After long funding dispute, East Manchester Twp. releases $70k to Eagle Fire Co.
Eagle Fire Co. in Mount Wolf won't have to curtail its services in East Manchester Township because of funding shortages after all.
The township supervisors voted 2-0 on Tuesday, Dec. 11, to release $70,000 in funding to the fire company and an additional $5,000 each to Eagle Fire Co. and Union Fire Co. in retention funds.
Retention monies are used to fund personalized fire company apparel and new turnout gear, which the firefighters wear when they answer a call, as an incentive to attract and retain volunteers.
Chairman Steven H. Gross Jr. and Supervisor Barry E. Rudisill voted in favor of the funding. Vice Chairman David Naylor was absent.
"I do believe that you've done what we've asked," Gross said.
At the supervisors' Nov. 13 meeting, Rudisill and Naylor voted to release $26,000 from the equipment line item in the township's budget so that the fire company could make an overdue truck payment.
Naylor said at the time the township would release the remaining funds once the fire company had satisfied three stipulations in response to a theft of funds at the fire company's Mother's Day fundraiser.
Those stipulations were that the fire company update its money-handling policies, engage an auditor to complete a 2018 audit report and hire a certified public accountant to review the fire company's finances and serve as a bookkeeper.
Initially, the volunteer fire company, which covers Mount Wolf and the eastern half of East Manchester Township, expected to receive half of the $70,000 in the first quarter of the year and the other half in the last quarter of the year, but that funding was put on hold after the theft came to light.
Northeastern Regional Police Chief Bryan Rizzo said in November that the department had been investigating the theft since it was reported by the fire company over the summer but that no arrests had been made.
Rizzo was not immediately available to comment the morning of Wednesday, Dec. 12.
Fire Chief Jacob Bush said Wednesday the fire company will use the $70,000 to catch up on bill payments and replenish their savings account, which had been depleted over the last several months because of the funding dispute.
Bush said he feels "very good" about the prospect of having a more positive relationship with the township moving forward.
"We’re going to be able to, every month, give them a packet with all of the information and business we conduct at the firehouse," Bush said. "They won’t have any reason not to know what we are doing."