Friday, March 23, 2012
Volunteer Fire Co. Refuses Records Request From Boro Councilman
In a letter to Pennsylvania's Open Records office, Fire Co. President Bill Schrack makes some incredible arguments:
This letter is in response to the above mentioned docket originated by Mr. David Houser's request for information from our fire company. As the newly appointed president of this organization I have been tasked with handling this matter. There are several reasons why our organization chose not to disclose the requested infromation to Mr. Houser which resulted in the current appeal and they are listed below.
1- We are a non-profit volunteer organization whose sole purpose is to provide fire protection to our community along with two other fire companies comprising our department for greater than 100 years. We feel, with the definitions provided under the Right To Know Law (RTKL) section 102, that we are not considered an agency required to provide such information to the general public.
2- Being that we are a volunteer organization the time frame imposed by a legal formal request such as presented created an undue hardship on the members of our organization. We do not have the personnel or resources available at times to handle these types of requests, nor was there an offer of a reasonable time frame to process this request. As stated earlier, our sole purpose is to provide fire protection to our community.
3- Noting again that we are a volunteer organization with limited available manhours and funds, there was also no offer of any reimbursement of costs associated with processing this request by Mr. Houser.
4- We also strongly believe that there is a conflict of interest in Mr. Houser's request, as we believe he is requesting this information as a Borough Council member and not as a general citizen. We believe that the information requested would be detrimental to our survivability as an organization.
5- Lastly, the information that Mr. Houser requested does not exist in the forms that he is requesting. We have seperate logs for the financial secretary and the treasurer. No official fiscal year reports are generated. Monthly reports are made, vouchers drawn, and the results are spread among the minutes recorded by the secretary. Also there has never been an audit performed by an "independent" agency as there has been no need for such. Once yearly, a committee is formed of current members by the President to perform this task ensuring the books are in order.
With the aforementioned reasons we request that this docket be closed in favor of Second Ward Fire Company. If this matter is not closed we request ample time to seek legal council of our own in review of this case. I am sorry for the delay in this response, but as I stated we are a volunteer organization and are not always readily available for coorespondance via mail. I had been fortunate to receive this letter within the time frame alloted a response. Please feel free to contact me via e-mail for a faster response for any further information that I may provide to assist in your decision in this matter.