State firefighters’ fund scorched by criticism

April 26, 1994 (~estimated)

State firefighters’ fund scorched by criticism

TRENTON (AP) — A state tax-funded firefighters’ charity distributes only 40 percent of its collections to needy firemen and their families, while it spends millions on administrative costs, The Record of Hacken-sack reported yesterday.

The New Jersey State Firemen’s Association also has accrued nearly $90 million in bank and bond ac-counts, as the state faces a budget deficit.

State Sen. Louis Kosco, R-Paramus, chairman of the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee, which has jurisdiction over the NJSFA, told The Record he was surprised by the findings.

“I think this cries out for an investigation and audit by (the state Department of Insurance) so they can present a full report to the commit-tee,” he said.

Kosco added he planned to review the state attorney general’s 1987 recommendation to determine whether the law setting up the NJSFA should be overhauled.

Over the years, the NJSFA collected $89 million in cash reserves under a 109-year-old state law that imposes a 2 percent tax on premiums on fire insurance policies sold by out-of-state companies. Fire insurance premiums range from about $320 for the average homeowner to more than $10,000 for businesses, according to the state Insurance Department.

In 1992, the last year for which figures are available, the NJSFA and its 530 affiliates received $12 3 million, distributing only $4.9 million as benefits to indigent firefighters and their widows for burial stipends and benefits.

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