NEW INFO: Chesapeake VFD to Repay $10K in Expenses after Audit

By: WSAZ News Staff; Cathleen Moxley; The Associated Press Email
By: WSAZ News Staff; Cathleen Moxley; The Associated Press Email

UPDATE 5/20/13 @ 8:20 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) -- A West Virginia volunteer fire department under scrutiny for its finances must repay $10,000 in state funding.

Legislative auditors say the Chesapeake VFD was unable to provide records showing how it spent most of that money.

The report given Monday to legislative leaders said the remaining $600 improperly paid the water bill of a car wash in December 2011.

The review focused on more than $42,300 in state and other funds after the VFD wrongly comingled the money.

Auditors were unable to review Chesapeake's finances earlier this year after it failed to provide records. With all but $9,400 since accounted for, the audit calls for the repayment as well as a separate account for state-provided funds.

Legislators were told the VFD agreed with the audit's findings and recommendations.

UPDATE 2/7/13 @ 10 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The Kanawha County Prosecutor's Office is looking into the financial records of the Chesapeake Volunteer Fire Department.

Prosecutor Mark Plants isn't releasing many details about the investigation at this time.

The investigation comes on the heels of the state's audit of the department.

Last year, the County Commission voted to audit the department after consistent financial problems.

The department's funding was eventually pulled because they failed to provide the proper documents to the state.

Keep clicking on for the latest information.

UPDATE 11/28/12 @ 6:40 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A volunteer fire department that brings in millions of dollars still isn't paying all of its bills.

Despite many attempts to look at the Chesapeake Volunteer Fire Department’s financial records, commissioners say the department still won't hand them all over.

It all started when the Kanawha Valley Regional Transportation Authority told the Kanawha County Commission that the fire department wasn't paying its fuel bill. So commissioners voted to do an audit on the department's finances.

“What we found was appalling. They hadn't paid their CPA, they hadn't kept good accurate records and they have millions of dollars going through their bingo and raffle game,” Commissioner Dave Hardy said.

Commissioners still can't get to the bottom of how that money is being spent. The fire department won’t hand over the last few records unless commissioners sign a confidentiality agreement.

"To be given a confidentiality agreement from a public fire department, non profit, not paying taxes is just mind boggling and unacceptable,” Hardy said. “To add insult to injury, 11 months later we get notice from KRT that they are still not paying for their fuel.”

Not paying for fuel, which only adds fuel to the department's financial fire.

“I am not gonna rest until this fire department is fully transparent,” Hardy said.

The last thing commissioners want is for the department to close. So to make sure that doesn't happen, they've stopped giving money directly to the department -- and instead pay for insurance and other necessities themselves.

As for paying KRT for fuel, the fire department has until Dec. 5 before that privilege is taken away.

Nobody with the fire department was available for comment on Wednesday.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A heated debate between a fire department and the county commission may have sparked change in how the department handles its financial records.

The Chesapeake Volunteer Fire Department neglected to hand over certain documents to an auditor this past winter.

The department provided several reasons for why that hasn't happened yet, and it all comes down to money.

“You drug your feet for months after this commission voted to do a simple audit,” Commissioner Dave Hardy said at a meeting Thursday.

In December, county commissioners asked to see several financial documents, but were told some are private and others weren't available.

At Thursday’s meeting, the fire chief said he had told the auditor no copies could be made, but that he was welcome to go through records at the department. Hardy responded, saying that wasn’t true. That’s when the chief accused Hardy of calling him a liar.

That debate went on for about an hour.

One of the main issues involves more than a million dollars made from raffle and bingo games conducted by the department.

The commission asked the department if any money was missing or had been misspent.

The answer was “no” and the chief said they have nothing to hide.

As for the audit delay, the department's accountant says it was years behind in the books because he was still waiting to be paid for previous years.

The department has agreed to hand over everything the commission has asked for. That includes information about the chief's salary that the auditor was previously told was private.

The department has agreed to have everything in by 4 p.m. Monday.

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