By NIKKI YOUNK
AURORA, Wis. - Members of the Aurora Volunteer Fire Department and the Aurora Town Board will continue to work at crafting an ordinance regarding the placement of the fire department's fund-raiser money.
According to Aurora Town Board Chairman Bill Dyer, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue requires that all funds for volunteer fire departments, rescue squads, and other first responders be held by municipalities with bondable public officials.
The town board will need to enact an ordinance governing the control and use of the fire department's money.
Aurora Fire Chief Chad Hedmark and other firefighters argue that the town board should not be able to put restrictions on the money they earn through fund-raisers and donations. They also express concern that a future board could use their money for other town expenses.
During a special meeting on Monday night, Dyer explained that he did some more research on the issue.
He said that he received a letter from the town's insurance agent, who said that the town clerk is responsible for maintaining a ledger of all town funds, including the fire department's money. If the clerk does not comply, he or she is subject to possible prosecution.
"She is ultimately responsible," Dyer added. "No one wants our clerk in trouble."
In addition, he said that the town needs to keep detailed records of all fire department fund-raiser revenue and expenses and all donations made to the fire department.
"We want to do whatever we have to do to pass an audit," said Dyer.
Hedmark questioned some of Dyer's sources.
He said that he contacted the Department of Revenue and the Wisconsin Department of Commerce, and representatives at both agencies were unaware of the issue.
Hedmark then presented the board with the fire department's proposed ordinance, which was modeled after other Wisconsin fire departments' ordinances.
The proposed ordinance would allow:
- The fire department treasurer to deposit and withdraw funds from the fire department's bank account. Withdrawals would have to be approved by a majority vote of the fire department members.
- No limit on the amount of money in the bank account.
- The town board to receive monthly account statements from the fire department.
- An annual audit of fire department funds.
When Dyer proposed that the fire department look at setting a limit on the amount of money in the account for auditing purposes, firefighters disagreed. They said that if there is a limit, people will not come out to the fund-raisers.
Board member Yvonne VanPembrook then suggested that the town hire a certified public accountant to look over the town's books and the fire department's proposed ordinance.
Dyer pointed out that the town may also need to hire a lawyer to inspect the proposed ordinance.
Another special meeting on the issue is scheduled for Dec. 17 at 6 p.m. The regular town board meeting will follow at 7 p.m.
Nikki Younk's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.