November 12, 2009
The questions and answers below are those which have come about thus far in the granting process. They are meant to provide guidance. If further clarification is needed, do not hesitate to contact the Office of Grants and Research (OGR). Additionally, if during any part of the contracting process or even after, circumstances in your department change, contact OGR as soon as you know and we will address your concerns on a case-by-case basis with all reasonable consideration.
- Question: Can my city/town request or impose budget cuts or reductions on the fire department as a result of its receiving this stimulus funding?
Answer: Cities and towns may not request that departments reduce their budget or cut a department's budget based on its having received this stimulus funding. If cuts by the city/town are based purely on a department receiving stimulus funds then that would be considered supplanting, which is strictly prohibited.
- Question: What if my city/town recently elected a new mayor or the chief is leaving and I need a new authorized signatory?
Answer: Request a new Authorized Signatory form from your grant manager and resubmit it as soon as possible. It is no problem to change or add an authorized signatory during the life of the grant.
- Question: How many quarters will my department report on?
Answer: Because most contracts are being executed midway through a quarter, your department will be required to submit a total of five reports. For example, if your contract starts November 15, in the first quarterly report, you will report just activities and expenditures occurring through December 30. The next three reports will each cover a full quarter. The fifth and final report will cover activities and expenditures for the portion of the last quarter ending November 14, 2010. If your contract starts on the first day of a quarter (e.g., Jan. 1), then you will submit four quarterly reports.
- Question: What if during the course of this grant it becomes too cumbersome to manage or we run into other difficulties with administering it within our department?
Answer: Please let your grant manager know as soon as possible and OGR will make the determination of what to do on a case-by-case basis. Early termination of your contract under these circumstances will not be a factor should you apply for funds from EOPSS in the future.
- Question: I have a firefighter who may be deployed for military duty after he is hired back using these grant funds. Can I use the funds to pay the difference between what he earns in the military and what he would be earning as a firefighter?
Answer: No. The funds may not be used for the purpose you proposed. However, once a contract has been executed and you have information that a laid-off firefighter who has already been brought back is going to be deployed, you may contact OGR to discuss utilizing funds to bring back another laid-off firefighter.
- Question: I have firefighters who are unwilling to commit to returning to the department if offered a position. What if I cannot determine if they will return until after the contract is executed? What if they decide not to return?
Answer: If the number of laid-off firefighters for which you were awarded funding does not match the number willing and able to return, the grant amount will have to be reduced through a contract amendment. This can occur at any point during the grant period. You may also choose to wait to execute your contract until you know the final number of returning firefighters. If the number remains constant, OGR would work with you to change the beginning and end dates of your contract. If the number of firefighters will be different, we will prepare a new contract with new dates and the reduced amount. We will work with you to identify the start and end dates for a 12-month grant period that make sense for your department.
- Question: If I have exhausted my lay-off list, meaning that all firefighters who were laid-off from my department have either agreed to come back to work or have declined my offer to come back to work, can I hire a new firefighter off of the civil service lay-off list?
Answer: No. The funds that were awarded in Round I were for the express purpose of rehiring firefighters who were laid-off from your department. These funds may not be used to hire a new firefighter, even if that firefighter was laid-off from another department.
Follow-up: Will that position be considered lost to attrition and added to the Round 2 request for funds to fill positions lost to attrition?
Answer: Not exactly. The information in the application will not be changed, however the circumstances will be noted and your application will be considered in Round 2.
- Question: If I rehire Firefighter "Joe Smith" and then future budget cuts are made and I am forced to lay off firefighters again, can I use the funds that were supporting "Joe Smith" to fund a more senior firefighter in order to prevent that more senior firefighter from being laid off?
Answer: Yes. All departments must follow their own rules and regulations regarding seniority and lay-offs. Please notify OGR as soon as possible if these circumstances arise and before there is any change in your expected expenditures or allocations.
- Question: Can I get any documentation, such as a letter, to give to the City Treasurer that these funds have been awarded on a reimbursement basis to my department so that they will not prevent the rehiring of firefighters since it will appear that we are operating on a deficit?
Answer: The documentation and explanation of this being a reimbursement grant is described in the AGF and was part of the PowerPoint presentation on November 6. You may also show this document to your City Treasurer. If he or she still needs more information, he or she may call your OGR grant manager.
- Question: Are there steps that can be taken to ensure that reimbursements come in a timely fashion so that cities/towns can reconcile accounts at the end of their fiscal year?
Answer: If a city or town cannot work with the 28-day reimbursement period upon receipt of an approved request for reimbursement as dictated by the Office of the State Comptroller, you should contact your OGR grant manager. We will do our best to address this with you.
- Question: In terms of reporting, do you want actual hours worked per individual per reporting period?
Answer: Yes. We need the cumulative number of actual hours worked by each individual being paid with ARRA funding.