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Boyceville Ambulance operating on borrowed money, auditor says

BOYCEVILLE — The finances of the Boyceville Ambulance looks bleak because of overestimating receipts and uncollectable accounts.

According to Tom Kortas, of the auditing firm of CliftonLarsonAllen, “the ambulance service is operating on borrowed money.” His financial report was shared with members of the Boyceville Community Ambulance District at their regular monthly meeting on January 15. The report showed that the service had receipts totaling $513,753, which included $248,000 of borrowed money to finance the remodeling of the new ambulance station for the calendar year of 2013.

However, the disbursements for the operation of the service totaled $347,842. The report indicated that the services ended last year with a $61,036 negative variance over what was budgeted. Figures released at the meeting showed that the Ambulance’s fund balance was in the hole by $32,672.45.

Kortas pointed out that the service’s receipts have fallen short of what was estimated in four of the last five years. His report stated that last year the service had budgeted $163,000 for collections from the firm that does the billing. But, they had to write off some $60,000 and collected only about $81,000 and that left a $22,000 deficit. The report showed that the service spent some $177,386 in wages and benefits. Kortas suggested to the group that they be more conservative on their estimates.

Matt Feeney, the head of the ambulance service explained about the deficit this past year. He explained that they had 169 ambulance calls in 2013. “That was 30 less than the year before,” he stated. “We estimated on what we figured we would get from LifeQuest (the firm that is the collection agency for the service) but they had a write off on uncollectable accounts.” He also noted that the service receives less money for each run from people on Medicare and Medicaid.

The group was also planning to set aside $10,000 each year for major purchases, but this has not happened because as District Chairman Gib Krueger stated, “we didn’t have the money to set aside, you used it for operations.” But after a long discussion the group voted 4 to 3 to set aside that amount this year, which could push the service further into the red. Feeney also reported that the service has three more EMTs that are completing advance training; bringing the total number with advanced training to a dozen.

Kortas also presented the group with the fire department financial statements and they looked very good. Although the fire department spent some $61,108 more than was budgeted, their reserves made up for the deficit. That report indicated that the department had $168,459 in receipts compared to $229,567 in disbursements including some $142,976 for new equipment, which included a new tank truck. The department also received $45,120 in donations.

The status of the fire districts accounts showed they had $91,693.22 cash on hand plus another $100,000 CD.

Fire Chief, Brian Marlette told the group that the department answered 62 calls last year of which 13 were mutual aid to other fire departments while they received mutual aid for six calls in the Boyceville district.