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West Ossipee Fire Commissioners address question on 2009 payroll advance

June 09, 2011
OSSIPEE— West Ossipee Fire Precinct Commissioners revealed more information to answer a question about an employee payroll advance in 2009 at their meeting June 6.

At the May 23 meeting, West Ossipee resident Steve Moore had said he was in receipt of non-public information from the commissioner's office regarding a payroll advance or loan and wanted more information about it.

At the June 6 meeting, Commission Chair Paul Jay acknowledged that the former secretary asked for a payroll advance of her wages and this request was granted by the fire chief and a payroll check was issued. The payroll advance was repaid through payroll deduction by the end of the calendar year.

Jay said the advance was approved without prior permission of the precinct commissioners. Once the commissioners were made aware of the situation, he said, commissioners discovered that the secretary – who was also a member of the fire department – had been volunteering her time in responding to fire calls and was not taking payment for that work as the rest of fire departments were. Jay said though the secretary did not want payment for this time worked, at the direction of the commissioners, the precinct clerk took the fire department response log and sign-in sheets and calculated all hours the secretary had worked on fire department duties and calls. The commissioners then wrote a check for this unpaid time and credited it towards the payroll advance.

At the time, concerns were raised that this may have been an illegal move on the part of the chief and all supporting documentation was forward to the attorney general's office. Jay reported that the issue was put to rest when that office confirmed that the allegations of criminal activity were unfounded. A policy regarding employee payroll advances was put into place. Jay declined to comment any further on any disciplinary actions or other actions that were taken by commissioners at the time.

New treasurer sought

West Ossipee Fire Precinct needs a new treasurer after the former treasurer resigned at the end of last month. Commissioners are looking for anyone interested in serving who lives in and is a registered voter of West Ossipee and who has experience with accounting and Quickbooks computer software. They hope to appoint a new treasurer at their June 20 meeting who will serve until the next election in January 2012. Anyone interested in the position is asked to leave a message at the fire station at 539-6906 or email wofd@roadrunner.com.

Other news

Commissioners reported that the audit of the 2010 financials is underway and is expected to be finalized in August. Commissioner Paula Moore said this audit will likely "look a lot like last year's" with a likely long list of recommendations since the 2009 audit with its recommendations were not received or implemented until late 2010.

Commissioners are advertising a fire truck for sale: the fire department's Engine 4 that failed state inspection and was placed out of service after discovery of broken frame rails. Bids on the truck, a 1977 Mack/Continental Pumper with a 1,500 gallon tank, fire pump and suction hose, are being accepted until June 20 at 6 p.m. Commissioners plan to open the sealed bids at 7 p.m. Bids can be sent to West Ossipee Fire Precinct, PO Box 643, West Ossipee, NH 03890, marked "Mack Bid."

Commissioners voted to replace the current keypad locks on the fire station doors that were installed last year with a swipe card entry system and awarded the job to Mike's Lock and Key for $3,510.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
Armen Kevorkian
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