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Introduced Version Senate Bill 636 History

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sb636 intr
Senate Bill No. 636

(By Senators Unger, Jenkins, Dempsey and Minard)

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[Introduced March 21, 2005; referred to the Committee

on the Judiciary; and then to the Committee on Finance.]

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A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new article, designated §29-3D-1, §29-3D-2, §29-3D-3, §29-3D-4, §29-3D-5 and §29-3D-6, all relating to establishing a grant program for volunteer fire departments; providing for grant funding; defining certain terms and phrases; creating the Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program; providing for guidelines and procedures by legislative rule; providing for awards and grants; providing additional powers of State Fire Commission for administering the Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program; creating the State Fire Commission Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund to be maintained in the State Treasury; providing collections are to be paid into special fund; granting State Fire Commission authority to pledge the collections as security for refunding revenue bonds; and providing the Commission authority to finance projects on a cash basis.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new article, designated §29-3D-1, §29-3D-2, §29-3D-3, §29-3D-4, §29-3D-5 and §29-3D-6, all to read as follows:
ARTICLE 3D. VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPRTMENTS GRANT FUNDING.
§29-3D-1. Short title.

This article shall be known and may be cited as the Volunteer Fire Department Act.
§29-3D-2. Definitions.
The following words and phrases when used in this article have the following meanings:
(a) "Commission" means the State Fire Commission.
(b) "Facility" means a structure or portion thereof intended for the purpose of storage or protection of fire fighting apparatus, ambulances and rescue vehicles and related equipment and gear. The term does not include meeting halls, social halls, social rooms, lounges or any other facility not directly related to fire fighting or the furnishing of ambulance or rescue services.
(c) "Grant program" means the Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program.
(d) "Volunteer fire department" means a nonprofit chartered corporation, association or organization located in this state which provides fire protection or rescue services and which may offer other voluntary emergency services within this state. Voluntary emergency services provided by a volunteer fire company may include voluntary ambulance and voluntary rescue services.
(e) "Volunteer rescue company" means a nonprofit chartered corporation, association or organization located in this state that provides rescue services as part of the response to fires and/or vehicle accidents within this state.
§29-3D-3. Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program; guidelines and procedures; awards and grants.

(a) The Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program is hereby established and shall be administered by the Commission in consultation with the State Fire Marshall. Grants provided under this program shall be used to improve and enhance the capabilities of the volunteer fire department to provide fire fighting, ambulance and rescue services.
(b) The Commission shall propose rules for legislative approval in accordance with the provisions of article three, chapter twenty-nine-a, designed to develop guidelines, procedures and all applications necessary to implement the grant program.
(c) Authorization. -- The Commission is hereby authorized to make a one-time grant award to each eligible volunteer fire department for the following:
(1) Construction and renovation of the fire department's facility and purchase or repair of fixtures and furnishings necessary to maintain or improve the capability of the department to provide fire, ambulance and rescue services.
(2) Repair of fire fighting, ambulance or rescue equipment or purchase thereof.
(3) Training and certification of members.
(d) Limits. --
(1) Grants shall be not less two thousand five hundred dollars and not more than fifteen thousand dollars per volunteer fire department.
(2) Grants may be awarded on a pro rata basis.
(3) In a municipality where there are two or more volunteer fire departments, each entity will be eligible for a grant.
(e) Time for filing application and department action. --
(1) The Commission shall provide applications for grants under this article to every volunteer fire department in this state on or before the thirty-first day of July, two thousand six.
(2) Volunteer fire departments seeking grants under this article shall submit completed applications to the Commission on or before the thirty-first day of December, two thousand six. The Commission shall act to approve or disapprove the application by the first day of May, two thousand seven. Applications which have not been approved or disapproved by the Commission by the first day of May, two thousand seven, shall be considered approved.
(f) Eligibility. -- To receive grant funds under this article, a volunteer fire department shall have actively responded to one or more fire or rescue emergencies since the first day of July, two thousand five.
§29-3D-4. Additional powers of State Fire Commission in administering Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program.

The State Fire Commission, in addition to the powers set forth in article three of this chapter, and in furtherance of its duties in administering the Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program, has the power:
(1) To sue and be sued, plead and be impleaded;
(2) To have a seal and alter the same at pleasure;
(3) To contract to acquire and to acquire, in the name of the Commission, by purchase, lease-purchase not to exceed a term of twenty-five years, or otherwise, real property or rights or easements necessary or convenient for its corporate purposes and to exercise the power of eminent domain to accomplish those purposes;
(4) To acquire, hold and dispose of real and personal property for its corporate purposes;
(5) To make bylaws for the management and rule of its affairs;
(6) To appoint, contract with and employ attorneys, bond counsel, accountants, construction and financial experts, underwriters, financial advisers, trustees, managers, officers and such other employees and agents as may be necessary in the judgment of the Commission and to fix their compensation: Provided, That contracts entered into by the State Fire Commission in connection with the issuance of bonds under this article to provide professional and technical services, including, without limitation, accounting, actuarial, underwriting, consulting, trustee, bond counsel, legal services and contracts relating to the purchase or sale of bonds are subject to the provisions of article three, chapter five-a of this code: Provided, however, That notwithstanding any other provisions of this code, any authority of the Attorney General of this state relating to the review of contracts and other documents to effectuate the issuance of bonds under this article shall be exclusively limited to the form of the contract and document: Provided further, That the Attorney General of this state shall complete all reviews of contracts and documents relating to the issuance of bonds under this article within ten calendar days of receipt of the contract and document for review;
(7) To make contracts and to execute all instruments necessary or convenient to effectuate the intent of and to exercise the powers granted to it by this article;
(8) To renegotiate all contracts entered into by it whenever, due to a change in situation, it appears to the authority that its interests will be best served;
(9) To acquire by purchase, eminent domain or otherwise all real property or interests in the property necessary or convenient to accomplish the purposes of this article;
(10) To require proper maintenance and insurance of any project authorized under this section, including flood insurance for any facility within the one hundred year flood plain at which authority funds are expended;
(11) To charge rent for the use of all or any part of a project or buildings at any time financed, constructed, acquired or improved, in whole or in part, with the revenues of the Commission;
(12) To assist any volunteer fire department that chooses to acquire land, buildings, capital improvements or equipment for existing volunteer facilities, by lease from a private or public lessor for a term not to exceed twenty-five years with an option to purchase pursuant to an investment contract with the lessor on such terms and conditions as may be determined to be in the best interests of the Commission and the State Fire Marshall, consistent with the purposes of this article, by transferring funds to the Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program;
(13) To accept and expend any gift, grant, contribution, bequest or endowment of money and equipment to, or for the benefit of, the Commission or any project under this article, from the State of West Virginia or any other source for any or all of the purposes specified in this article or for any one or more of the enumerated purposes as may be specified in connection with the gift, grant, contribution, bequest or endowment;
(14) To enter on any lands and premises for the purpose of making surveys, soundings and examinations;
(15) To contract for architectural, engineering or other professional services considered necessary or economical by the Commission to provide consultative or other services to the Commission or to any volunteer fire department requesting professional services offered by the Commission, or to evaluate any facilities plan or equipment need;
(16) To provide funds on an emergency basis to repair or replace property or equipment for volunteer fire departments;
(17) To transfer moneys to custodial accounts maintained by the State Fire Commission for the purposes of upgrading the facilities or equipment of volunteer fire departments;
(18) To enter into agreements with volunteer fire departments' and persons, firms or corporations to facilitate the development and upgrade volunteer fire companies and departments facilities and equipment needs; and
(19) To do all things necessary or convenient to carry out the powers given in this article.
§29-3D-5. State Fire Commission authorized to issue refunding revenue bonds and/or general obligation bonds for volunteer fire department projects and equipment.

(a) The State Fire Commission may, by resolution, in accordance with the provisions of this article, issue revenue bonds of the Commission to finance the cost of construction of facilities or the provision of equipment to volunteer fire departments or to refund, at the discretion of the Commission, bonds issued to finance the cost of the construction of facilities or the provision of equipment. The principal of, interest and redemption premium, if any, on such bonds shall be payable solely from the special fund provided for payment.
(b) The State Fire Commission may, in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution of West Virginia, issue general obligation bonds from time to time as authorized by referendum pursuant to resolution duly adopted by the Legislature, to finance the cost of construction of facilities and provision of equipment for volunteer fire departments in this state.
§29-3D-6. State Fire Commission Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund in State Treasury; collections to be paid into special fund; authority to pledge the collections as security for refunding revenue bonds; authority to finance projects on a cash basis.

There is continued in the State Treasury a Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund to be expended by the Commission as provided in this article. The Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund shall be an interest-bearing account with interest credited to and deposited in the Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund and expended in accordance with the provisions of this article.
The State Fire Commission may pledge all or any part of the revenues paid into the Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund that are needed to meet the requirements of any revenue bond issue or issues authorized by this article prior to the twentieth day of July, two thousand eight, or revenue bonds issued to refund revenue bonds issued prior to that date, including the payment of principal of, interest and redemption premium, if any, on the revenue bonds and the establishing and maintaining of a reserve fund or funds for the payment of the principal of, interest and redemption premium, if any, on the revenue bond issue or issues when other moneys pledged may be insufficient for the payment of the principal, interest and redemption premium, including any additional protective pledge of revenues that the Commission in its discretion has provided by resolution authorizing the issuance of the bonds or in any trust agreement made in connection with the bond issue. Additionally, the Commission may provide in the resolution and in the trust agreement for priorities on the revenues paid into the Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund that are necessary for the protection of the prior rights of the holders of bonds issued at different times under the provisions of this article.
Any balance remaining in the Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund after the Commission has issued bonds authorized by this article and after the requirements of all funds, including reserve funds established in connection with the bonds issued prior to the twentieth day of July, two thousand eight, pursuant to this article have been satisfied may be used for the redemption of any of the outstanding bonds issued under this article which by their terms are then redeemable, or for the purchase of the bonds at the market price, but not exceeding the price, if any, at which the bonds are in the same year redeemable and all bonds redeemed or purchased shall immediately be canceled and shall not again be issued.
The State Fire Commission, in its discretion, may use the moneys in the Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund to finance the cost of construction of facilities or provision of equipment as authorized in accordance with the provisions of this article on a cash basis. Any pledge of moneys in the fund for revenue bonds issued prior to the twentieth day of July, two thousand eight, is a prior and superior charge on the fund over the use of any of the moneys in the fund to pay for the cost of any project on a cash basis: Provided, That any expenditures from the fund, other than for the retirement of revenue bonds, may only be made by the Commission in accordance with the provisions of this article.



NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to establish a grant program for volunteer fire departments. Toward this end the bill provides for grant funding; defines certain terms and phrases; creates the Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program; provides for guidelines and procedures by legislative rule; provides for awards and grants; provides additional powers of State Fire Commission for administering the Volunteer Fire Department Grant Program; creates the State Fire Commission Volunteer Fire Department Project Fund to be maintained in the State Treasury; provides collections are to be paid into special fund; grants State Fire Commission authority to pledge the collections as security for refunding revenue bonds; and, provides the Commission authority to finance projects on a cash basis.

This article is new; therefore, strike-throughs and underscoring have been omitted.
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