Wrightsville Fire Dept. must pay $3K fine
Updated: 12/10/2012 11:13:28 AM EST
The Wrightsville Volunteer Fire Department has agreed to pay a $3,000 fine to the state for failing to keep fundraising records.
An agreement between the nonprofit borough fire department and the state's Bureau of Charitable Organizations, part of the Department of State, was reached earlier in November and approved Nov. 28 by Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele, according to state records.
As part of the agreement, the fire department admitted it did not keep records on two former fundraising programs, a lunch wagon and a penny auction.
The lunch wagon ran Tuesdays through Fridays from January 2009 to August 2011, but the fire department was unable to determine if it made or lost money because no bookkeeping records were maintained, including receipts, ledgers or sales records, the agreement states.
Money lost: The department incurred more than $45,000 in expenses operating its penny auction, which ran for less than a year, according to the agreement. Again, no bookkeeping records were kept, the agreement states.
State law requires nonprofit agencies, including volunteer fire companies, to keep accurate financial records.
The Bureau of Charitable Organizations investigated the department after receiving a complaint, according to Matthew Keeler, deputy press secretary for the Department of State.
In addition to paying a $3,000 fine, the fire department agreed that if it fails to keep "true and accurate" financial records in the future, it will pay $1,100 a day in fines and penalties until the violations are fixed, the agreement states.
No misappropriation: Red Lion attorney D. Michael Craley represented the
fire department in the matter and said no one intended to violate state law, and there was no misappropriation of money.
"Everything was legitimate -- there were just not appropriate records kept," he said. "The fire company cooperated completely with (the state)."
Craley noted that in volunteer organizations, sometimes there are problems with record-keeping and turnover.
In this case, sometimes records weren't kept, but other records were destroyed, he said.
"A lot of the records were damaged ... or destroyed when (the department) had a flooded basement due to a leaky furnace," Craley said.
Discontinued: The fire department has now stopped doing both the lunch wagon and penny auction fundraisers, according to the attorney.
"(Nonprofits) try new things to raise money so they don't have to get it from the taxpayers," Craley said. "Sometimes when you try something new, it doesn't work."
Craley said the agreement was a reasonable resolution.