Fire Finance Reports Should Be Public

Another fire department was under the state comptroller’s microscope this month.

Lily Dale Volunteer Fire Department was not properly keeping track of finances, according to the findings issued last week.

“Without monthly reports, the executive committee does not have a means of assessing and monitoring the fire company’s financial operations,” the report said.

Unfortunately, without state comptroller investigations, many residents would not know this information. Most area fire agencies do not have to file 990 forms with the IRS due to a financial threshold that is not met. Because these agencies do not file, it is tough for taxpayers or donors to track where the funding goes.

Lily Dale has agreed to comply with future changes, but maybe it’s time for New York state to make it mandatory for all small volunteer departments to present public reports on their finances at municipal meetings.

Right now, the laws – or lack of them – make it too easy to hide where the money is going.