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Pa. township set to audit ambulance service

GREENSBURG, Pa. Sewickley Township auditors are on the verge of auditing the books of the township's nonprofit ambulance service, after months of squabbling between the two sides.

The audit is scheduled for Monday at the Herminie office of Joe Fiore, a member of the ambulance service's executive board.

"We don't know if (the dispute) is resolved," said township auditor Thomas Byrnes. "They want to show us a confidentiality agreement. It depends."

Terri Faye, the attorney for the ambulance service, was a bit more optimistic. Faye said on Friday the audit will take place, as far as the ambulance service was concerned.

She said there is a draft document that, if agreed to, would place some matters outside the scope of the audit. But she indicated the two sides have agreed in principle to these confidentiality provisions, and there should be no roadblocks to finalizing the accord on Monday.

Byrnes said he hoped that would be the case. "This matter should have been resolved in March," he said.

Faye said the audit would never have become an issue if township officials had told the ambulance service a local audit was required.

By the time the township got around to making that known, the ambulance service had forwarded its financial information to a private auditor in Murrysville that it had hired to do its books, she said.

The Sewickley Township Community Ambulance Service is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization that must justify its status annually to the federal government, according to Faye.

Township Supervisor Wayne Jones said he hopes the audit "is ready to go forward. But I'm going to wait and see what happens."

Jones, an auditor himself, said he has some concerns about the confidentiality agreement. "I always want to look at what I need to look at," Jones said Friday.

He indicated he would not attempt to sidetrack the audit, however.

The agreement on confidentiality would encompass such things as employee pay and Social Security numbers as well as patient information, Faye said.

A decision by the ambulance service to "segregate" public funds from other sources of income for the 2008 audit was applauded by both Byrnes and Jones. "I wanted them to do that in the beginning," Jones said.

As a consequence of the audit deadlock, the township has placed a hold on tax money due the ambulance service in 2007. The disbursement awaits the completion of the 2006 audit, according to Jones.

Two years ago, township voters approved a 2-mill tax for the ambulance service. Some $90,000 was collected in 2006.

The ambulance service expended just $30,000 of that amount. The remainder went into an account for the future purchase of big-ticket items, Faye said.

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