Fire company seeks status change: Non-profit qualifies for grant money

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From left, Granville Town Board members Jim Bradt and Tom Cosey, supervisor Matt Hicks and board members Matt Rathbun and Ken Quick on May 12.
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The Granville Town Board will host a public hearing on June 9 at 7:30 p.m. to allow the public to speak on the North Granville Hose Company’s desire to amend its certificate of incorporation in order to qualify for grant money.

Granville town attorney Mike Catalfimo explained to the board and attending public on May 12 that North Granville’s fire department needs specific language to provisions in its certificate of incorporation to be listed as a 501c3 non-profit, a designation required by the Granville Community Foundation and other groups to receive grant money.

“The North Granville Hose Company is a corporation that was formed in the 1940s under what was then the Corporation Law of the state of New York,” Catalfimo said. “That since has become the Non-For-Profit Corporation Law of the state of New York. There are a number of provisions in that law that regulate how and under what circumstances pursuant to what procedure someone can form a fire company in the first instance, and also how they can amend or modify their incorporation documents after they already exist. This is the latter case. The North Granville Hose Company wants to amend their certificate of incorporation.”

The Granville Community Foundation said on May 10 it is willing to give North Granville Hose Company $6,400 to purchase two blitzfire nozzles that would only require one firefighter to operate and not two, as long as the company’s 501c3 status is secured.

North Granville Hose Company’s station.

The town of Granville is divided into three fire districts, North Granville, Middle Granville (Penrhyn Engine & Hose Company) and South Granville (Granville Engine & Hose Company #1).

Both Middle Granville and South Granville’s fire departments are listed as 501c3 non-profit organizations, with Granville Engine & Hose Company #1 selected as a grant recipient by the Granville Community Foundation to the tune of $10,000 to go towards a $50,000 fire training facility.

“They (North Granville Hose Company) can’t change the provisions of their certificate of incorporation unless you, the town board, consent,” Catalfimo said.

“You, the town board, can’t consent to the change of a certificate of incorporation without having a public hearing in which the public has the opportunity to say whatever it is they have to say, whether it’s a good idea, a bad idea, whatever,” Catalfimo said.

“The statute says you have to have a public hearing, you have to advertise the public hearing in the official newspaper in the town publishing in Washington County (the Granville Sentinel) once a week for two consecutive weeks prior to the holding of the meeting.”

Asked by NYVTmedia in public comment session what amendments would be made to the certificate of incorporation, Catalfimo said the “vast majority of them are all designed to mirror specific language that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) wants to have in a certificate of incorporation.”

“Having to do with things like no part of the net earnings of the corporation can be distributed to any of its members, “Catalfimo said. “In the event that the organization is ever dissolved, its assets, unlike an ordinary business corporation, don’t go to the members of the corporation. They are distributed to another charitable organization that is organized for similar purposes.

“It establishes a minimum and maximum number of directors for the corporation, no less than three and no more than seven. Just hitting some of the high points here.”

North Granville Fire Chief Scott McCullen said his company already practices the majority of the proposed amendments, it just needs to be in updated writing.

“Really, it’s nothing,” McCullen said. “We’re not trying to do anything more than what we do now, just want to update things and get the 501c3 status.”

Supervisor Matt Hicks reiterated McCullen’s sentiments, acknowledging the company’s efforts to go through the proper process.

“The original one (certificate of incorporation) was 1944. As you can imagine, from 1944 to now, the landscape has changed,” Hicks said. ‘They’re not changing the structure of the fire department, they’re just making sure they are complying with what the IRS is looking for in structure and parameters.”

Catalfimo provided the board a proposed draft of the certificate of amendment to the certificate of incorporation provided by the North Granville Hose Company’s legal team, a proposed resolution that was eventually passed by the board to schedule the public hearing and declare a State Environmental Quality Review classification to be conducted and the legal notice of the scheduled public hearing.

“Scott’s (McCullen) trying to make everything fit for them to get their status, and I didn’t know they had to come ask us for this,” Hicks said. “The attorneys spoke and said this is the way to handle this. Mike (Catalfimo) reviewed it, their attorneys reviewed it, they’re happy, we’re happy. It’s the thing to do, it’s just a procedural pain in the neck to go through all of these steps.”

The one main concern to board member Matt Rathbun was making sure the address to the new town offices was correct and consistent on all the documentation. May 12 was the first board meeting held in the new town offices located at 14 East Main St., the former home of Manchester Newspapers and NYVTmedia.

Rathbun pointed out the resolution and public hearing documents had two different addresses on East Main Street. The issue was noted and was immediately revised.