Supervisors in Penn Forest Township voted to retain Dale Kirk, a Certified Public Accountant with Kirk Summa & Co. LLP of East Stroudsburg, to perform financial audits for the township. The board made its decision during its monthly meeting on Monday.
The accounting firm is being retained to perform audits on all municipal departments, including the tax collector. Among its work will be an audit of vendors in the township that have been paying amusement tax or franchise fees over the past five years. While the supervisors won't know the details until the audit is complete, there is an expectation among some supervisors that a detailed audit will reveal errors on the part of some vendors that will result in additional revenue for the township.
Kirk Summa was one of two accounting firms that provided a quotation for the work and was the less expensive alternative, despite the fact that the company was able to demonstrate more experience auditing financial statements for municipalities.
In other township news, supervisor chairman Paul Montemuro invited the residents in attendance to a special meeting to be held at Penn Forest Volunteer Fire Co. No. 1 on November 23 to discuss a possible Fire Tax to be levied next year.
"I'm sure everybody knows that donations are down," Montemuro said. "They are all having financial problems. But we don't want to keep raising everyone's taxes."
The supervisors will convene the meeting but then turn it over to spokespeople from the two fire companies to explain to township residents why the money is needed and how it will be spent. Montemuro says the proposed fire tax of one-half mil will mean an additional $50 per year per $100,000 home.
Montemuro says that if the new tax is levied, the township will seek to put an agreement into writing that will specify how the fire companies spend the money. This is not uncommon. Emergency services personnel are often forced to accept requirements along with funding. For instance, Fire company No. 1 recently received a grant for over $600,000 to finance renovations to its building, but those funds were not available for operating expenses.
Supervisors had initially hoped to introduce the new fire tax via ballot referendum, but missed the deadline to get the issue on the ballot. This public meeting is an alternative method of allowing the public to comment on the issue.
"The cities have all paid fire and ambulance personnel," pointed out supervisor Harry Connolly. "These are all volunteers. This is why we want everyone's input, not just the supervisors."