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CRS to seek more money

November 01, 1999|By KIMBERLY YAKOWSKI

Community Rescue Service officers are to go before a Washington County Fire & Rescue Association steering committee today to ask for more money.

CRS President Ron Horn said CRS is breaking even but has no cash reserve in case of emergencies or for equipment purchases.

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He blamed CRS' financial situation on a loss of some of the territory it formerly covered and on those who use the service but do not pay for it.

The company estimates its uncollected billings amount to $50,000 a month or $600,000 annually. A decline in volunteers and fewer donations also has hurt CRS financially, he said.

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Horn said the company may ask for as much as $200,000 during the 7 p.m. meeting at the Washington County Fire & Rescue Association offices.

Sections of Virginia Avenue, Sharpsburg Pike and Hagerstown previously covered by CRS were moved into other rescue companies' territories, decreasing the company's potential for revenue from donations and billings, he said.

CRS' Chief Operating Officer Chris Amos called the company's situation a "financial crisis."

"We are literally living from paycheck to paycheck," he said.

The company took in about $89,000 in September and paid out $135,000, he said. Most months, revenue and expenses are roughly even at $90,000, said Amos.

Horn disputed Amos' figures for September, saying he believes the company broke even.

"The company's weekly operation exceeds the amount of revenue available," said Amos in a Sept. 22 letter to Washington County Fire & Rescue Association President Jay Grimes.

Grimes said CRS will be asked to justify its request for money.

"If just cause is shown, we'll do what we can. That's what we're here for," said Grimes.

Amos said he anticipates the 1999-2000 payroll will exceed the budgeted amount by about $200,000.

The company's 1999-2000 budget shows it started the fiscal year with $75,000 less than anticipated from its subscription drive.

Revenue was projected at $1.56 million while operating expenses were estimated at $1.48 million. The $75,000 subscription drive shortfall leaves the company with a cushion of about $6,000.

The company is $1.6 million in debt from construction of a new $1.4 million headquarters building on Eastern Boulevard and $400,000 spent to replace four aging ambulances, Amos said. Two of the ambulances were purchased outright and two were financed, he said.

CRS handles about 7,000 emergency calls annually, half of all the calls in Washington County.

The company runs ambulance calls in Hagerstown and other areas including Chewsville, Mount Aetna, Fountainhead, Funkstown, Cearfoss, Maugansville, Long Meadow, Black Rock and Leitersburg.

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