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Ghent trims firemen's 2018 budget

Nov 24, 2017 7:30 am

Claire Gilbert is reporting in The Columbia Paper the town of Ghent has allocated $10,000 less in its 2018 budget than requested by the West Ghent Volunteer Fire Company. At a recent town board meeting, Town Supervisor Michael Benvenuto read aloud a letter sent by the board to the fire company, explaining that in light of recent events, the board believed the $100,000 allocation would be sufficient to cover the company's operating costs during the coming year. “Over the course of the last two years, the Office of the State Comptroller has been conducting an audit and investigation of the company” the board’s letter reads in part. “This summer the OSC audit and investigation resulted in criminal charges against a former treasurer of the company. In August, the former treasurer received a criminal sentence and was ordered to pay restitution after pleading guilty to Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree.” The Comptroller's audit found there was a lack of adequate oversight of company financial activities by the its leaders. Benvenuto continued reading from the letter, which states the town board believes the fire company “has substantial reserves,” and “even though the company will receive $10,000… less from the town of Ghent in 2017, there will still be money left to transfer to reserve.” The fire company was not represented at the meeting, but The Columbia Paper received an email earlier this month, acknowledging the board's plans to cut the funds. The email stated that as a contractor, the fire company would not provide fire protection if the reduction was approved. No one from the fire company responded when contacted by The Columbia Paper. Read the full story in The Columbia Paper.