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Volunteer groups should have financial transparency

December 4, 2011
Morning Journal News

The need for transparency has become a catch-phrase to describe anything, especially government-related, that has previously been shielded from public view.

The need for transparency, however, doesn't end with open government, it must also be extended to volunteer organizations which handle public money.

The recent revelation that as much as $100,000 may be missing from the East Liverpool Band Boosters' accounts, emphasizes the needs for checks and balances in community organizations run by volunteers.

The East Liverpool Band Booster dilemma is not the first theft of this type that we've reported, it's just the most recent.

One of the problems with these types of organizations is everyone knows everyone else involved and with familiarity comes trust. And, with the busy lives most of us lead, we're grateful for the volunteers who step to the plate and donate their time to these organizations. Sometimes we feel so indebted to them that we trust them implicitly. But not everyone is worthy of unconditional trust and when large sums of money are involved, even normally honest individuals may be tempted, especially if their personal financial situation is on shaky ground.

All such volunteer groups, but especially those who raise funds to benefit children, should immediately examine their procedures and institute a system of checks and balances. People in charge of the money for these organizations, if they're honest, should welcome another set of eyes going over their financial records.

East Liverpool City Schools Treasurer Todd Puster and Superintendent James Herring are working to put together new guidelines and regulations to keep the school board better informed about booster organizations' finances.

Puster said, "You can't protect yourself 100 percent from a dishonest person, but you can detect a dishonest person early on."

Let's hope that this expensive lesson helps all organizations to get their financial books in order.



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