Finances improved for the Manawa Ambulance Service, according to information presented at the Feb. 17 meeting of the Manawa Fire & Ambulance Board.
“We are on the right track at this point,” said Board President Mary Eck.
“We are in the black instead of in the red,” said Ambulance Director Andy Werth.
Eck credited the turnaround of the ambulance budget to the new board.
Board members expressed concern that there were rumors about a “cover up” concerning what the board faced a few years ago.
They said the new fire board requested an audit, which was done by the city’s accounting firm and then turned over to the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department and the Wisconsin Department of Justice.
In an effort to combat rumors, board member John Smith released the following statement:
“Upon completion of an investigatory audit, it was determined by the Shawano County Sheriff’s Department and the Wisconsin Department of Justice that the audit was inconclusive due to two years of incomplete/missing financial records.
“As a result, no criminal charges were pursued as it was recommended the fire board credit the inconclusive audit to poor recordkeeping.
“Therefore, the new fire board has passed a policy that annually, as well as anytime a clerk change is made, they will do a full audit.
“Previously, the financial records were not shared or reviewed on a monthly basis by the fire board by the ambulance director, even after repeated requests from members of the old fire board to have them for review at the monthly meetings.
“Subsequently, upon changes to the fire board and the hiring of a new ambulance director, in 12 months the ambulance service went from needing to borrow $30,000 from the fire department to having a current budget windfall of about $38,000, which is a $70,000 budget difference.”
A financing option for the new truck was approved by the Manawa Fire Board at its Feb. 17 meeting.
The board approved financing a $350,000 seven-year loan contintingent on a nonprofit rate of 2.40 percent with First State Bank.
Fire department calls are up this year, according to Fire Chief Rob Rosenau.
He reported that the Manawa Rural Fire Department responded to 29 calls since its fiscal year began on Nov. 1, 2014. Rosenau noted this number was not achieved last year until May 18.
The board discussed fire call billing, but more information is needed.
According to Rosenau, only two of the last four calls could have been billed. One call was canceled before they arrived at the scene and the other call was mutual aid, which cannot be billed.
“Every call costs us money and somebody should be paying for this,” said Smith, alternate for the city of Manawa.
Board members asked if resolutions would be needed from the membership municipalities before MRFD began billing for fire calls.
These resolutions are already in place, according to Jackie Beyer, former board secretary and current town of Little Wolf representative. She said each municipality approved resolutions in 2011, when the board agreed to bill for fire calls.
At that time, some monies were collected, but the practice was eventually abandoned by the previous fire chief.
The board’s contract with LifeQuest includes having the company bill for both ambulance and fire services. Currently, Manawa only bills for ambulance calls.
The board will discuss this issue at its next meeting, when more information is available.