Polk discusses requiring fire/rescue audits

Published 11:29 pm Sunday, March 31, 2013

Polk County addressed a concern from one commissioner during its March 18 meeting regarding audits for the Polk County Rescue Squad and the county’s six fire departments.

The Polk County Board of Commissioners met March 18 and heard from commissioner Ray Gasperson who said last year the county granted the Columbus Fire Department an increase in its tax rate (one cent), but also had requests from the Mill Spring Fire Department and rescue squad. He said one of the reasons the Mill Spring and rescue requests were denied had to do with lack of recent audits.

Gasperson said for all he knows the county will be seeing other requests during this year’s budget process and wanted to know how other commissioners felt about requiring audits for the departments, or the county paying or helping to pay for those audits.

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Polk County Finance Director Sandra Hughes said she received Tryon Fire Department’s audit for 2011 and is waiting on its 2012 audit. Saluda doesn’t have an audit every year anymore, she said, with the last one being in 2006. The last audit she has from all the fire departments and rescue is from 2006, when the county paid to have those done.

Columbus and Tryon Fire Departments do annual audits.

Gasperson said he spoke with Columbus Fire Chief Bobby Arledge who is a strong advocate of annual audits.

“(Arledge) said it helps to avoid any mismanagement of funds and takes care of safety concerns and how money is spent,” Gasperson said.

Gasperson said an audit costs about $10,000 a year for a fire department.

Gasperson also said the Mill Spring Fire Department is getting an audit as well but the county does not have a report yet.

“I’m asking for discussion,” Gasperson said. “How do we view audits from these different organizations? I’d like to have annual audits even if we had to help supplement (the costs); either helping or an increase in tax rates for annual audits. No one is making accusations that there’s been any mismanagement.”