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Fire company getting financial hand

| Friday, March 26, 2004

While Marshall officials won't be holding the purse strings, they will be playing a greater role in the finances of the township's volunteer fire company.

Township officials are working with fire officials to devise a system to help ensure the fire company's money is both spent and invested wisely, said Supervisor Robert Fayfich.

About 85 percent of the fire company's revenues come from Marshall taxpayers via a .25 mill fire tax. The levy is expected to generate about $200,000 this year. The remainder of the company's revenues mostly comes from donations.

A study by the state Department of Community and Economic Development recommended the township help manage the fire company's money and investments. The company has a $120,000 budget, and $463,737 in savings.

The study doesn't recommend a merger of the company and the township, something fire officials began discussing in 2002. Township officials didn't jump at that idea, since the township then would take on the fire company's debt, which requires payments of about $23,000 a year.

Fire officials had envisioned signing over the company equipment and assets to the township, and letting the township manage the company's finances.

"I definitely think there needs to be township oversight, but it will be an arm's length relationship," Marshall Manager Neil McFadden said.

Fire Chief Scott Sampey did not return phone calls seeking comment on the study.

Fire officials requested the study, provided at no cost by the Center for Local Government Services. They were looking for an evaluation of their operations and recommendations for keeping the company viable.

The study recommended the fire company consider a potential merger with the neighboring Bradford Woods Fire Department and look at ways to recruit and retain more volunteers. The company has 27 active volunteers.

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