My Reply to Eugene Curtin’s Article
On June 24, 2014, Eugene Curtin wrote an article titled “City Falling Short on Ambulance Fee Collections”. This is on my website. I want to elaborate on his article. I have been asking for months about the $540,000 that the Fire Chief wanted to city to collect by hiring a collection agency. Finally the Fire Chief said they collected around 2%. That would mean at the maximum $10,800. I want to know the exact amount collected after the collection agency takes their cut. You would think the finance director, Rich Severson, would have this figure at his fingertips.
Only a few weeks earlier, the city administrator acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about and wanted me to show documentation. That’s when Mr. Severson chimed in and said- prove it. The next meeting when I was proving my point, I was stopped short because they wouldn’t allow me more time.
He writes that the $540,000 is mired in dispute, but that’s not true. The Fire Chief admitted to collecting at the maximum $10,800 out of the $540,000. We tax payers lost at least $529,200 due to letting the fire department do the billing. Mayor Sanders signed a contract with the collection agency and never spoke up.
Mr. Curtin also said that I was a partisan of Cash Flow Billing. That is true and I am also a friend of Pat Shannon. Pat Shannon collected over $70,000 a month and collected over $1 million given to the city. This was not the fire department money. This is taxpayers’ money too. We should be thanking Cash Flow Billing for doing a supreme job. One of the biggest and costliest mistakes is taking the billing away from Cash Flow. That was like killing the goose that was laying golden eggs. We lost millions with this mistake.
Last but not least, Mr. Curtin never asked about what the fire department did with the money they collected. I want to know how much money they collected from the very beginning, the process of where it went when it was first collected, and how it was spent. There is no transparency to the Finance Department. It’s time for an internal auditor to check on the Finance Department. They won’t do a monthly balance sheet.
I have spoken over 130 times since I got the council to put on the agenda May of 2008 the Public Request to be Heard. The city has violated their rules because they have allowed a city council person to speak, the Fire Chief, and the finance director Rich Severson twice after I have spoken. I have followed their rules, but they have not. If this happens again, I should have to the right to respond to their comments. Let’s be fair about this.