andrew LaFevre, Legislative Analyst, firstname.lastname@example.org, 609-695-3481, x116