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CRS cuts $200,000 from request

January 15, 2001

CRS cuts $200,000 from request



By DAN KULIN / Staff Writer


Community Rescue Service is cutting $200,000 from its request to the City of Hagerstown, CRS interim-Director J. Michael Nye said Monday.

Nye, on behalf of CRS, had asked the city for a $600,000 one-time payment this year plus $400,000 annually in future years.

Now, Nye said CRS is instead seeking $400,000 this year. The request for $400,000 annually in subsequent years has not changed.

The initial $600,000 request included $200,000 to cover shortfalls in the fiscal year that ended in June 2000, plus $400,000 for this fiscal year.

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Nye said the request for $200,000 for the previous fiscal year has been dropped, "because we weren't going to get it."

Also, CRS came up with about $200,000 by selling in May the former CRS headquarters building for about $100,000; by drawing on $30,000 to $50,000 in reserve funds, and through some cost savings, Nye said.

Nye said all that money was used to fund CRS operations.

"We were very lucky to sell a building. Had we not done that ... we would have had to scale back," Nye said.

CRS owns a building on Virginia Avenue and land on Conrad Court, and Nye said the organization is trying to sell both.

Hagerstown City Councilman J. Wallace McClure has said that before receiving a city subsidy, CRS should sell those assets.

Nye said selling assets to cover operating deficits would only delay dealing with the underlying financial problems at CRS.

Nye and other CRS officials say the financial troubles are caused by an increasing number of emergency calls from under-insured and uninsured people in Hagerstown.

From the requested $400,000 annual city subsidy, $200,000 would be set aside for future equipment purchases, and $200,000 would go to operating expenses. Nye said that if it gets no city funding this year, CRS probably will have an operating deficit of about $157,000.

CRS has an annual operating budget of about $2 million, which is supported by income from bills for services, a private fund-raising campaign, $44,000 from the Washington County Commissioners and $42,000 from the County Gaming Commission.

For the next two years CRS also will receive an additional $15,000 from the county to offset lost revenue from territory that has been transferred to the Smithsburg ambulance company.

CRS is a private nonprofit ambulance company serving about 34,000 homes in Hagerstown and parts of the surrounding area.

Nye said if the City Council does not pledge funding soon CRS operations will have to be scaled back.

"Sometime around the end of January or beginning of February we'll have to make some hard business decisions," Nye said.

In response to CRS' request, the City Council asked for financial and operational information, which is expected to be available by the end of the month. The council has instructed city staff to find ways to offset some CRS expenses.

"We said that we would help. We're just waiting for the answers," McClure said.

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