By Johnny Kampis / March 8, 2017
Two recent state auditor reports commended one Pittsburgh-area volunteer firefighter association while knocking a second one for not correcting an ongoing financial issue that has since been fixed.
The North Strabane Township Volunteer Fire Department Firemen’s Relief Association had insufficient surety bond coverage, according to the office of Auditor General Eugene DePasquale.
The association had cash assets of $121,144 at the end of 2015 — the end of the examination period — but its bond coverage was only for a maximum of $100,000. The auditor’s report noted this was also an issue during the past audit of the association in 2012.
Peter Coffey, the president of the relief association, told Watchdog.org that at the maximum North Strabane was short about $50,000 in coverage. He said the auditor looks at the highest balance over the audit period and requires enough bond coverage for that.
“Even though we don’t normally carry that amount of cash for very long we still have to carry bonding for it,” Coffey said.
He noted the state requires such bonding for safety reasons — to prevent malfeasance such as embezzlement from clearing out a relief association’s funds.
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During the audit exit conference on Dec. 16, 2016, relief association management agreed with the audit findings and increased the bond coverage to an amount greater than cash assets, the audit reported and Coffey confirmed. The report said the office will monitor the association to ensure it maintains sufficient bond coverage through its next audit.
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