Audit reveals problems with Taylorstown Volunteer Firefighters’ Relief Assn.
A state audit of the Taylorstown Volunteer Firefighters’ Relief Association uncovered several problems, including inadequate documentation of more than $75,000 in expenditures.
According to the audit, completed by the state auditor general’s office, the relief association did not maintain invoices and other documentation to verify expenditures, and failed to provide adequate supporting documentation for $75,783 of expenditures made during the audit period 2008 to 2012.
The audit report lists more than 70 checks without invoices or documentation, including a check from August 28, 2010, for $3,600 made out to “cash.”
The auditor general’s office notified Buffalo and Blaine townships in writing that the association’s 2014 allocation of state aid may be withheld unless the fireman’s relief association takes steps to comply with findings from the audit.
The audit found the association also improperly pre-signed blank checks, obtained only one signature on three checks even though two signatures are required, failed to keep adequate minutes of meetings and neglected to maintain a complete and accurate equipment roster. The relief association also spent funds for items it was not authorized to pay for, including vehicle repairs, dress uniforms and fundraising supplies.
A prior audit report identified many of the same problems, which the fireman’s association failed to correct.
In the audit, the attorney general’s office writes, “We are concerned with the volunteer firefighters’ relief association’s failure to correct the previously reported audit findings.”
Buffalo Township and Blaine Township disperse state funds to the Taylorstown Volunteer Fire Department, and Buffalo Township supervisors said they are concerned about the audit results.
“A few good people have tried to help make it better but it hasn’t worked,” said Buffalo Township Supervisor James Mounts. “They have poor management and poor direction. It’s not good.”
Rob Strain, who has served as secretary/treasurer of the relief association since January, said the organization is working with the auditor general’s office to rectify the problems.
“The biggest issue with us is getting files and invoices together. We’re matching up invoices with checks,” said Strain, who added that no money is missing. “We’re going for transparency so the townships can see exactly what we’re doing.”
The relief assocation has been plagued with financial management problems in recent years. In 2008, the former fire department treasurer and fire chief, William McDonough, who was also the treasurer of the Taylorstown Volunteer Firefighters’ Relief Association, pleaded guilty to theft and receiving stolen property from the fire department totalling $50,000. He paid $30,000 in restitution to the fire department and was sentenced to pay an additional $20,000 in restitution to the fire department and to serve four years of probation.
Mounts wants accountability from the relief association, which gets taxpayers’ money in the form of state aid and also solicits donations from township residents.
In 2011 and 2012, the association was allocated more than $26,000 in state aid from Blaine and Buffalo townships, and held fundraisers and fund drives.
Supervisor Jack Levy said it is in the best interest of the township to have adequate fire protection, but the township cannot distribute money to the fire department if it is not capable of managing funds.
“We hope they get straightened out regarding financial resources, and we support their efforts to do that. They’ve displayed less than adequate management practices,” said Levy, who noted it can be difficult for volunteers to manage all accounting requirements. “I don’t consider that an excuse for not doing it properly and I respect and support the consequences in the resulting action by the state’s auditor general.”