March 15, 2004

Dryden Courier on fire company audits

The March 10 issue of the Dryden Courier has an article on what last year's controversial audits have turned up. Tony Hall reports that Sciarabba, Walker and Company, LLP, have submitted complete audit reports for three of the four companies, the Neptune Hose Company of Dryden, the W.B Strong Company of Freeville, and the Varna Volunteer Fire Company. The firm has finished collecting information on the Etna Fire Department, though as that audit started much later than the others, it has not yet compiled a report.

Hall notes "a plea from the auditors that the three companies standardize their reports, to make it easier for the town to understand their financial positions in the future." Questions related to such standardization of information, especially during the budget process, also came up at the Town Board's January 25th special meeting with fire companies.

The two largest findings are that the W.B. Strong Company hasn't filed a tax return - "'maybe ever', Stelick said," and that Varna had lost between $40,000 and $50,000 in 2002 on investments, as it used a riskier strategy for managing its investments than had, for example, Neptune, which puts all of its money into certificates of deposit. The Varna investments seem to be coming back, and Strong doesn't owe taxes - as a non-profit, it doesn't pay them.

The report finds the companies sound and states that "It appears that major purchase decisions were arrived at only after thorough exploration of options and careful consideration by membership."

The audit also included on-site equipment inspections by Scott Pronti of the Lansing Fire Department, and found equipment to be "appropriate".

The table below summarizes the companies' current financial position.

CompanyCash and InvestmentsReplacement ReservesLong-term debt
Neptune Hose Company$616,563$515,784$347,018
W.B. Strong$381,091$371,384none
Varna Volunteer Fire Company$413,258$367,138$306,138
Posted by simon at March 15, 2004 12:04 PM in , ,
Note on photos