Last night the Washington Fire Company was on the agenda at the meeting of Conshohocken’s Borough Council. The room was filled, three television news crews were there, and council members were more dressed up than usual.
Before the attorney for the Washington Fire Company made the presentation, Borough Manager Stephanie Cecco made a statement that was mostly information that was part of the previous statements released by the Borough (one, two, and three), but did go into more detail on the Borough’s financial concerns. In recent years there were two transfers from the Washington Fire Company’s bank account it utilized for public money to its general fund account. The transfers were $3,000 and what is described as “over $10,000” (in the below video see 25:00). The transfers were not reconciled.
After Cecco spoke, the attorney for the fire company spoke (read his statement here) and stated that the fire company had nothing to hide, would comply with the audit and proposed that the fire company put $13,000 in escrow while the audit takes place. The escrow proposal is a bid by the fire company to have the fire trucks returned quickly so it can reopen now without having to wait until the completion of the audit. The $13,000 corresponds to the amount of money that Cecco stated wasn’t reconciled.
Did any of the questions posed by MoreThanTheCurve.com to Borough Council get answered during the meeting? Not really.
Our first question was whether Borough Council took a vote to remove the firetrucks and if so, what was the outcome (did anyone oppose it)? In the above video (23:00) Cecco states that “the council was left with no choice but to take action.” While it is not as clear an answer as we think is necessary, it does answer whether this was an action taken at the direction of the council.
Our second question was a follow-up to No. 1 and becomes irrelevant with the new information.
Just before Cecco made the statement at the 23:00 point in the video, she mentions that there was an email sent by the fire company’s treasurer stating that the fire company would provide financial information on the public money, but not the private money. Our third question asked which laws obligated the fire company to share its financial records involving its private money. We still do not have an answer to that.
The fourth question involved why the decision was made to remove the fire trucks without any warning. This was not answered and the only criticism the Borough Council received last night during public comment was how it handled the situation (specifically removing the fire trucks without warning).
Questions No. 5 and No. 6 again involved the process of how it was handled. We did not get answers on why neighboring fire companies weren’t notified that this was going to happen and we did not get an answer on whether all the fire trucks removed from the fire company were now stationed at Conshohocken Fire Company No. 2. The Borough can claim that it is providing the same level of service, but if there are fire trucks parked elsewhere, it is not offering a complete picture of the situation.
More to come.