Auditors call for changes in EMS accounting

ORIGINALLY WRITTEN BRENDA CONYERS
In Monday’s county commission meeting, JoAnn Knak, director of Marion County Emergency Medical Services, announced changes would need to be made in the way EMS finances are handled.


During a recent audit, auditors discovered each department had a separate account, which is not allowed by state statutes.


“The EMS program is 30 years old,” Knak said. “The individual crews have had their own bank accounts since day one.”


Knak said that money was received from memorials and donations and put into whatever account was specified. Each crew would then use the money to purchase the supplies it needed.


“I have never kept it hidden,” Knak told commissioners. “This has always been done this way.”


Auditors told Knak the funds would have to be channeled through the county and not given to the individual departments.


Chairman Leroy Wetta asked County Clerk Carol Maggard if the EMS account could become a line item.


After a brief discussion, Commissioner Howard Collett said: “Let’s check with the auditor and see how the best way is to handle this. We want to keep the money as local as we can, but we want to do it right.”


The other commissioners agreed with Collett and Knak will consult with the auditor.


She also reported EMS made 53 calls during March, with Hillsboro and Marion each having 21.


Hillsboro, Marion and Peabody crews are working to purchase new cots for each of the local ambulances. The cost of a new cot, Knak had reported at an earlier meeting, is $3,780.


At Monday’s meeting she reported the city of Marion gave $500 and Hillsboro $2,500 toward the purchase of the new cots. She was going to attend a Peabody City Council meeting Monday night to solicit funds.


Knak later reported, that the Peabody council agreed to put $500 toward the cot purchase now, and would match funds of private donations up to a second $500.


Knak said two people have dropped out of the county’s EMS class, leaving six students working toward the final exam in May. Eight people are currently enrolled in the First Responder Class which will start April 16.


Marion County Lake Superintendent Dale Snelling asked the board to approve his purchase of a new light bar for the top of his lake vehicle and communications radio.


The board voted to approve the purchase for $1399.88, which will come from Snelling’s lake budget.


Snelling also reported the improvement board for the sewer district had called for a survey of their property to see if the Girl Scouts storage shed was crossing a property line.


The proposed project had approved by the improvement board last fall. However, this year three new members are serving on the board.


Snelling said the sewer district building, south of the dam, was on property rented from the county on a 99-year lease.


The Marion Girl Scouts have been working gathering aluminum cans the last several years to raise money toward a storage shed which would be put out at the lake. Because of legal technicalities the county will own the building and the the Girl Scouts will pay all the fees and utilities.


Last fall, Snelling placed four orange flags to mark the position of the proposed storage shed, just south of the sewer district building. The two buildings would be “back-to-back,” he said.


Commissioners asked why the survey is being called for after the 15×18-foot concrete slab is in place, instead of when the flags were marking the site.


“They are saying the building is too close to them,” Snelling said. “On top of that, David Brazil came out and asked about our building permit. I

didn’t realize the county had to get a building permit to put up a building owned by the county on county property.”


No further action will be taken until after the survey has been completed. The commissioners planned to drive out to the county lake following the meeting to look at some things mentioned in a letter written by a county lake resident.


In response to the letter, Snelling said it was important to remember the purpose of Marion County Lake.


Snelling said many years ago the proposal to build a county lake was put to Marion County voters, who voted to have a lake for their own use.


The letter spoke of dead trees and brush by and in the lake. Snelling explained that brush was used for environmental reasons, and stressed the lake was a fishing lake.


“The out-of-county people who buy camping permits and fishing licenses are a lions’ share of our budget,” he said. “If we mess up the environment, we mess up the fishing. If there’s no fishing, the people from out-of-county won’t come, and there goes the money. The taxpayers will have to pay for the lake and the fish.”


Dogs running at large created problems for walkers, according to the letter. Sheriff Lee Becker said he had a meeting Tuesday with some lake residents about the problem and would begin to address the issue right away.


“You should be able to walk around the lake safely, ” Becker said. “People need to get their dogs contained.”


Snelling said he was anxious to do more things, but only had budget for larger projects the last three years.


“But we still have to remember the county lake is for Marion County residents,” he concluded. “We’re not a country club.”


In his report to the commission, Becker said:


— sheriff units will be adding hours to patrolling the reservoir as per a contract between the Corps of Engineers and the department


— more radar units will be purchased so that every vehicle will have a unit which will record speed from oncoming traffic, traffic behind the sheriff’s vehicle, and passing traffic.


— horses seized from a home in Marion County have been moved outside of the county because the location had been revealed and individuals were coming onto the property.

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