THE FIREMEN’S FUND IN NEW JERSEY.
The following communication appeared in the New York Times a few days since: In Tuesday’s Times appears a card from Hon. Henry C. Kelsey, Secretary of the State of New Jersey, in which he contradicts the statement in Saturday’s issue that certain of his fees “were coolly deducted by the secretary from moneys paid him by insurance companies for the benefit of disabled firemen. He says: “No fees for any service have ever been deducted from the moneys collected by this department for the benefit of disabled firemen. On the contrary, the moneys so collected have been paid to the treasurers of the several fire organizations regularly, without any deduction whatever.”
The firemen have long been under a different impression, and last year tried in vain to get the law so changed that the insurance companies should pay the moneys in question directly to the benevolent fire associations instead of having the funds go through the hands of the Secretary of State. This year they did get such a bill passed, and, in advocacy of it, members and Senators stated openly on the floor of the Legislature, and without contradiction, that it would double the receipts of the associations in question, because the Secretary of State now deducted from the insurance taxes affected his fees or other services.
That they had reason to believe this appears from the special report made by the State Treasurer a few weeks ago, in response to a resolu’ion of inquiry by the House of Assembly. The Treasurer sets forth that the Secretary of State had reported to him that the receipts of insurance companies of other States during the year ending Oct. 30, 1876, were $14,722.42, of which he had paid to benevolent fire associations, $8,513.58. ” The amount returned by the Secretary of State for
the fiscal year ending Oct. 31, 1877, from insurance companies and all other sources was $19,508.32, from which sum was deducted the amount paid benevolent fire associations, $7,915.83, the amount allowed by law for expenses, $1,764.03, and the amount due the Secretary of State for fees, leaving a balance due the State of $1,788.14, which was paid into the State Treasury by the Secretary of State.
The Firemen of the State, who take a deep interest in the funds for the benefit of their disabled or incapacitated comrades, are inclined to think that there is a discrepancy between the case of the Secretary of State aid the report of the State Treasurer, as given above. The Secretary says he pays to the benevolent fire associations all the moneys collected “ for the benefit of disabled Firemen without any deduction whatever.” The State 1 reasurer says the secretary reports having collected in 1877 $19,503.32, from which he deducted his fees and expenses, paid $7,915.83 to the benevoh nt fire associations, and $1,788.14 to the State. I he Senate Judiciary Committee reported that his fees for sending out copies of the laws for publication in the newspapers amounted to $9,060.84 in 1876 , to $6,078.36 in 1877, and to $8,171.32 in 1878. No statement of these payments appears in the printed reports of the Controller or cf the Treasurer, and no one has denied the correctness of the inference that these fees were deducted by the secretary from the moneys he received from foreign insurance companies, and which every one always supposed were collected and paid for ” the benefit of disabled or incapacitated Firemen or their families,” as the law expresses it.
The legality of Mr. Kelsey’s claim to all the fees he has got is not questioned, but there has been a considerable public curiosity as to the amount of his emoluments, and the source whence derived, and, as stated before, the Tiremen of the cities have believed that he was taking from their benevolent lunds what shou’d have been paid him from the State Treasury. As Mr. Kelsey has taken the trouble to deny this, perhaps he will take the additional trouble to explain how it is that, out of $14 722 42, collected in 1876 from insurance companies, the benevolent fire associations were paid only $8,513.58, and why those associations, in 1877, received only $7,915 83 out of $19,508.32 collected? It would also gratify many people to know how, when, or by whom his claims against the State for fees are audited and allowed, and why no statement of such fees paid out of the moneys of the State appears in the Comptroller’s or the Treasurer’s accounts.
No fair-minded person wishes to see Mr. Kelsey deprived of any of the just emoluments of his office during his incumbency, but now that public attention has been d awn to the matter there is a very general desire to get all the information needful as a basis for cutting off any useless expenditures in that office in the future. JERSEYMAN.