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State audit uncovers $80K in unclaimed funds for Pa. city firefighters

Auditor General Eugene DePasquale recovered $80,814 for the Coal Township Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association that was sitting unclaimed with the treasury

By Eric Scicchitano
The Daily Item

COAL TOWNSHIP, Pa. — The state Auditor General recovered $80,814 for the Coal Township Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association that sat unclaimed with the Pennsylvania Treasury.

The Treasury received the money after a trust fund became dormant for lack of use and was reported, according to Auditor General Eugene DePasquale. The matter was discovered by the Auditor General’s Office during a routine audit of the Relief Association.

“This did not rise to the level where we were overly concerned about it and would notify law enforcement,” DePasquale said. “If it was just sitting in a 2 percent checking account it would have been better off. It was just sitting in recovery, doing nothing.”

The recovered funding initially was state money—the township’s portion of a 2 percent tax on insurance sold in Pennsylvania by out-of-state firms. Such funding is split between state pensions and relief associations across the state, DePasquale said. Associations use it for equipment purchases.

The Relief Association invested the money and earned interest over the years, according to Dave Mrozowski, treasurer, Coal Township Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association. However, the fund was sold by one investment fund to another and the firemen’s association was never identified, he said. Eventually, it was deemed unclaimed and turned over to the state.

Mrozowski said the Relief Association made failed attempts to recover the funding before the Auditor General’s Office stepped in. He said the state Treasury expects to cut a check in the next week.

“We knew it was there. It was just a matter of getting it back off of them,” Mrozowski said. “It’s not a windfall, it’s our money.”

According to Mrozowski, the Relief Association recently spent $65,000 on emergency pagers and radios that weren’t replaced when Northumberland County’s 911 center was upgraded. Additional radios and pagers are still needed, he said.

“Guess where that money’s going,” Mrozowski said.

The audit of the Coal Township Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association spanned from 2014 through 2016. There were three findings: failure to monitor investment activity, noncompliance with prior audit recommendations for insufficient bond coverage and failure to obtain a Pennsylvania sales tax exemption number.

Mrozowski accepted fault for the failed monitoring of investments. The bond issue was addressed, increasing coverage from $300,000 beyond its cash assets of $371,352, he said. Also, he said the association is working to obtain a sales tax exemption number.

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