During the election season, I talked to the mayor, the town manager, and the fire chief about the fire department. One thing that came out of these conversations was the fact that the fire deparment still acts as its own, independent corporation even though it is now a town department. There seems to be no real financial accounting or reporting, so I have been told. The scary thing is that I was told that is no big deal and not a battle worthy of fighting. That is just plain absurd and irresponsible. If the fire department is receiving tax money or any sort of money from the town (regardless of whether it is from utility sales or taxation) for its funding, then every citizen should be able to look at a report and see where the money is being spent, an account of budgets, and feel confident that the town is spending their money wisely. If we have no such reporting, then this should be required IMMEDIATELY. That was my stance then, it is my stance now.
Here is part of "The Selma News" story.
Audit finds ‘weaknesses’ in town’s accounting
By Kelly Lake, News Editor 17.NOV.05
Town’s fire department still being operated as though it were a separate department, says auditor
The town of Selma’s 2004 annual audit, received by Town Council Tuesday night, pointed out numerous “material weaknesses” that the auditor said the town should be aware of..
Although the auditor pronounced the town’s finances “clean,” which means that the town is in sound financial shape, he did point out areas where attention is needed.
One of those areas involves how the town handles the fire department. The auditor reported that even though the town formally made the fire department a town department in 2004, it is still operating the fire department as though it were a separate entity.
“As of June 30, 2005 it was determined that all transactions related to the fire operations had been recorded as though this remained a separate entity,” said the audit. “Transfers were made to the fire department and recorded as town expenditures, for contracted service reimbursements to firefighters. These funds, along with other revenues, were deposited in one of several separate bank accounts maintained by the fire department over which town finance staff had no control or knowledge thereof.”