Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

November 14, 2013

EMS collections behind

By Gary Nelson
Senior staffwriter

CROSSVILLE — Ambulance service revenue collections are down approximately $200,000 and commissioners on the budget committee requested a report from the director during this month's committee meeting.

"Our (third-party) online billing is getting closer and we're about two weeks away. Our office staff is low right now so we're about a month behind on (billing) collections," Jeff Dodson, county fire chief and EMS director, said.

"How much money are we talking about?" Harry Sabine, 1st District commissioner and budget committee chairman, asked.

"About a month, so roughly around $200,000," Dodson said.

John Kinnunen, 9th District commissioner, said he figured it to be around $230,000.

"This could be a problem when we get on the new (billing) system," Allen Foster, 4th District commissioner said.

"We're behind on billing, but once we get this transition over and get the office (help) back, we'll go back and get this cleaned up," Dodson said.

Dodson explained he is short on office staff right now in the EMS department because one full-time employee had to be out for surgery.

"She ought to be back pretty soon and we should be able to get everything straightened out," Dodson said.

In July of this year, the county approved an agreement for the ambulance service to start using a third-party medical billing system, but the system has not gone into effect.

That company promises the county will see an increase in revenue collections once it takes over billing.

The company requires a considerable amount of data information from the county's EMS department in order to set the system up with the software for billing.

"We're 95 percent complete on getting this thing going. We had to get all the info to them and we're down to the last bit of info, then we'll need a three-day inservice for the staff (for training). We're heading in the right direction, we're just creeping along," Dodson said.

"Do you need to hire some part-time help to get caught up?" Sabine asked.

"We need to get on this as soon as possible," Dave Hassler, 3rd District commissioner said.

"This sounds to me like it needs to be main priority to get this stuff billed," MIke Harvel, 7th District commissioner, said.

"Why haven't you hired somebody?" Carmin Lynch, 9th District commissioner, asked.

Dodson explained he didn't want to hire somebody, have them start working for a while and then have to lay them off after the regular people came back.

"I anticipated not having to hire more people and trying to save money," Dodson said.

"Sounds to me like you need to put two people on and get this caught up," Harvel said.

"Maybe the mayor (Kenneth Carey Jr.) can encourage Jeff to hire some help and report back to us," Sabine said.

Carey, who attended the meeting, said they would get together and look at the subject.

Nathan Brock, Cumberland County Finance director, reported Dodson did turn a check for $190,000 that day, which was not included in Brock's monthly revenue collection report.

In other revenue collections, Brock reported the county's local option sales tax collections were down slightly from the budgeted amount.

Brock reported that for a three-month collection term, the revenue was down by a total of $30,960. Actual collections are listed at $2,069,530 of a budgeted annual amount of $7,898,741.

Brock did say that, although the revenue collections are not meeting budgeted figures, actual collections are up slightly over actual collection numbers last year.

Brock said according to figures submitted to him by the county trustee's office, property tax collections were at 16.2 percent of the budgeted amount.

Brock reported hotel/motel tax collections were at $237,453, or 32.2 percent of the budgeted amount of $738,000.

He also reported ambulance service collections were at $370,500, or 13.9 percent of the $2,671,000 budgeted amount — which did not include the $190,000 Dodson turned in that day.

Brock said that prisoner boarding collections were at $337,662, or 32.3 percent of the budgeted amount of $1,046,000.