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CRS asks city for $200,000

June 20, 2000|By DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

Community Rescue Service, which provides ambulance service to Hagerstown and the surrounding area, went to the Mayor and City Council on Tuesday asking for help with their financial woes, but the city's elected officials agreed it is a problem for the county government to deal with.

CRS Vice President J. Michael Nye and President Ron Horn asked the Mayor and City Council for $200,000 to offset this year's operating losses. Nye said without the money CRS will have to cut staff, which likely would reduce the level of service.

"I support funding but this is a county problem," Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said, adding that the issue needs to be discussed during the council's next meeting with the Washington County Commissioners.

Metzner pointed out that the city gave CRS the land on Eastern Boulevard where the new CRS facility is. Metzner said the land was worth almost $300,000.

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Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said that since city residents are also county residents and pay county taxes, a portion of any county funding already comes from the city.

Nye said the County Commissioners gave CRS about $44,000 this year.

"I view it as a Washington County problem," Councilman Alfred W. Boyer said.

Nye said, "This has been a county issue for 12 years. We can't wait."

After the meeting Nye said, "It will boil down to an issue of priorities. If we don't get a commitment in the next 45 days we're going to have to make some hard decisions. about the level of service. I believe they can find the money if they want to."

Horn said CRS made a similar presentation and request to the Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association in the fall and "we're still waiting for an answer."

Horn said requests for county money go through the association first.

Nye said CRS responds to about 53 percent of the ambulance calls in Washington County. The response rate for CRS is almost 100 percent now, which Nye said is up from about 85 percent several years ago.

Response rate is a measure of the times CRS was able to respond to ambulance calls when they were the first company called to an emergency. A failed response means another ambulance company had to be called, which typically increases the overall response time.

To achieve the higher level of service, CRS added more paid staff. Although money taken in through private contributions and fees have increased over the years, expenses have increased at a faster pace, according to City Finance Director Al Martin, who reviewed the CRS finances in preparation for the Tuesday meeting.

Nye said the areas with more uninsured or underinsured residents have grown recently, which affects the amount the company recoups from each ambulance run.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein did not attend the Tuesday meeting.

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