By Jeremy D. Wells
Carter County Times
It hasn’t been an easy or a quick journey, but the Carter County emergency ambulance service is continuing their long slog toward financial security.
“We have now reached another fiscal year without having to reach out to local banks for funds to cover payroll or operational costs,” executive director Rick Loperfido told the ambulance board during his report at their regular meeting on Monday. It wasn’t a boast the service could have made a couple of years ago.
And while the service did still take out some loans for equipment purchases, they’ve also made plans to build the cost of those purchases into their budget over the next seven years.
“We borrowed funds to make capital purchases, which were needed to keep our ambulances up to date with the latest medical equipment,” Loperfido explained.
He also expects the service to incur more vehicle costs as they either continue to make repairs to, or look at replacing, several vehicles as well. Loperfido gave updates on repairs and maintenance to four of their vehicles, noting that age has led to reoccurring issues with some of the vehicles.
The service’s fiscal year 2023-2024 budget sets aside $45,000 for vehicle repairs and maintenance over the coming year.
There are other changes, however, that should help cut spending. For instance, Loperfido reported that the service is beginning to see their staffing levels return to normal. He said they are currently only down one full time paramedic, and are at full staffing for full-time EMTs. They are also working on “building up” their part-time staffing levels, Loperfido said, which should help curb their overtime costs.
During her financial report Valerie Nolan noted that payroll for the month of June was $46,581.96 over budget – coming in at a total of $250,780.03, however that was due in part to the fact the service had five payroll weeks in the month, instead of the typical four. Unscheduled overtime was up over the previous month, but as Loperfido and Nolan both noted, those numbers should come down with the increased staffing.
Expenses for the month were also up, at $27,365.13 over the amount budgeted for the month. But income was up even more, at $34,608.91 more than the budgeted income for the month, and $33,735.80 more than the same month in the previous year.
After approving both Loperfido’s and Nolan’s reports, the board moved to approve the budget for the upcoming fiscal year on second reading.
That budget sets total expenses, and expected income, for the fiscal year at $3,619,155.12, though those numbers are subject to change.
“The budget is just a goal that we shoot for,” Loperfido said.
But if income and expense trends continue as they expect, Nolan explained – noting the budget is based on past data and known costs – the budget should be sufficient to meet their needs.
Nolan also reminded the board that they will need to approve their tax rate in the coming month, once they received notice from the state of the rate options. Loperfido said it was likely they would need to advertise and hold a public hearing prior to approving the tax rate, and that if possible they would like to do that before the next regular meeting of the ambulance board.
The next regular meeting of the ambulance board is at 3 p.m. on Monday, August 21, at the EMS station in Grayson.
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