Polk discusses fire audits every three years

Published 4:58 pm Monday, April 8, 2013


Polk County Commissioners will be discussing audits for its six fire departments during this year’s budget discussions as well as whether or not the county will be paying for or helping to pay for those audits.

Commissioners met April 1 and heard from commissioner Keith Holbert, who suggested the county consider a three-year rotation of audits, with two departments receiving audits every year. He recommended that the county look at funding some of the costs of the audits during this year’s budget discussions, which begin next month.

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Commissioner Ray Gasperson said the issue has been hanging out there since 2008 because of the fire departments’ contracts with the county. Most of the contracts require an annual audit of the fire departments.

Commissioners asked county attorney Jana Berg to review the departments’ contracts.

Gasperson brought up fire and rescue audits last month. Gasperson brought up the issue asking other commissioners how they respond when different organizations ask for increased tax rates. Last year the county granted the Columbus Fire Department a one-cent tax increase but denied the Mill Spring Fire Department an increase due to Mill Spring not having a recent audit. Columbus and Tryon fire departments receive annual audits. Most others haven’t received an audit since 2006 when the county paid for them through the general fund.

On April 1, Holbert asked interim county manager Marche Pittman to give a report on how many audits have been done on the fire departments since 2008 and also asked during budget discussions commissioners check to see whether or not the county can help funding audits.

One citizen comment was made on the topic from Renée McDermott, who said it sounds like commissioners are going forward with audits and she’s pleased to hear that.

“Audits are not only for finding ‘who did it’ after the fact,” McDermott said. “They’re like having a health check-up for a business. They’re for looking to see if the organization is using financial methods that could be improve to ensure safety for the funds the organization manages and to guard against the temptations that naturally arise when those methods are too loose.”

Commissioners have scheduled budget work sessions for May 13, 14 and 16 and the 17th if needed. The work sessions will begin at 3 p.m. each day with fire departments and Harmon Field presenting their budgets to commissioners on May 16 at 6 p.m. The new fiscal year will begin July 1.