Sunday, September 03, 2006

BoS Special EMS Meeting - 8/28/06

On Monday, August 28th the Board of Supervisors held a special meeting to decide which company, Forks EMS or Suburban EMS would be the designated provider for the term beginning 9/1/2006. Sarah Mausolf (Express Times) and Joe Nixon (Morning Call) were there and their articles are must reads as is this editorial in the 9/3/06 Express Times. There was no printed agenda.

Payment for the new fire truck was the first order of business. Solicitor Karl Kline explained that the application for the PEMA loan was submitted last week and the State will notify him as well as the fire department if the loan is approved.

The Township must then enact an ordinance for the debt. The new ordinance will have to be approved by the State because it is for additional debt. And, after that the Township can close on the PEMA loan.

Because of the imminent deadline (the truck is ready for inspection and delivery) the Township must make a loan to the fire department of the balance needed. There is $185,160 in the truck accrual fund. The amount due to the truck manufacturer is $210,789.92. The shortfall will be made up with money from an expense accrual account.

The PEMA loan amount will be for $100,000 and when the money arrives, it will replace the money used from the Township accounts.

The vote was 5:0 to authorize writing a check for $210,789.92. Supervisors Howell and Miller will sign the check on Tuesday so that (2) fire company representatives can take it with them on their trip to inspect (and pay for) the truck.

Forks Township EMS Squad - Supervisor Nicholas said that Forks EMS attended the last Public Safety Committee meeting and presented a letter with "monthly and annual amounts" to the committee. Nicholas added that a Mr. Bartholomew from Keystone Nazareth Bank & Trust called her on Friday but she did not get his phone call.

Bill Keifer, newly elected president of the Forks EMS board of directors addressed the Supervisors. Keifer said that they put out a call to "life members" who came to an August 10 meeting and elected the new board: Judy Arnold - vice president, Carol Warner - treasurer, Dotty Yautz - secretary, Jeff Hunt - member-at-large, Robert Kimmel - captain, and Thomas Lamontage (sic) - assistant captain.

Keifer talked about the hand-off to Suburban EMS when the squad closed its doors in July because of mismanagement. Keifer said that there were things he could not talk about because of the ongoing police investigation. He did say that when the doors were closed, they had a 60 day time limit in their minds for when they could put a plan together and start providing service to Forks again.

In their plan, the squad would begin 24 hour ALS service on September 11. And, once the doors are reopened they will work with the "transports" that they had before - in one 12 hour shift. The plan rules out long distance transports since in their analysis, long distance travel costs them money and runs down the vehicles. Keifer said that they have very few records from the last administration. Life member John Kuhns (sic), public accountant, has volunteered to restructure the squad’s finances.

To work this plan, the squad will need 18 paid employees in addition to their 10 volunteers. The will save some money by handling their own phone calls for transports and not using a service. Their vehicles are being brought into working condition by Frick (inspections) and Brown Daub Ford (repairs).

Keifer said that KNBT met with them regarding their loan. He also said that they owe $27,423.31 on their 2% PEMA loan and that no payments have been made since September 2005. The payments are $460/mth and they are going to make a payment and a half ($690) as a good faith payment right now. Keifer said too, that there is a paydown grant of $5,496 that has been approved but not issued. Paperwork must be changed because Cory Dailey’s name is on it. After the paperwork is corrected it will take about 3 weeks to get the money and that money will go directly to the loan and make it current.

Keifer said that approximately $30K has come in since July and it has been used to make up back wages and pay current payrolls. He said too, that Cetronia (under contract to do the squad’s dispatching and billing at the rate of $14K/mth) has not been paid for 3 months and because Cory Dailey’s name is on their contract as the authorized contract, has shut them off. Sweet Billing, another contract billing company that they used has been sending them payments. Keifer said that the did not know why Cetronia charged so much. To his knowledge, there is $230K in uncollected receivables at Cetronia and $490K at Sweet Billing. The squad hopes to collect $125K of it.

The squad’s total outstanding debt is $278,000. Most of that is for long term loans.

Dr. Everitt Binns, executive director of the Eastern PA EMS Council addressed the Board and said that he is responsible for recommending to the Council whether or not Forks EMS’ license should be suspended. He said that the squad had a State license to provide 24/7 ALS and BLS service and violated and broke the law by not giving a 90 day notice (before closing their doors) and that he will recommend that the license be suspended.

Binns said that his department provides (free) help to squads to develop sound business/financial plans. He said that it could take 60-90 days and that once he approves of the plan, he will recommend that the license be reinstated. He does not know yet whether that recommendation will be for BLS, ALS, or both.

Binns was asked if the Council ever ruled against his recommendation. He said that they did once and that was in the granting of a license to the Forks squad. Binns said that he predicted that they would be out of business in 4/5 years. He was wrong by one month.

Nicholas asked what could be done about subscriptions for Forks residents. Kline said that according the letter he received from Suburban’s lawyer, one of the options is that Forks EMS and Suburban EMS could conduct a joint subscription drive where the money collected would go to an accrual account and be drawn out (1/12) monthly by whichever squad is the provider. Currently that would be Suburban.

Keifer noted that Suburban is using the Forks facility free of charge (at the moment) and because of that there are increased expenses. Kline suggested that some of the subscription money could be allocated as rent and that it wouldn’t mean that Forks EMS is operating without a license.

A motion was made that if the EMS Council backs the squad’s plan and the squad is re-licensed that Forks Supervisors will back the Forks squad. It passed 4:0 (Hoff abstained because of a potential conflict.)

There was no Executive Session and the meeting was adjourned.

Our objective is to relate what is experienced at Forks Township meetings for those who cannot attend. We are attempting to be as factual as we can. If we make a mistake, tell us via email or COMMENT here in the blog, and we will do our best to correct it. We are not perfect. We want to get it right.

1 comment:

Write-on said...

I am quite surprised that Forks EMS is in such a hurry to get the blessing of Supervisors to commence service to our township. They owe a lot of money, no licensed medics, ambulances out of repair, no business plan were some of the conditions admitted to by new members of the EMS board. Oh, an additional point, no PA license.

One board member after another spoke and tried to distance themselves from the previous members who ran the service into the ground. They spoke about the good old days when the EMS was well managed. Judy Arnold, the new EMS Vice President was one of those speakers. It was not that long ago that she was in charge. The seeds of disaster were present under her watch and grew into what we have today.

It seems that Arnold attended Supervisor Bonnie Nicholas’ Public Safety Meeting to get the subscription solicitation of Forks residents going again. That’s easy enough. Just require Forks EMS to work it out with Suburban, our current provider. I can’t figure how Supervisor Nicholas can turn that discussion into a special meeting to consider reinstating Forks EMS in the township. The continuance of the subscription solicitations is important to all of us and the two EMS groups need to reach agreement immediately. Nicholas has to stop listening to her friend, Judy, and allow the PA EMS Council do its work.