Contract gives officials financial oversight of NY fire dept.

An investigation found up to $5 million missing from a volunteer fire department's funds; the agreement requires the department to provide detailed expenditure reports

MAHOPAC, N.Y. — A New York fire department will face greater financial scrutiny after city officials discovered  $5 million was stolen last year. reported the Mahopoc Volunteer Fire Department will have to provide town officials with more oversight of their finances due to a new contract agreement between the town and department.

The board passed the resolution, which also included contracts for the towns two other fire departments, with a 4-0 vote.

The agreement requires the department to hold monthly meetings open to the public, provide detailed reports of its expenditures to town officials, ensure vacancies in the offices of directors and commissioners occurring during the contract period are filled and require each board member undergo annual Firemen's Association of the State of New York training.

“The town board has been in negotiations with the fire commission and had a very positive dialogue with respect to these changes,” said Supervisor Ken Schmitt. “We have implemented some fiscal safeguards—we have been asked to do this [by the public].”

Chuck Lewis, the department's current treasurer and a member of the fire department board, said the department created safeguards of their own since the theft was discovered.

“We closed every account we had and opened up new accounts under new numbers,” he said. “Everything we do is now in QuickBooks and we have hired a new accounting firm — O’Conner and Davis — to do the annual audit. We are tracking everything to the penny.”

An investigation into the theft is ongoing.

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