Financial Procedure FAQ 4

Can a volunteer municipal fire department maintain funds donated to the department or raised for the department's benefit by the department's fundraising efforts, in a separate account in the fire department's name and exercise exclusive control over the funds?

For many years, the answer was no (see Financial Procedure 202 and 230). Now the answer is yes, if the municipality has enacted an ordinance authorizing such activity pursuant to Wis. Stat. sec. 66.0608 which was enacted as part of 2001 Wis. Act 16. Section 66.0608 allows municipalities to enact an ordinance that authorizes municipal fire, emergency medical technician, and first responder volunteer funds to be maintained in a public depository in a separate account in the department's name, and gives the department exclusive control over the expenditure of the funds. Municipal fire, emergency medical technician and first responder volunteer funds are defined as "funds of a municipality that are raised by employees of the (fire, emergency medical technician or first responder) department, by volunteers, or by donation to the (fire, emergency, medical technician or first responder) department, for the benefit" of the particular department. Secs. 66.0608(1)(b), (c), (e) and (h).

The ordinance must designate which employee(s) or officer(s) within the departments are authorized to deposit funds and exercise the control. Such an ordinance may limit the type and amount of funds that may be deposited into the account, limit the amount of withdrawals that may be made from the account, as well as the purposes for which withdrawals can be made, and can impose audit and reporting requirements. The law makes it clear that even if such an ordinance is enacted, volunteer funds remain the municipality's property until disbursed. Sec. 66.0608(4), Stats.