Concerned Citizens of West Mayfield

Public Safety | Fire Service


Every so often the question comes up from citizens regarding public review of West Mayfield Volunteer Fire Department’s financial records. As recently as early December 2023 during a meeting between fire department representatives and citizens, it was asked if citizens could review the fire department’s “books” (financial records). The answer from fire chief Lou Little was, categorically, “no.”

While fire chief Little is probably within his legal right (technically) to shield the fire department’s finances from direct citizens’ view, the Pennsylvania State Auditor General takes a different view when it comes to its audit authority over the West Mayfield Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association:
This report is a matter of public record and is available online at
The latest auditor’s report of the West Mayfield Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association was made public on December 11, 2023. Citizens should be very concerned about this report for three reasons:
The findings are very troubling, suggesting serious managerial and administrative deficiencies and incompetency

. . . the relief association did not, in all significant respects, comply with applicable state laws, contracts, bylaws, and administrative procedures as they relate to the receipt of state aid and the expenditure of relief association funds, collectively as a whole. Therefore, the relief association may be subject to the potential withholding of its upcoming state aid distribution . . . (p. 3)

As stated in the audit, these findings were made known to the West Mayfield Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association (presumably well before December 2023) including Ms. Wendy Harker (President), Ms. Denise Sabella (Vice President), Mr. Michael Caler (Secretary), Mr. Ronald Sano (Treasurer). Despite serving as chair of council’s Fire & Police Committee, Ms. Harker did not alert council to these issues, which could negatively affect state funding our fire service. The audit was neither mentioned in any monthly report to council nor in Ms. Harker’s annual report of the fire department (delivered in January 2024).
Moreover, the audit states that, “A report was also distributed to the following municipality, which allocated foreign fire insurance tax monies to this relief association: Ms. Patricia Lansberry, Secretary, West Mayfield Borough” (p. 12). The receipt of this audit was not mentioned by Ms. Lansberry in her monthly correspondence reports because either she did not receive the audit or chose not to bring it to council’s attention in her officer’s report.
Had council been aware of this damning audit, we can only speculate as to the kind of serious engagement it would have had with representatives of the West Mayfield Volunteer Firemen’s Relief Association, especially as council was deliberating on budget appropriations to fund the fire service for 2024.
Inasmuch as our elected officials seem to have been unaware or silent about this audit report (despite 4 out of 7 councilmembers serving in the fire department through December 2023), we are drawing attention to these audit findings on behalf of all citizens.


Our Change agenda offers legislative proposals based on actual issues and problems we’ve identified in consultation with West Mayfield citizens, elected officials (past and present), community development experts throughout Beaver County, and our observations of best practices within well-managed municipalities across the Commonwealth. Many of these recommendations have received the public endorsement of most councilmembers and the mayor, as made known at our “CCWM Council Candidates Forum” held on November 1, 2023. (Recording available on our YouTube channel). CCWM welcomes your input regarding this proposed motion. 


WHEREAS, the Borough of West Mayfield is bound by Pennsylvania statutes, the Borough Code, and local ordinance to provide fire service ensuring the public safety and well being of citizens and to protect property; and

WHEREAS, the Borough of West Mayfield currently recognizes and designates the West Mayfield Volunteer Fire Department as its municipal fire service provider; and

WHEREAS, the Borough of West Mayfield has in the past and/or currently provides financial and in-kind support for the West Mayfield Volunteer Fire Department, including but not limited to revenue from Foreign Fire Insurance tax premiums; annual budget appropriations from the General Fund: vehicle parts, vehicle fuel, insurance & bonding, cash contribution, and minor machinery & equipment; and the Borough of West Mayfield has for many years granted the tax-payer owned park shelter rental concession to the West Mayfield Volunteer Fire Department to support the fire service, including providing administrative support for this enterprise via the borough’s website; and the Borough of West Mayfield has for many years granted a lease for $1 per annum to the West Mayfield Volunteer Fire Department to use the tax-payer owned property abutting the fire station (the parking lot); and

WHEREAS, in recent years citizens and elected officials have expressed serious concerns about the competence, readiness, and fiscal soundness of the borough’s current fire service, including a crisis in leadership and severe shortage of able-bodied and trained firefighters; and

WHEREAS, the Borough of West Mayfield has a statutory and moral duty to its citizens to investigate and evaluate such claims objectively and with diligence, and to report its findings to the citizens, including future recommendations for the fire service: therefore


The Borough of West Mayfield council hereby establishes a fact-finding effort to review the competence, readiness, and fiscal soundness of the borough’s current fire service. Council shall appoint a special ad hoc committee (known as the “Fire Service Review Committee”) empowered to hold public hearings and, with permission from Council, to exercise subpoena powers as authorized by The Borough Code.

The president of council, with the advice and consent of council, shall appoint members to this committee, including no less than three (3) councilmembers, three (3) citizens of the borough, and one (1) representative of the West Mayfield Volunteer Fire Department. The president of council shall appoint a committee chair and receive regular updates from the chair about committee activities. Committee progress reports shall be presented at council’s regular monthly meetings and entered into the public record.

The Fire Service Review Committee shall be tasked with presenting its findings and recommendations to council and citizens regarding the Borough’s fire service within six months of its appointment.

Council hereby approves this motion on ________________.