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Carnegie Borough Council insists bookkeeper would help

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By Jeff Widmer
Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:02 p.m.
 

Members of Carnegie Borough Council last week said they remain “mystified” as to why officials at the volunteer fire department would not want to accept a free bookkeeper.

Council President Rick D'Loss said as much, when he said he “does not know what the (fire department is afraid of).”

“We are paying for this bookkeeper. Are they expressing fear of us shutting down the fire department? I don't know. It is just one more thing. But I can tell you that this has created a level of mistrust between the fire department and the borough,” D'Loss said.

“Now, the way I see it, this could be a bump in the road in the relations between the two sides. Or it could be something that makes us think they have something to hide,” D'Loss said.

D'Loss and fellow councilman Mike Sarsfield have been involved in talks with fire department officials and the department's attorney, Dan DeMarco of Carnegie. Carnegie Solicitor Joe Lucas also has been involved in the talks.

The fire department receives an annual stipend of $177,567 from Carnegie Borough, said Carnegie Manager Jeff Harbin. This includes $142,000 for services rendered to Carnegie and Pennsbury boroughs.

There has to be “some level of accountability” for this money, Lucas said.

“This is taxpayer money. Now, is it fair to expect the volunteer firefighters to do the bookkeeping? No. They are volunteer firefighters. They are putting their lives on the line. But looking at it another way, we are trying to help them, trying to make the place sustainable. The bookkeeper would only be there to assist them,” Lucas said.

There was a verbal agreement between the two sides, council said, for Peekz Consulting of Pittsburgh to be the monthly bookkeeper for the department. Council agreed to pay for these services at an hourly rate.

DeMarco and Lucas have had some talks and will continue to talk in the hopes of clearing up the matter, Sarsfield said. In the meantime, DeMarco has made it clear that department officials want to know exactly what the bookkeeper's duties would be before an agreement is reached.

“The fire department has nothing to hide. We have no problem with a bookkeeper coming here. But we just need to know about what the bookkeeper will be doing,” DeMarco said.

Jeff Widmer is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-388-5810 or jwidmer@tribweb.com.

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