Editor: The Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company is disappointed by broad generalizations as reported by Loudoun Now on Nov. 21, entitled Supervisors Push Fire-Rescue Volunteers on Internal Audits.
At best this report implies negligence in the performance of our financial responsibilities and discredits the honest dedication and hard work of our committed volunteers.
Here are the facts:
The county does not audit our books nor has the county Board of Supervisors ever found it necessary to audit our financial records. The published report references an audit. However, Cherry Bekaert defines their work as a maturity assessment. An audit as defined by generally accepted accounting standards was not performed, nor requested. The Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company participated in a Loudoun County sponsored maturity assessment during calendar year 2017. The result of that Maturity Assessment: No financial irregularities.
Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company continues to engage an independent CPA firm to compile our annual financial statement and the annual IRS Form 990. Following the end of the latest fiscal year, July 1, 2018 thru June 30, 2019, we retained Yount Hyde Blout, CPAs, to prepare and file all required financial reports. As has been our historical practice, we provide our accountants with a complete electronic set of our books, extensive related financial documentation and prepare explanations in response to their questions. The independent accountants compile their reports with full access to every financial transaction. The historical result for each and every year has been: No financial irregularities or misappropriation.
The volunteers honor our service with the utmost care in meeting our fiduciary duty. Our bank accounts are reconciled each month by volunteers comprising the financial committee. An annual budget is prepared and approved by our board of directors. All unexpected but necessary non-budgeted discretionary purchases in excess of $5,000 require three bids, no conflict of interest and separate board approval.
All financial contributions and donations in total are used solely in support of operations. No donated funds are used for either personal or social purposes. We do not maintain a petty cash account and credit cards are issued only to senior officers with clear financial day to day operational responsibilities. All credit accounts are reconciled, each receipt and purchase approval reviewed and then paid on time without penalty each month.
Our major continuing operational expenses are equipment acquisition, equipment maintenance, personal protection equipment, and building maintenance. As required by our policies, practices and procedures, all are budgeted annually and our budget is formally approved by our board of directors.
Our major emergency vehicles are replaced according to a county prescribed schedule. The county directly supports the purchase of a single engine and a single ladder truck. The volunteers maintain a second engine and a second ladder truck in order to meet the service levels we believe to be appropriate. In April 2019, we purchased a new engine and a new ladder truck at a total cost of $2 million. The county supervisors contributed to a portion of the ladder truck. In order to make this purchase, LVFC borrowed $2 million from Middleburg Bank, currently Atlantic Union. Three banks reviewed our historical financial statements, our historical form 990s, as well as other financial information. All three banks found us creditworthy and offered to fund the purchase. These endorsements are evidence of our financial discipline and our commitment to honoring the generosity of the community we serve.
Our ability to maintain additional emergency vehicles comes from citizen donations primarily from our annual mail in fund drive (currently in progress). We are grateful beyond description for the necessary financial support from the citizens, without which we would not be able to serve. We understand that effective financial procedures and our long term earned creditworthiness are necessary if we are to serve with credibility.
The Board of Supervisors has recently released a study concluding that the volunteer companies throughout the county saved taxpayers more than $25 million last year alone. Volunteerism is important to the life blood of our community and results measured are both tangible and intangible.
We passionately guard our history and our character and consistently strive to maintain those virtues. We are committed to maintaining our good name and to sustaining our integrity, which we have earned over our 216 years of service.
The citizens of Leesburg have honored us with continuing support. We are grateful for your confidence and we pledge our continuing commitment to honor that trust.
Leesburg Volunteer Fire Company
George Delalian, President