Auditor puts end to rumor about misuse of funds

Published 4:16 pm Saturday, September 20, 2003

By By BEN RAYMOND LODE / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- Rumors that Howard Township's Fire Department is under investigation by the Michigan Department of Treasury were put to an end at this week's Howard township's board meeting.
Jim Scarpone, Howard Township's auditor, said the incorrect information surfaced after an ill-informed member of the community spread rumors that the firefighters had an unaudited "slush fund."
Scarpone was present at Tuesday's meeting to present his annual audit report of the township.
The rumor that has been circulating apparently involves monies the Howard Township firefighters raise during pancake breakfasts and other fund-raising events, Scarpone said.
The money is used to help people who live in the township, volunteer firefighters who attended the meeting explained.
However, when Howard Township Fire Department uses "township" in its name, it raises questions as to whose funds those monies are, said Scarpone.
Scarpone said the issue is common in many small townships.
He said the fire department, which wishes to remain in control of the money they raise during fund-raisers, have two options.
One option is to become a non-profit organization, which would give the fire department control of the money they raise, Scarpone said.
Or, it could remove the word "township" from the fire department's name, which would also give the fire department control of the money, he said.
Scarpone also told the public Howard Township is in very good financial shape, despite its limited resources.
The Howard township board, which was expecting a $27,000 budget shortfall for the last fiscal year, instead ended up with a $209 revenue surplus, he said.
In other business this week, the board also announced residents can get flu and pneumonia shots at the Township Office on Wednesday, Nov. 5, from 9 a.m. to noon. Call for appointment after Sept. 29.
In addition, the board gave Jeanne Harroff a certificate of appreciation for her service to the township, which started in 1984. The board also approved a resolution to accept fees under the Metro Act. The act deals with telecommunications companies paying the township fees to use the right of way when conducting business in the township.