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State audit nicks Corfu Fire Department for undocumented expenditures

By Howard B. Owens

Now it's the Corfu Fire Department's turn for a little financial scrutiny.

In August, the NYS Comptroller's Office released a report on the Corfu Fire District that eventually led to the one-year suspension of two department members over alleged irregularities involving district credit cards.

This week the comptroller's office released audit finding on the fire department (the district and department are intertwined, but separate agencies) and while declaring there were no "material discrepancies," the audit states there are at least $7,000 in insufficiently documented expenses over a 20 month period.

Auditors said the checked 115 paid claims totaling $30,398 from January 2010 through August 2011 and 26 payments totaling $4,779 were not supported by any documentation. Additionally, 14 claims totaling $3,096 were not included on the list of approved bills prepared by the trustees.

"As a result, Trustees were unable to verify that these payments were for legitimate Department purposes and that the correct amounts were approved for payment," auditors said.

The audit also found that the department's treasurer did not reconcile the bank account in 2010, and though the account was reconciled monthly in 2011, the trustees did not review and approve the reconciliations.

The department meets Jan. 9 and will likely discuss the audit.

The department was first incorporated in 1882 as “Rescue Hook & Ladder Co. #1.” It currently has 35 members and an annual budget of $20,600.

Department revenue is generated through various fundraisers and donations. 

The fire district, which helps fund firefighting in Corfu, is taxpayer supported.


Kyle Couchman

John & Lincoln I appreciate both sides of this argument. When I got out of the Navy one of the skillsets I did have was that of fire and rescue, which I employed as a volunteer. These people do make sacrifices of time and personal hardship to save lives when called upon to. However there are rules and the State with the finances in the poor shape they are in, is a very harsh dictator. You have to balance both, but I just wish there was a regulatory body that could hold ALL of the State as accountable as they do other organizations in a case like this.

Dec 31, 2011, 2:38am Permalink
Michael Tost

I did my best to decipher all the lawyer "mumbo jumbo" in the audit, and saw at no point, where fire dept. funds were used for personal gain by any member. That said, without any details of what purchases were allegedly not approved, we can only speculate that this was just a simple mistake in paperwork on a volunteer's behalf. Howard,care to enlighten us on how this audit was brought to your attention? Do you have any other information on audits regarding other volunteer departments in the county? Just to put things in perspective of course.....

Dec 31, 2011, 3:01am Permalink
John Roach

The audit here did not say anyone was being investigated or did any wrong, it basically said poor paperwork. At that point, you just correct ther errors and try not to make them again. But to ignore the errors like Lincoln suggested would not be in any one's best interest.

As for the department, they are lucky to have volunteers and to even find somebody willing to keep the books knowing they will these audits.

Dec 31, 2011, 7:18am Permalink
Howard B. Owens

Michael, somebody e-mailed me. They did so anonymously.

And I checked the comptroller's web site and didn't see any other local audits.

Dec 31, 2011, 8:49am Permalink
Brian Schollard

This is the link to the comptrollers web site.

They audit every type of municipality and organization. I have not met any of the persons that were in Corfu to perform the audits but heard nice things about them.
In the case of the Fire Department, the auditor wanted the board of trustees to keep minuets of their meetings. They meet normally before the general monthly meeting of the membership, to review all bills. Any bills are then read aloud before the membership and approved or not for payment. All payments of any type made by the fire dept. are by check with 2 signatures.

The Comptrollers office came out to Corfu at the request of the Village Board. ( I heard this by word of mouth) The village Board wanted the state to audit them and since they were out here they figured they would audit the two other entities. The Fire District and Corfu Rescue Hook & Ladder Co # 1

Their will be one more Comptrollers audit to be released soon.

Dec 31, 2011, 9:22am Permalink

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