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November 23, 2017, 11:53:57 pm
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Author Topic: EMSA in OKC, Tulsa's helping out. I'm sure OKC would do the same  (Read 9538 times)
guido911
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« Reply #30 on: October 28, 2011, 03:56:35 pm »

There's another article about EMSA in the TW about ownership of the ambulances.

It looks like they're under a magnifying glass now.

As they damned well should be.
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Breadburner
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« Reply #31 on: October 29, 2011, 08:02:20 am »

I think the City owns the Ambulances....They are they ones that auction them off .....
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AquaMan
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« Reply #32 on: October 29, 2011, 11:11:34 am »

Everything I listed in my post-

Isn't any one curious about a contract renewal for EMSA that is coming up in October just before an election in November? A contract that runs 4 years and can't be terminated without a buyout of the entire contract? Consider these observations; same director since inception now approaching $240K yr not including perks, raises for him and managers included in a 16 page contract that C Bird, board member and former councilor and mayoral aide, didn't even read before signing, no councilor dared bring up the contract till World ran story (isn't anyone curious why the World dumped on the Mayor and EMSA so publicly and near elections?) duplication of efforts passed off as necessary even though half the operation subsidized the other half, a proposal to replace EMSA with TFD shelved by a mayor who, coincidentally,  informed the TFD that they can no longer support candidates in local elections, is spending $28,000 on terrazo flooring for bathrooms, is buying $1000 dollar chairs (hello Herman Miller) is owned by a company in Texas, has managed to solidify collections of operating fees by using COT billing and won't let people opt out easily even though their own insurance companies probably pay the $1500 in pickup fees as well. (edit: My understanding is that we not only do their billing and collections but we also paid for and own the vehicles they operate. If true they may very well be soon running informercials at 2am selling the idea on dvd's.)

-came from a source with recent experience in both TFD and EMSA. They weren't just conjecture. My response is that either someone knows where the bones are buried or complicity in questionable decisions is pretty well distributed or (more likely) organizations like authorities that are quasi-governmental, quasi-business tend to bloat and are hard to disassemble even when it makes sense to do so because the principals are usually pretty well compensated and resist those efforts.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2011, 11:15:26 am by AquaMan » Logged

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nathanm
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« Reply #33 on: October 29, 2011, 01:29:14 pm »

Sorry, AM, I don't have a problem with spending a little more in capex to improve the morale of employees by improving their work environment.

The ice cube is definitely way too nice by your standard, especially if it came with the Aeron chairs at every cube that Wiltel had, and even if the city did take out the break areas on every floor. If they didn't (I haven't been in there since the city bought the building, so I don't know), it's way, way too nice.
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"Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration" --Abraham Lincoln
AquaMan
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« Reply #34 on: October 29, 2011, 03:44:12 pm »

Sorry, AM, I don't have a problem with spending a little more in capex to improve the morale of employees by improving their work environment.

The ice cube is definitely way too nice by your standard, especially if it came with the Aeron chairs at every cube that Wiltel had, and even if the city did take out the break areas on every floor. If they didn't (I haven't been in there since the city bought the building, so I don't know), it's way, way too nice.

Who cares about what Wiltel had. That's the stockholders money they're messing with. We're talking a government function here (at least quasi since they figured out how to get the heavy lifting done by the taxpayer with the profit skimmed off into private hands and offices). I watched COT employees beg to get approval for $250 dollar chairs when I worked retail. Most had been using the same chair for a decade.  A knockoff of an Airon chair can be had for about $300 btw. Just as good and taxpayer friendly.

I suspect the morale of EMSA management is in pretty good shape if you're at the management level and above even without $28,000 terrazzo floors in their restrooms. I called on Doctors whose offices and restrooms weren't that well equipped.

But then they paid for them themselves.
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nathanm
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« Reply #35 on: October 29, 2011, 04:17:42 pm »

Who cares about what Wiltel had.
You ought to if you really want to embark on a crusade against public employees having nice workplaces, since the city has it now. So much glass is too expensive to wash, we really should board up the windows to save some money.
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"Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration" --Abraham Lincoln
AquaMan
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« Reply #36 on: October 29, 2011, 04:53:50 pm »

You ought to if you really want to embark on a crusade against public employees having nice workplaces, since the city has it now. So much glass is too expensive to wash, we really should board up the windows to save some money.

We're having parallel conversations. Or you're trying to deflect the real conversation to something you can defend.

I support  comfortable workplace environments for public employees. These are not public employees. These are not just comfortable workplaces either, they are excessive by most office standards. I have worked in offices for for 40 years and never saw those kinds of expenditures outside of the top floor executive suites at an oil company. Somehow, ceramic tile, standard office chairs and metal desks, later replaced by composite wood desks were the standard and worked fine.  I support good equipment for real public employees and am embarrassed at what they have to put up with.

But, you digress. This is more than excessive furnishings expenditures.
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guido911
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« Reply #37 on: October 29, 2011, 06:00:04 pm »

We're having parallel conversations. Or you're trying to deflect the real conversation to something you can defend.

I support  comfortable workplace environments for public employees. These are not public employees. These are not just comfortable workplaces either, they are excessive by most office standards. I have worked in offices for for 40 years and never saw those kinds of expenditures outside of the top floor executive suites at an oil company. Somehow, ceramic tile, standard office chairs and metal desks, later replaced by composite wood desks were the standard and worked fine.  I support good equipment for real public employees and am embarrassed at what they have to put up with.

But, you digress. This is more than excessive furnishings expenditures.

You're getting a taste of what I'm dealing with in another thread when it comes to spending taxpayer money. I hope the powers that be can keep the pressure on EMSA.
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nathanm
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« Reply #38 on: October 30, 2011, 01:34:19 pm »

We're having parallel conversations. Or you're trying to deflect the real conversation to something you can defend.

As best I can tell, this "waste" makes up a tiny portion of EMSA's budget. A drop in the bucket. If you could show that they were continually spending a significant fraction of their budget on luxury goods, I'd be a lot more inclined to agree with the complaints. I don't really care how they build/renovate a building, as long as the budget for doing so isn't excessive. They know better than I do what they need.

I'm not defending so much as noting that the complaints here seem to be based only tenuously on what we actually know happened.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2011, 01:36:11 pm by nathanm » Logged

"Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration" --Abraham Lincoln
AquaMan
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« Reply #39 on: October 30, 2011, 02:03:23 pm »

As best I can tell, this "waste" makes up a tiny portion of EMSA's budget. A drop in the bucket. If you could show that they were continually spending a significant fraction of their budget on luxury goods, I'd be a lot more inclined to agree with the complaints. I don't really care how they build/renovate a building, as long as the budget for doing so isn't excessive. They know better than I do what they need.

I'm not defending so much as noting that the complaints here seem to be based only tenuously on what we actually know happened.

Yeah, well that's what I mean by parallel conversations. My interest in quasi-governmental authorities like EMSA, has been expressed before. They are unholy alliances, (in this case one that is probably a duplication of efforts) that benefit the private side much more than the public side and once established become bloated, unassailable fortresses. The building and furnishings are only one symptom of this misguided effort at public service. If you know the history of EMSA, and you drew any implications at all from my post listing the strange qualities of EMSA you would certainly know this is a bad deal for the taxpayer on many counts.

Just move away from your focus on the expenditures for furnishings and buildings and take a referee's look at this entity. Unless you have some tie to them, you can't help but shake your head.
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godboko71
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« Reply #40 on: October 30, 2011, 07:43:05 pm »

Just move away from your focus on the expenditures for furnishings and buildings and take a referee's look at this entity. Unless you have some tie to them, you can't help but shake your head.

Bloated executive costs come to mind, duplication in costs in IT, PR, Marketing, Communications. Oh duplication in facilities and maintenance. We could probably hire more fire and police, or just pocket the saving for a rainy day.
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jacobi
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« Reply #41 on: October 30, 2011, 08:15:54 pm »

I would like to note, that No one from OKC has chimed in on this.
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« Reply #42 on: November 01, 2011, 09:41:58 am »

More from TW:

EMSA transfer debt between regions as high as $2 million

Quote
EMSA has been transferring funds from its Tulsa division to subsidize operations in Oklahoma City for at least seven years with amounts owed as high as $2 million, records show.

Meanwhile, the agency announced plans Monday to be more transparent with its financial information, including monthly visits to Tulsa City Council meetings.

The Emergency Medical Services Authority is a government agency that manages ambulance services for more than 1 million people in Tulsa, Sand Springs, Jenks and Bixby, as well as Oklahoma City and numerous suburbs in that area. The agency receives about $4.8 million a year from a monthly utility bill fee paid by Tulsans. It also receives revenues from a utility bill fee in Oklahoma City.

Oklahoma City officials were rankled last week after learning the agency's western division owed $800,000 to the eastern division, requiring interest payments. In an earlier letter, City Manager Jim Couch had asked EMSA CEO Steve Williamson to notify city officials immediately if expenses would exceed revenues.

Officials in Tulsa have also expressed concern about the transfers, saying they do not want tax money from Tulsa subsidizing operations in Oklahoma City.

Records show the practice has been going on for years. A letter written May 5, 2010, by EMSA CFO Kent Torrence stated the loan balance at that time was $1.8 million due to higher than expected expenses, lower revenues and budget miscalculations. The letter was sent to Oklahoma City Deputy Budget Director Doug Dowler.

"The West has had some balance payable to the East for the last five years," Torrence's letter states.

Since 2005, fiscal year-end balances owed by Oklahoma City to Tulsa ranged from a low of $200,000 last year to $2 million at the end of fiscal year 2010.

Ed Shadid, an EMSA trustee and city councilor for Oklahoma City, said officials in Oklahoma City learned about the transfers between divisions in May 2010 and told Williamson to take steps to discontinue the practice.

"Here we are 18 months later and we've got an $800,000 balance," Shadid said. "It seems as though EMSA leadership is testing some boundaries. They will find that the city of Oklahoma City's boundaries are firm."

Torrence said steps have been taken to eliminate the need to transfer funds between divisions, including building up a reserve fund in Oklahoma City.

The agency has also announced steps to make its finances more transparent. The changes follow an investigation by the Tulsa World that found the agency had spent funds on items including a $9,000 area rug, a $3,800 trophy case and a $15,000 stone feature with EMSA's logo. It also budgeted spending nearly $150,000 for lobbyists and public relations costs statewide this year.

In a written statement, EMSA board chairman James Griffin said the expenses "only add up to a minuscule portion of our budget" and the items were purchased over the past 30 years.

"While it appears we have not been transparent throughout this process that has not been our intent," the statement says. "Going forward, we are implementing new initiatives and enhancing current practices to make it easier for elected officials and citizens to access and understand our finances."

Steps EMSA announced Monday include easier access to EMSA financial reports, archived video of agency board meetings and annual reports, all to be available on the agency's website. EMSA will also resume the practice of giving a monthly financial review to Tulsa city councilors.

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heironymouspasparagus
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« Reply #43 on: November 01, 2011, 11:51:37 am »

Looking at their web site, they make the comment in the FAQ section about revenues;

Nearly three-quarters of EMSA's operating budget comes from patient billing revenues. The cities EMSA serves also provide funding directly (though a general fund allocation, which is how most cities fund law enforcement and fire protection services, too) or indirectly (through a fee placed on citizen's utility bills). Due to inadequate reimbursement from Medicare and the cost of providing services to uninsured patients, most ambulance providers are unable to operate on patient billing revenues alone.


Can see no way to verify since they don't post any financials that I could find.  That may help their case about this money transfer. (??)  Would like to see annual reports.

Not sure I understand why Tulsa would be upset over the transfer - it is paid back with interest between divisions.  Kind of a standard business type procedure - I have been in several companies that do similar "sleight of hand" things.  OKC is the one who ought to be irritated - having to pay interest, and they are, since they started this whole discussion.  OKC has 47 ambulances, Tulsa 42, so again, we get the smaller resources, but cover a much smaller area/population.

Big question is; can we get the same service, response time, etc for less than the $4.8 million EMSA gets today?  I know Broken Arrow runs its ambulance service and it is very good...don't know how much it costs, though.  And it isn't just as simple as "we already have the personnel" in place to switch over.  If we already have enough people on staff to do ambulance too, then that means we are overstaffed for current work load.

My and family experience with both Tulsa and Broken Arrow ambulance is that both are very good.  Is there something compelling to cause a change?


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« Reply #44 on: November 01, 2011, 12:38:03 pm »

Not sure I understand why Tulsa would be upset over the transfer - it is paid back with interest between divisions.


There tends to be a considerable amount of donor-city-itus for Tulsa.

Tulsa is promised a return but rarely sees it.  I'm not a fan of the high risk.
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