The COVID-19 pandemic has left a question mark on the finances for Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue, according to a recent audit of the fire district by the Washington State Auditor’s …
The COVID-19 pandemic has left a question mark on the finances for Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue, according to a recent audit of the fire district by the Washington State Auditor’s Office.
The audit covered the time frame of Jan. 1, 2018 through Dec. 31, 2019.
“Our audit involved obtaining evidence about the district’s use of public resources, compliance with state laws and regulations and its own policies and procedures, and internal controls over such matters,” the authors of the audit said in their report, which was released June 29.
In a note added to the department’s 2019 financial statements, the fire department acknowledged that a state of emergency was declared in February 2020 after the outbreak of COVID-19, and officials said the spread of the coronavirus could impact the fire district’s finances.
The district noted: “In February 2020, the governor of the state of Washington declared a state of emergency in response to the spread of a deadly new virus. In the weeks following the declaration, precautionary measures to slow the spread of the virus have been ordered. These measures include closing schools, colleges and universities, cancelling public events, and limiting gathering sizes.
“As a fire district that depends on public tax dollars for our revenue, we may begin to see shortages in our anticipated revenue due to non-payment of property taxes. There is also the potential for increased expenses in our personal protective supplies and increased overtime costs. We have put a temporary interlocal agreement in place with neighboring fire districts in Clallam, Jefferson and Kitsap counties. This agreement is for staffing backfill and is in place for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic only. The length of time these measures will be in place, and the full extent of the financial impact is unknown at this time.”
"The audit was very clean and contained no recommendations, findings, or letters," Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue Fire Chief Brad Martin said in an email to The Leader.
"We’ve worked very hard to ensure we are doing everything we can, to be accountable at every level," Martin added.
"The COVID-19 comment was nothing derogatory," the chief noted. "The state auditor is monitoring how all entities account for, manage and comply with any grant monies provided and wanted to make sure we were aware in advance, to have our processes in place. We have already prepared for such a requirement, so for us (PLFR), it is not a surprise that they will be reviewing that at our next audit."
Port Ludlow Fire & Rescue (Jefferson County Fire Protection District No. 3) had 19 employees and six volunteers during the audit period, and operating expenditures of approximately
$2.6 million in 2019 and $2.5 million in 2018.
The fire department serves Port Ludlow, Paradise Bay, Shine, and the surrounding areas in Jefferson County.