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Two more fire departments turn in paperwork

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Two more Kanawha County volunteer fire departments have provided the financial data needed to secure county funding.

Every year, the Kanawha County Commission gives each fire department in the county $20,000. Commissioners Kent Carper, Dave Hardy and Hoppy Shores voted last year to ask the fire departments to turn over copies of their federal form 990 tax documents before releasing the funds to make sure the departments are being fiscally responsible.

Three of the 27 volunteer fire departments funded by the county had not turned in the documents last week. But Kanawha County Chief Fiscal Officer Dave Fontalbert said two of those departments have now turned in at least some of the documentation.

Fontalbert said he personally helped officials with the Handley Volunteer Fire Department fill out their 2010-11 form 990, and is waiting for the 990 for 2011-12. Officials for the Tornado Volunteer Fire Department also turned in their form 990 for 2010-11.

Tornado fire officials explained that their accountant has been ill, but is currently working on the 2011-12 document.

Fontalbert said he thinks both departments were late in providing the forms because they both rely on other people to manage their books. He doesn't believe officials at either department were trying to withhold information.

"It's not my call to release their money, but everything [in the documents provided] looks fine," he said.

Although county commissioners requested current form 990s before releasing the funds, Carper said the two departments have shown that they intend to comply with the request.

"I wouldn't hold it up at this point," Carper said. "I'm going to put in on the agenda for our next meeting and we'll vote on [whether to release the money]. I suspect this will satisfy everyone."

County officials still have not received financial data from the Smithers Volunteer Fire Department, which is in Fayette County but answers calls in neighboring Kanawha County. Kanawha County had been giving Smithers $10,000 a year.

The Smithers department is under criminal investigation by the West Virginia State Police, and state officials have cut off funding to the organization. Carper said it is unlikely Smithers will receive any more money from Kanawha County.

Reach Rusty Marks at rustymarks@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1215.


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