Borough of West Mayfield

Fire Service Review Committee

BUDGET & FINANCE

Based on public records, here is an overview of the borough’s annual budgeting for Public Safety-Fire (2020-2024):

Five year budgeted amounts to be spent on Public Safety-Fire:

  • Unadjusted total: $75,340 / Average: $18,458/yr 
  • Adjusted comprehensive total:  $146,978 / Average: $29,396/yr 


The following budget categories account for 99.8% of all budgeted expenses between 2020-2024:

  • Vehicle Fuel – 1% of its Public Safety-Fire budget 
  • Insurance and Bonding: 20% of budget 
  • Foreign Fire Insurance Premium Tax: 17% of budget 
  • Cash Contribution to Volunteer Fire Dept: 21% of budget 
  • Minor Machinery & Equipment: 4% of budget
  • Fire Hydrants: 13% of budget
  • Fire Dept. Workers Comp Insurance: 24% of budget

Municipal Budget & Actuals

FSRC Questions:
 
Appropriations
    1. How does the borough assess, evaluate, and prioritize identified, need-based financial and in-kind support for our fire protection and fire service needs?
    2. Does the Fire and Police Committee (or any other public safety representative in local government) work with other borough officials and/or the fire service to request a listing of needs based on documentary evidence (e.g., financial records, invoices, receipts, cost increase notices, inflationary projections) that help justify appropriations requests?
    3. Does the borough budget section, “Public Safety-Fire” accurately categorize and account (itemize) for all fire prevention and fire protection needs?
    4. The municipal budget does not itemize the cost of workers compensation insurance for volunteer fire department staff, which costs taxpayers about $7,000 per year (as noted in council meeting minutes, February 2022). Why is this specific support for the fire service not noted in the budget in the same way that liability insurance is itemized for the fire department? [NOTE: White Twp. itemizes this expense under its Public Safety-Fire budget (411.195 · Fire Dept Workers Comp, $8,000 budgeted for 2022)]
    5. Based on fire department reporting, if and when provided to council and appearing in the council meeting minutes, the borough’s budget line item for the cash value of fuel provisioned in support of the fire department appears to be grossly and consistently miscalculated between 2020-2024. How can this be explained?
Budget Construction
    1. When do borough officials begin the process of deliberating and drafting the annual municipal budget?
    2. Is there a budget committee that directs the borough secretary in drafting the annual municipal budget?
    3. What role does the Finance & Litigation Committee play in formulating the budget?
    4. What role does the Fire & Police Committee play in formulating the public safety budget?
    5. How are budget figures calculated (e.g., based on multi-year actual spending trends, documented needs, invoicing, contract agreements)?
    6. Where can actual spending data be found?
    7. How can this fiscal data be made readily accessible to the public?
Budget Forecasting
    1. With respect to near and long-term future support for fire prevention and fire protection needs and trends, who is responsible for calculating these figures and conveying this information to council and the public?
    2. Should the Fire & Police Committee be tasked with this duty?
    3. What role would the Finance & Litigation Committee play in preparing for these future budgetary needs?

Foreign Fire Insurance Premium Funding

Annual Actuals: 2006 – 2022 (Source: WM final budgets and WM Firemen’s Relief Association audits)

    • 17 year average: $5,893/year.
      • 2022: Actual $5,529
      • 2021: Actual $4,646
      • 2020: Actual $5,138
      • 2019: Actual $5,067
      • 2018: Actual $4,723
      • 2017: Actual $5,185
      • 2016: Actual $5,749
      • 2015: Actual $5,775
      • 2014: Actual $6,049
      • 2013: Actual $6,383
      • 2012: Actual $5,720
      • 2011: Actual $10,095
      • 2010: Actual $6,319
      • 2009: Actual $5,614
      • 2008: Actual $6,162
      • 2007: Actual $6,048
      • 2006: Actual $5,979

Note: Based on acutals between the years 2006 – 2022, the average foreign fire insurance premium assistance provided by the state to WMVFD is $5,893/year. Applying this figure as a standard for future annual budgeting would have to consider inflation. $5,893 in 2006 has the same buying power as $8,355 in 2022. In other words, $1.00 in 2006 is the equivalent of $1.40 in 2022–a 40% decrease in purchasing power.

See Chart Below: Downward Trend in State Aid Money

Park Shelter Rental Concession

As of February 2024, council ended the park shelter rental concession managed by WMVFD for many years.  Council awarded the concession to the Recreation Board.  

A search of the public record (council meeting minutes) shows not WMVFD reporting to council for the revenue generated from our taxpayer owned community park. 

FSRC Questions:

    1. Over the past five years, has council received any reports from the WMVFD regarding revenue generated for the fire service from the borough’s community park shelter rental concession?

Real Estate

The borough leases the lot behind the fire department to the WMVFD for $1 per year. This revenue is listed in the municipal budget as “Rent of Land.

    1. What would be the property value of this plot and does the borough manage any taxes for this plot?
    2. Does the borough hold title or deed to any other real estate or buildings used by the WMVFD? 

Workers Compensation Insurance Coverage

  • Budgeted for Workers Compensation*
    • 2024:  Budgeted: $14, 400 / Actual for total insurance: TBD
    • 2023: Budgeted: $14,000 / Actual for total insurance: TBD
    • 2022: Budgeted: $13,500 / Actual for total insurance: $28,536**
    • 2021: Budgeted: $14,000 / Actual for total insurance: $28,069
    • 2020: Budgeted: $12,000  / Actual for total insurance: $27,945
  • NOTE:

* The municipal budget only provides an amount listed under “Miscellaneus Expenditures: Insurance: Workmen’s Compensation.” This line item does not indicate what portion of the workers compensation insurance spending is for the WMVFD members. For example, White Twp. does itemize fire department workers’ compensation insurance premium costs ($8,000 for 2022).     

** The Municipal Annual Financial Audit does not provide for an itemized accounting of fire department workers compensation insurance premium spending.  The audit only shows actual total spending on borough insurance (code 486: “Insurance Casualty, Surity”).  

Workers Comp Insurance Premium references in council meeting minutes

  • 2023-05-11: Mr. B.J. Gianguillo, President of H A Thomson is reviewing our insurance policies for the coming renewal of Property & Liability on 8/1 and Work Comp on 9/5. Buildings, park, monument and equipment will remain the same coverage. Tools will be increased to $10,000. PIRMA insurance has raised rate by 8%. Work comp will be determined by last audit information.
  • 2022-05-09: Mr. B.J. Giangiulio, president of HA Thomson Company was present to review our insurance policies. At council’s request, the bucket truck will be covered for liability insurance only because it is not being used. He explained that social members of the volunteer fire department are not covered under our liability and work comp insurance. The anticipated increase in premiums are $772 for Liability and $612 for work comp.
  • 2022-02-10: Mrs. Horvath asked what the borough council provided for the fire department. They pay for liability insurance in the amount of about $5500, work comp insurance for about $7000 and a donation of $5000 yearly.
  • 2021-05-13: Mr. B.J. Giangiulio, president of HA Thomson company was present to review our insurance policies. He reviewed all buildings, equipment, tools etc. along with the liability coverage for all council members. Our deductible will remain at $250 but there will be a slight increase in the premium. We are satisfied with the coverage that we have and made no changes to our policy. He also reviewed our work comp policy and there will also be a slight raise in our premium. He requested that a fire department roster with names and birthdates of all members be forwarded to our representative.

Insurance & Bonding

FSRC Questions:

    1. What are the budgeted and actual “insurance and bonding” expenditures for the volunteer fire department? 

The borough pays “insurance and bonding” expenses for the volunteer fire department.  These annual costs are included in the borough’s annual budget, paid for from the general fund. 

The West Mayfield Firemens Relief Association audit reports list “Insurance and Bonding Expenses.” As asked in the audit, for the 3 year period between Jan 2020 to Dec 2022, the WMFRA indicates at total of $6,060. Here is the breakdown:

    • Total Insurance Premiums Expenditure = $5,810
    • Total Bond Premiums Expenditure = $250

However, borough budgeted figures for the same period (2020-2022) show that the borough budgeted for a total of $16,900: 

    • 2020: $5,500
    • 2021: $5,600
    • 2022: $5,800

The FRA audit for this period states that the Insurance Premiums expenditure of $5,810 and Bond Premiums Expenditure of $250 are for the entire period between Jan 2020 through Dec 2022–a total of $6,060. However, for this same period the Borough of West Mayfield budgeted a total of  $16,900 in the category of fire service “Insurance and Bonding.”It is unclear if the borough actually remitted the $16,900 to the WMFRA for the years 2020, 2021, and 2022.

FSRC Questions:

    1. How can this discrepancy between $6,060 (as reported by the WMFRA) and $16,900 (as indicated in the borough budget) be reconciled? 

Fuel Provision

The borough offers WMVFD both gasoline and diesel fuel from bulk stores at the borough building. The borough budget accounts for the cash value of this in-kind support, listed under “Public Safety – Fire, Vehicle Fuel- Gasoline.”

There is no budget line item accounting for the cash value of diesel fuel provided to the WMVFD. Until April 2024, WMVFD had been receiving diesel fuel from the borough’s diesel stores (see note below).     

Notes:

    • As of April 11, 2024, council ended its direct in-kind diesel support to the WMVFD because the borough’s diesel is the off-road type. It is unlawful to use this type of diesel in road vehicles. WMVFD may still purchase diesel and present receipts to the borough for reimbursement. 
    • As noted, As of April 2024, the borough will reimburse WMVFD for diesel fuel receipted purchases. 
    • The Commonwealth does allow fire departments to apply for a liquid fuels tax refund
      • The PA Liquid Fuels and Fuels Tax, under section 9017(b)(2), allows volunteer fire, rescue and ambulance squads to petition Board of Finance & Revenue, located in the Department of the Treasury, for a refund of the tax paid on fuel consumed in such operations. Petitions must be filed for the year ended June 30 by the following September 30 in accordance with Department Regulation found at 61 Pa. Code 315.6. In order to claim the refund, volunteer fire companies and ambulance squads must register and receive an account number from the Treasury Department. Once the company registers, it will each year automatically receive the forms to claim their refund.

Budgeted “Public Safety – Fire, Vehicle Fuel- Gasoline” amounts

2024 

    • Budgeted: $150
    • Actual: cash value expenditure from the general fund unkown

Note: 2024 borough budget: Vehicle Fuel – Gasoline $4,000.00, Vehicle Fuel – Diesel $6,000.00

2023

    • Budgeted: $150
    • Actual: unkown cash value expenditure from the general fund
      • *Fuel (paid for by borough): Gasoline usage not reported by WMVFD, Diesel = 80 gal

Note: 2023 borough budget: Vehicle Fuel – Gasoline $4,000.00, Vehicle Fuel – Diesel $6,000.00

2022

    • Budgeted: $150
    • Actual: unknown cash cash value expenditure from the general fund
      • *Fuel (paid for by borough): Gasoline = 766 gal, Diesel = 128 gal

Note: 2022 borough budget: Vehicle Fuel – Gasoline $1,500.00, Vehicle Fuel – Diesel $4,000.00

2021

    • Budgeted: $300
    • Actual: unknown cash value expenditure from the general fund
      • *No Fire Department year end report

Note: 2021 borough budget: Vehicle Fuel – Gasoline $2,000.00 Vehicle Fuel – Diesel $3,000.00

2020

    • Budgeted: $300 (assumed)
    • Actual: unknown cash value expenditure from the general fund
      • *Fuel (paid for by borough): 108 gal used [type unspecified]

Note: 2020 borough budget: Vehicle Fuel – Gasoline $1,500.00, Vehicle Fuel – Diesel $3,300.00

*Source: WMVFD year end reports to council as reported in council meeting minutes.

Equipment / Materiel

FSRC Questions:

    1.  Over the past five years, has council, borough committees, or any other borough official of the borough puchased equipment or materiel for the WMVFD? 

Equipment / Materiel

FSRC Questions:

    1.  Over the past five years, has council, borough committees, or any other borough official of the borough puchased equipment or materiel for the WMVFD? 

Digital Comunications Support

The borough fascilitates online reservations for the WMVFD social hall through the official West Mayfield website. The website administrator manges incoming hall rental requests from the public and then exports these notifications to the WMVFD for processing.  

  • Water Supply – Fire Hydrants
  • Building Fire Extinguishers

Good & Welfare Spending on WMVFD

Financial support toward WMVFD’s Santa Visits by Fire Truck events

    • Amounts provided by borough each year?
      • 2022-10-13: “The candy money has already been budgeted for the Fire Department for Santa on the fire truck. (Note: No such line item exists in the 2022 borough budget. Source: council meeting minutes)
      • 2022-08-11: “Mayor – asked if the Borough Christmas party could be brought back. Since we had already allocated adding more items into the bags brought by Santa in the firetruck that won’t be possible this year but it could be discussed for next year.” (Note: No such line item exists in the 2022 borough budget. Source: council meeting minutes)
      • 2021-12-09: “A motion to purchase candy and treats to be distributed by Santa Claus to the borough children up to $500 was made by Mrs. Sepp and seconded by Mrs. McNeely. The motion passed unanimously. Santa will be visiting the borough children on Sunday, December 19 from noon until 3p.m. The Beaver Falls parade committee donated about 100 toy bags to the borough to also be distributed by Santa Claus.”
      • 2021-10-14: “There will not be a borough Christmas Party this year but extra items will be purchased for the gift bags the kids get from Santa on the firetruck”
      • 2020-12-10: “Mr. Little . . . On behalf of the Fire Department, Santa will be visiting the borough on Saturday the 19th as long as council still approves. Approval was given.”
      • 2020-11-12: “Fire and Police Ms. Harker reported the fire department decided at its meeting to schedule Santa passing out candy to borough children for December 19th beginning at noon. Because of the COVID pandemic there will be no borough Christmas party this year. After a discussion, it was decided to increase the treats that are put in the bags for Santa to deliver to make Christmas a little better for our borough children since there will be no Christmas party.”
      • 2019-11-14: “On December 21, Santa will be making his rounds on the fire truck to distribute candy to borough children.”