June 29, 2016

Ambulance board gives budget in-depth discussion

By Daniel Arens

Over the course of the last year, the Mercer County Ambulance Board has attempted to smooth over changes in various parts of the service since the resignation of the former manager. Now, they face another test: Drafting a viable budget for the upcoming fiscal year.
The process of creating the budget has been a team effort, with bookkeeper Marcia Steffen collaborating with Marcy Sailer and Codi Soland, who have been acting as co-managers for the service over the past year, as well as board member Darold Bertsch, who has worked with Steffen on preparing financial statements.
During a board meeting June 27, these four service members presented the entire board with a preliminary draft of the budget, to be finalized at a meeting in July. Not every entry has been filled yet, as some questions remain on certain items.
Wages and salaries have been budgeted with a 3 percent raise included. Metro Billing, which is helping the service put together accurate and concise reports for the previous several years, will increase its costs by $1 per run, so the budget includes an additional $1,000 for that line item.
The board asked about the line item “Contracted Services,” which Steffen explained is only for a single service.
Another line item has been added for the Riverdale Ambulance Service, although it has not yet been filled in for the upcoming budget. The board agreed that budgeting $10,000 for this item would be adequate based on previous years’ payments to the other service.
In the proposed budget, $55,000 had been budgeted for “Vehicles and Equipment.” However, the ambulance service is already looking at large expenses in the upcoming months to deal with issues for various rigs. Further, fuel costs are included in this line item, as well as routine checks on the ambulances. The board members agreed to increase this line item to $75,000.
The service is looking at the rotation of computer use and the purchase of new computers.
Board President Rhonda Pfenning asked Steffen to explain what items are included in the “Other” category. Steffen said that this line item includes miscellaneous expenses that don’t fit well elsewhere, including reconciling differences from double-booking and books that are not actually part of the service’s education programs.
Final decisions on what the budget will contain will have to be made at the next board meeting at the end of July, and Pfenning encouraged board members to addresses any ideas or concerns about the budget to Steffen before that time.
The board noted that, although there remains more discussion to come, they felt the initial drafting of the budget appeared to go much smoother than in previous years and that the layout was easier to comprehend.

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