The Clearwater Fire Protection District held two meetings Monday evening. The first was a meeting of the old board, and the second was the new boarding meeting. Ann Adams is retiring after six years on the board and she told the board that she feels an audit needs to be conducted.
“I would like to thank everyone for the last six challenging years,” Adams said before she left office. “I hope everything goes well for everyone the next six years. I still do recommend getting an audit. It has been over six years since there has been an audit. There hasn’t been an audit during the six years I have been on the board.”
Board President Shane Babb said that he is unaware of the fire district ever having a “paid for audit.”
“If we hire someone, a CPA, it might cost us $6,000-$7,000 for an audit.”
Fire Chief Earl Mumper said that Adams’ estimate was low and said he figures the cost of an audit would be double her numbers.
“If the state comes in, it would be $30,000-plus,” Adams continued.
Babb and board member Sandy Bearden asked Adams why she felt the district needs an audit.
“To give us a baseline,” Adams said. “And to make sure that we are paying things right and notating things right.”
Babb said that the district’s treasurers have paid bills and recorded figures basically the same. Bills are paid and the check number and the date the bill is paid is written on each invoice that is paid. Before a bill is paid, Walsh meets with Chief Mumper and gets clarification on what the expense if for, whether it is a truck repair, a part, or building repair and what station is associated with the expense. When the district used duplicate checks, a copy of the check was stapled to the bill/invoice.
“With these being taxpayer money, it makes me nervous not to have a baseline,” Adams said.
Walsh told Adams, “You have had six years to make one.”
“You have seen every check that has went out of here the last six years,” Babb added. “I don’t understand what makes you nervous.”
Adams said she has seen a record of checks that have gone out but has not seen the actual checks. She then referred to conversations from the past where she has questioned a couple of bills. One of those instances, Mumper said, was when he went to Jefferson City and picked up some lights for the City of Piedmont as well as the fire district. A month later, in revenue, it showed the reimbursement amount. Adams also questioned a nearly $500 bill to O’Reillys from several months ago. Mumper said that was when the district purchased the new truck for the chief. Wire and other items had to be purchased to make the truck capable of running the lights and sirens needed for the fire chief.
Walsh said that bill included more than just the items needed for the chief’s truck. That was a bill for an entire month. “It might have included up to seven trips there during a month,” Walsh said. “I get with Earl and ask what the major expenses are and then list that on our expense report. However, there is an itemized bill from O’Reilly’s every month.”
Assistant Fire Chief Josh Tucker said that there are just two people who are allowed to charge at O’Reilly’s—himself and Chief Mumper.
Chief Mumper’s wife, Shannon, said that their personal vehicle has lights. Those lights were purchased by the Mumpers. The siren box was donated to the Mumpers by Seth Deck.
“I recently had $6000 worth of work done on my personal truck,” Chief Mumper said. “None of those parts were purchased at O’Reilly’s, and I have a loan at the bank for that work.”
“Earl knows that any bill that he submits must have a description, a location, and who purchased it,” Walsh added.
“On our fuel tickets, we write what truck it is,” added Tucker.
Fire Chief’s Compensation
The fire district recently went to Debbie Lunyou and Robert Ramshur to obtain an opinion on whether Fire Chief Earl Mumper should be required to track his hours worked and leave time as a result of accrued overtime. Board Treasurer Steve Walsh said both agreed that Mumper is a salaried employee and does not to track the number of hours he works each month.
“We are not required by law or by state statute to require overtime compensation for the chief,” said Treasurer Steve Walsh. “Deborah Lunyou wrote a long opinion on why we are not required to provide overtime compensation and Mr. Ramshur wrote a letter and he concurs. He read Mrs. Lunyou’s opinion and researched the state statutes.”
Ramshur’s letter said he did not see any wage or hour concerns.
Lunyou said that for an employee to be exempt from overtime compensation, there are some qualifications that must be met. They must be paid on a salary basis, performs exempt job duties which means he supervises other employees, and he makes important policy-level decisions, and has the power to hire/fire or play a significant role in those matter.
According to Lunyou, the pros of having a salaried employee is that you do not have to pay overtime. Overtime can be paid if an entity chooses, but there is not requirement to do so. Salaried employees are usually experienced and can handle additional responsibilities.
“You are basically paying for a job to be done, whether it takes two hours or 25 hours,” Lunyou wrote.
The cons of having an exempt employee including having to pay them more than an hourly employee and you cannot deduct pay for hours not worked.
Walsh said that Mumper is a salaried employee and does not have to track his hours. “I don’t see no reason why he has to log his hours.”
Piedmont Police Chief Richard Sanders was in the rear of the room. He commented that he was also a salaried employee for the city. He said it doesn’t matter if he works seven or 70 hours.
“So, there wasn’t anything mentioned about liability,” Adams asked.
“No ma’am,” Chief Mumper said. “The board members are not liable either.”
The chief’s compensation was discussed a second time with the new board.
“As long as he is doing his job and we are happy with him, I think we leave things the way they are,” Walsh said. “It is ludicrous for him to have to log the hours he works and the time on fires. He is doing the job now. It is silly for him to record his hours because it doesn’t mean anything.”
Walsh said when Mumper plans to on vacation that he needs to let Assistant Chief Tucker know and to also inform the board.
The other four board members agreed with Walsh.
Fire District Funds
As of Monday, the CFPD had total funds of $388,976.97. Of that, $355,245.88 was in the fire checking account and $31,699.01 was in the contingency fund. The remaining $2,062.08 was in the Tower Fund.
“There is no entry for training,” Adams said. “The training you do each time….”
Walsh said that there is no money spent for normal monthly training. The yearly line item for training reflects money spent for board training and fees associated with university courses that are brought to the district and the commodities for those courses.
“Very seldom will you see a line item on the monthly financial reports,” said Board President Shane Babb.
Sworn Into Office
When the new board met, Dave Palmer and Sandy Bearden took the oath of office as new board members. Palmer will begin his first six-year term on the board, and Bearden is serving her second six-year term.
When the board reorganized, Shane Babb was re-elected board president and board secretary. Steve Walsh will continue as board treasurer. Fire Chief Earl Mumper will serve as custodian of records.
Ryan Drury and Chad Floyd are no longer members of the fire district’s roster of firefighters. Drury quit due to not having enough time to devote to the fire district; Floyd was released as a firefighter due to an arrest.
Fire District Responds
To 22 Incidents
The Clearwater Fire Protection District responded to 22 incidents during March. Of those 16 were brush fires. To date, the fire district has responded to 58 fires so far this year.