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Springfield advocates greater fire company oversight


Springfield Township is moving toward greater oversight of its volunteer fire company. The company, based in Springtown, may soon have to submit a monthly treasurer report as well as a volume of calls report to the township, which accounts for more than 70 percent of its funding.

“It needs to be held accountable just as the board is accountable,” said acting Township Manager Jason Wager at last week’s meeting. Supervisors were receptive to Wager’s suggestion to form a fire advisory board to address the decline in responders and review purchasing.

Briefing the board in October, acting Supervisor Chairman Jim Nilsen said the company bungled a grant it had received and was thus ineligible to apply for further grants, and he called for some oversight because taxpayer money was involved.

A resident, who did not wish to be identified, also expressed concern. “We as a township give $146,000 to $162,000 to our volunteer fire company every year so we have to make sure that money is being handled properly.” This year, the township has budgeted $204,000 for the organization.

Township auditor Cheri Freeh, invited by Supervisor Nilsen to give guidance on audit procedures, told board members that it was becoming more common to require accountability when donating taxpayer dollars but noted audits were expensive for small nonprofits. Freeh said the township could implement an agreed upon procedures agreement to address areas of concern, that would examine all expenditures over a specific dollar amount and over a specific time period.

In its August budget presentation, the volunteer company outlined several major expenses over the next several years: repair of the concrete floor in its engine bays at a cost of more than $40,000, the resurfacing of its lot, and new coat of paint for the building; it is also planning to acquire a replacement quint truck by 2032, which is projected to cost at least $940,000.

In other business, board members approved a $3,600 tree-removal contract to protect Gallows Hill cemetery, which contains the graves of Revolutionary war veterans, prominent local residents, Indians and the indigent, according to records.

Supervisors also unanimously appointed Richard W. Pursell as roadmaster with a tentative start date of Dec. 9. Pursell, the son of retiring roadmaster Rich Pursell, was among 15 interviewees for the position.