Photo by ctblogger 04.2010
With all the scrutinizing over the city's allocation to grant agencies and schools, it should come to a surprise that this year's budget proposal includes a line item that has no accountability.
During the public health and safety ad-hoc committee meeting, councilman Jack Knapp brought up the issue of a line item of 425,000 dollars in the Fire Department budget that goes to the volunteer fire department and questioned how the money was used. What happens next is quite remarkable as the members of the council admit that there is no accountability for the money used by the department.
COUNCILMAN VISCONTI: I just think that we are giving out almost a half a million dollars here. I think we should have some type of record keeping so we know what it's being spent on.
FIRE CHIEF HERALD: It's certainly a legitimate question.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CAVO: Just for historical perspective…a couple of years ago, the previous director of finance made a request to all the receiving agencies that received money to supply that office with an accounting of their records…I believe that some departments complied and some did not. I still think that's totally possible for the director of finance to request that from them. They should absolutely request that from the director of finance.
FIRE CHIEF HERALD: Similar as they do with the grant agencies.
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CAVO: Yes. If the grant agencies can do it…
COUNCILWOMAN STANLEY: Can they do that for this year's budget?
COUNCIL PRESIDENT CAVO: I don't know if they would have to get that to us before we vote.
FIRE CHIEF HERALD: Well, whether you…a dispersal is different than voting I would say—
COUNCILWOMAN STANLEY: That's right—
FIRE CHIEF HERALD: When is the dispersal?
FINANCE DIRECTOR: Usually, funds are dispersed in July. In some cases, it's distributed four times a year.
COUNCILWOMAN DEEP: You can distributed it whenever you want right?
FINANCE DIRECTOR: Well, with the grant agencies you like to do it on some type of pre-determined basis…so it's clear and they can budget accordingly…
UNKNOWN COUNCILMAN: What determines that number [allocation to the volunteer fire department].
FIRE CHIEF HERALD: That number has been the same for about eight years from what I can see…
AD-HOC CHAIR (Charles Trombetta): I think that even that is about part of the budget…all the questions are legitimate, we need to have a separate ad-hoc committee to look into that…
With all due respect to the volunteer fire department, with over 400,000 in taxpayer's money being given to a department with no accountability on how the money is unacceptable…and according to members of the council, this is not the first time this issue was discussed.
In the past, the council has voted to withhold allocating money to a non profit agency without a first having detailed account of how the money was to be used by that agency. If the council demanded accountability for grant agencies (in the thousands of dollars), and scrutinize the this year's allocation to the education budget to the penny, when it comes to a situation where almost a half million dollars is in consideration, surely the council should have SOME CLUE on how the allocation of fund to the volunteer fire department is being used.
Simply put, there should not be a double standard. The council should not allocate anything until they have a detailed analysis on how this extremely large sum of money is being used.
...food for thought.