Reade reduces gift to local fire company

Municipal law caps donation at $1,000

BLANDBURG — A $5,000 donation given by Reade Township Municipal Authority to an area volunteer fire company had to be reduced at a Thursday night meeting when legal questions arose.

“I guess we are not allowed to give $5,000,” municipal authority board member Lew Wagner said.

Last month, authority members voted unanimously to donate $5,000 to Reade Volunteer Fire Company.

The funds were intended to help company officials purchase a used fire truck to replace an obsolete vehicle at a cost of $20,000, Deputy Fire Chief Randy Wilson said at that time.

Reade Township supervisors had already agreed to donate $5,000, and company officials planned to seek community donations for the remaining cost, including $5,000 from the authority.

Last month, the legality of that donation was questioned at an authority meeting, but solicitor Tim Burns said the donation would be permitted. Authority members voted to give the donation.

However, on Thursday, authority members said they now feel the donation was illegal. A line in the Municipal Authorities Act, which lays out rules and regulations, stipulates that donations to nonprofit organizations cannot exceed $1,000.

This news proved troubling to some authority members like Tom Hollis, who took issue with Burns’ earlier advice.

“The bottom line is Tim said it was legal,” he said. “So Tim doesn’t know what he is talking about.”

Burns was not at the meeting, and Reade officials announced that he was on vacation.

Members in attendance agreed that they should rescind their previous $5,000 gift, while donating the allowed $1,000. Beyond that, they agreed to look into any exemptions that would allow them to donate the additional $4,000.

Fire company members were not at the meeting, so it is not immediately clear how the donation reduction will affect their truck purchase.

Donation talks were not the only time Burns came under fire at the Thursday meeting.

A bill that some authority members thought was excessive led them to move against having Burns present at every meeting. They were especially troubled by a charge for travel time.

Now, all authority board members will have to be contacted and a majority will have to give approval before Burns can be “invited” to a meeting.

“The board needs to invite him, not just one person,” Hollis said.

Mirror Staff Writer Sean Sauro is at 946-7535.