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Fire 12 starts internal probe

Mallery disagrees with District’s response

Mason County Fire District 12 in Matlock has begun the process of an internal investigation to look into the allegations raised in the state Auditor’s Office fraud investigation and accountability audit reports.

The reports were released Sept. 20 at the fire commissioner’s regular monthly meeting, with state Auditor Pat McCarthy attending over Zoom, where she raised concern for what the audit found.

Brian Snure, lawyer for Fire District 12, told the Journal the investigation process is proceeding with Tom Burke, a counsel to Snure’s law firm, and has started gathering documents.

“It’s probably going to take a while,” Snure told the Journal. “It took the auditor a long time to do their investigation and report. (It will take) one to two months at a minimum and we’ve asked the auditor for copies of their documents.”

Snure said the district is doing what the auditor recommended and the allegations are being further investigated to conclude what did or didn’t happen. He said he has discussed the allegations with the fire district and what action could be taken if the investigation uncovers wrongdoing.

According to the accountability audit, Fire 12 did not ensure it accounted for and deposited all public money within a reasonable amount of time. The district received about $5,400, $9,900, $900 and $600 each year from 2017 to 2020, respectively, for basic life support and fire services.

A review of the charges by the accountability audit for services provided to Mary M. Knight School District from January 2017 to November 2021 identified some potential conflicts, including eight payments the school district made payable directly to a commissioner, the secretary, the fire chief and volunteer fire captain totaling $2,450 were cashed but not deposited into a fire district account. Four payments the school district made payable to the fire district since August 2019 totaled more than $1,019, and had not been deposited. There was a one-time payment the school district made to the district for $182 that was cashed, but the district could not verify where or when it was deposited.

“The school district finance manager was refusing to pay the district directly for services,” Fire District 12 said in response to the school district cash receipting portion of the accountability audit. “The individuals that received the payments were entitled to receive the payments but the district now recognizes that the using the process required by the school district cannot continue. The district is implementing policies and procedures to properly address cash receipts and will instruct the school district to issue future payments to the fire district.”

Mary M. Knight Superintendent Matt Mallery said the district’s statement in response to the auditor’s findings is not true.

“We just wanted to address that one area in the accountability report and that we do not believe there was confusion over the invoicing and billing process with Mason County (Fire District) 12,” Mallery told the Journal. “Just wanted to point that out to our readers, our school district people that we had clearly communicated that to the fire district on what would be the proper way to invoice us and the proper way for us to pay the Mason County Fire 12 for EMS services for our football games. We do not believe there is any confusion between us and the fire agency on this particular issue.”

Fire 12 has provided EMS services at this year’s football games, according to Mallery. He said they have changed how they pay the district and do not pay individual EMT’s anymore.

Malley said the reports have not changed the relationship with Fire District 12.

“We all serve the greater community of Matlock. Their mission is a little bit different from ours,” Mallery said. “Our relationship has remained the same in regards to if we call, they arrive to provide services here for the Mary M. Knight School District. The other thing we wanted to point out is our billing and payment process has been clearly communicated and that is the way we’re going to do it moving forward.”

Author Bio

Matt Baide, Reporter

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Shelton-Mason County Journal & Belfair Herald
Email: [email protected]


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