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November 17, 2017, 03:19:56 pm
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Author Topic: EMSA in OKC, Tulsa's helping out. I'm sure OKC would do the same  (Read 9439 times)
Townsend
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« on: October 26, 2011, 09:38:12 am »

Per Tulsa World

EMSA's Tulsa fees subsidize OKC shortfall

Quote
EMSA has used Tulsa's ambulance fees to subsidize $800,000 in shortfalls for the Oklahoma City division, the Tulsa World learned Tuesday.

Kent Torrence, chief financial officer for the Emergency Medical Services Authority, told the World that Tulsa's eastern division has been subsidizing operations shortfalls for the western division, which includes Oklahoma City.

Torrence said as of the end of September, the western division owed $800,000 to the eastern division.

EMSA 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.

Torrence said the $800,000 figure represents costs for western division operations in excess of that division's revenues to date. He said EMSA has taken steps to avoid future borrowing between the two divisions by building up a reserve fund in the western division.

Torrence said the western division is repaying the amount owed with interest.

"In October, that $800,000 drops back down to something like less than $100,000 and by the end of the year, there is no payable," Torrence said.

When City Councilor Bill Christiansen learned of Tulsa's subsidy for Oklahoma City, he said EMSA Chief Executive Officer Steve Williamson should have revealed that information to councilors during a discussion of the agency's finances at Tuesday's committee meeting.

"It appears to me that there are so many moving parts in this whole process that it would be a good idea for the city to find someone to audit EMSA from the perspective of money paid by the citizens of Tulsa into the program so that we are not paying for more services than we are getting," he said.

Christiansen said a lot of concerns are raised by the notion that "we're robbing Peter to pay Paul, and actually Tulsa is the lender."

During the committee meeting, Christiansen said he wants to amend a city ordinance to provide more oversight over EMSA. The councilor said he wants EMSA financial records, including annual audits, to be submitted to the council for review.

The council's discussion was sparked by a story in Sunday's Tulsa World that reported EMSA built up a $6.6 million cash reserve fund this year while giving pay raises, remodeling its building and paying $80,000 for lobbyists and PR firms.

The story also detailed past agency expenses, including a $999 Christmas tree, $3,000 barbecue grill and $9,000 area rug.

"If I just came here to Tulsa and read this article, I would think this is a place for me to get a loan, because anybody who spends money like this has got to have money to give me," Councilor Jack Henderson said.

Williamson defended EMSA's budget and spending and said the article could have caused confusion about the fund, which he said was 10 percent of the agency's annual operational cost. He said he is being a good steward of Tulsa's tax dollars.

Records show EMSA's operating cost this year is budgeted to be $25 million while the reserve fund's current balance is $4.1 million.

In 2007, the city instituted an optional $3.64 fee for ambulance service that is collected on the city's utility bills. Those who participate pay nothing for ambulance service.

Tulsa, the eastern division, and Oklahoma City, the western division, both collect the fee but pay it out to EMSA differently - Tulsa in one lump sum and Oklahoma City in monthly installments.

During the meeting, Christiansen acknowledged that he's never had a complaint about EMSA in the 10 years he's been a councilor.

"This discussion is not over the quality of service under your leadership," he told Williamson.

"When I see the operating reserve build up and then I see the article on Sunday that talks about the $1,000 Christmas tree and terrazzo floor and all those associated things, I really wonder what is going on," Christiansen said.

Williamson told the council that he has met with Mayor Dewey Bartlett's management team to develop a letter to further stipulate what to do with the money when the 10 percent reserve is reached.

"In the past, we've just given it back (to the city), but there is going to be a process (put in place) so there is nothing misled to the public or misled with (council) about how these funds are to be used," he said.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=17&articleid=20111026_11_A1_ULNSaa260222


I know, I know...it's not our normal donations.
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nathanm
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« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2011, 11:08:48 am »

I don't get the complaints about having a few nice things around. Who likes working in a dump? Unless you show me a pattern of a significant percentage of their budget being wasted on frivolities over a period of years, I can't get upset about that.

The last part of the article seems to say that there is no east/west subsidy if you look at it yearly. Better that EMSA as a whole not pay interest to a bank to make up for the irregularity in cash flow, assuming my reading was correct. If the western division of EMSA is in fact operating at a loss, that would be worth being concerned about.
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Hoss
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I might be moving to Montana soon...


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« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2011, 11:11:25 am »

Expecting the obligatory OKCShmalk lurkers in 3...2....1
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Townsend
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« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2011, 11:13:19 am »

I don't get the complaints about having a few nice things around. Who likes working in a dump? Unless you show me a pattern of a significant percentage of their budget being wasted on frivolities over a period of years, I can't get upset about that.

The last part of the article seems to say that there is no east/west subsidy if you look at it yearly. Better that EMSA as a whole not pay interest to a bank to make up for the irregularity in cash flow, assuming my reading was correct. If the western division of EMSA is in fact operating at a loss, that would be worth being concerned about.

I just have the feeling that if the situation was reversed the OKC govt would be calling for an investigation into the Eastern side of the state stealing all their EMSA money and spending it on ice cream makers.
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nathanm
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« Reply #4 on: October 26, 2011, 11:16:34 am »

I just have the feeling that if the situation was reversed the OKC govt would be calling for an investigation into the Eastern side of the state stealing all their EMSA money and spending it on ice cream makers.

I don't doubt it, but that doesn't make EMSA wrong. It only means that there are idiots in the world who will invent a conspiratorial narrative only tenuously connected to fact and spread it far and wide for political gain, a fact which we are all already acutely aware of.
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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
Townsend
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« Reply #5 on: October 26, 2011, 11:18:04 am »

I don't doubt it, but that doesn't make EMSA wrong. It only means that there are idiots in the world who will invent a conspiratorial narrative only tenuously connected to fact and spread it far and wide for political gain, a fact which we are all already acutely aware of.

"EMSA, West Oklahoma: they'll eat all your ice cream."
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« Reply #6 on: October 26, 2011, 11:23:54 am »

Since both services are owned by the same parent corp, isn't this a normal thing to help balance out the business? To me it seems like a non issue since EMSA has probably been doing this since they came to OK. Must be a slow newsday.
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Townsend
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« Reply #7 on: October 26, 2011, 11:27:12 am »

Since both services are owned by the same parent corp, isn't this a normal thing to help balance out the business? To me it seems like a non issue since EMSA has probably been doing this since they came to OK. Must be a slow newsday.

I'll keep looking for a story with "Tulsa tax payers finally get some of their money back from OKC".
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DTowner
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« Reply #8 on: October 26, 2011, 04:02:23 pm »

I don't think EMSA or government workers should have to work in spartan or crummy surroundings.  However, the previous T.World article gave an impression that EMSA has a lot of money sloshing around and it is is speding it on some high end furnishings.  Unlike the controversy over the state spending a lot of money to attend the air show in Paris, these expenditures of public moneys have no chance of generating any return economic benefit.  In the end, this is a failure of oversight by the governments that provide the bulk of EMSA's funding.
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guido911
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« Reply #9 on: October 26, 2011, 04:25:49 pm »

I'm with T on this one. If EMSA cannot manage its money properly in OKC, don't make us pay for it. I'm sick of getting fleeced by OKC.
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AquaMan
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« Reply #10 on: October 26, 2011, 06:21:45 pm »

If we Tulsan's can't ask and get good answers to the questions raised by a front page story in the World, then maybe we deserve to get fleeced.

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.)

Doesn't anyone else hear a corporate belch and fart here? THis is the kind of stuff fiscal conservatives generally get riled up about.
« Last Edit: October 26, 2011, 06:28:11 pm by AquaMan » Logged

onward...through the fog
Conan71
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« Reply #11 on: October 26, 2011, 06:44:53 pm »

If we Tulsan's can't ask and get good answers to the questions raised by a front page story in the World, then maybe we deserve to get fleeced.

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.)

Doesn't anyone else hear a corporate belch and fart here? THis is the kind of stuff fiscal conservatives generally get riled up about.

Corporate belch and fart...LOL!

This is an ideal micro example of what I see is wrong with the federal government in terms of mass corruption, untouchable bureaucrats and officials charged with protecting public interest not even reading the finite details of the documents and bills they sign.
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"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first” -Ronald Reagan
AquaMan
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« Reply #12 on: October 26, 2011, 06:46:50 pm »

for heaven's sake. He said he was awful busy and concedes he should have looked it over....Need a board member who has the time and ability to analytically read? I'LL TAKE THE JOB!!
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onward...through the fog
Conan71
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« Reply #13 on: October 26, 2011, 06:50:33 pm »

for heaven's sake. He said he was awful busy and concedes he should have looked it over....Need a board member who has the time and ability to analytically read? I'LL TAKE THE JOB!!

Clay Bird is the perfect example of a party boy who made the connections like Simonson or Roop and who can seamlessly go from councilor to representative to un-elected official with lots of power.
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"It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned that it bears a striking resemblance to the first” -Ronald Reagan
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« Reply #14 on: October 26, 2011, 07:11:59 pm »

Just sign the contract,then you can see whats in it.  Wink
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