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County gives CRS $20,000

March 20, 2001

County gives CRS $20,000



By DAN KULIN

dank@herald-mail.com

The Washington County Commissioners voted Tuesday to match the City of Hagerstown's $20,000 contribution to Community Rescue Service, and to create a joint city-county committee to look for long-term solutions to the financial troubles of the ambulance company.

The commissioners voted 4-0 to give CRS $20,000.

Commissioner John L. Schnebly abstained from the vote. Schnebly said the company he works for wrote a group health insurance plan for CRS.

The county contribution is on top of the roughly $60,000 CRS already received from the county this year.

Last week, the City Council approved a $20,000 contribution to CRS.

During the joint city-county meeting Tuesday, Commissioner Bert L. Iseminger asked CRS interim Director J. Michael Nye if $40,000 is enough to make a difference.

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CRS had asked the city for $400,000, which included $200,000 to cover annual operating expenses and $200,000 for a fund to pay for new ambulances and other equipment.

Nye said there may be grants available to pay for new equipment.

He said with the $40,000 "we expect to be OK" until the end of CRS' fiscal year, which is June 30.

If the $40,000 is combined with some other contributions the City Council has discussed, then the total impact on CRS' budget is $200,000, Nye said.

Council members have asked City Finance Director Al Martin to look into refinancing CRS loans to eliminate interest charges, which Nye said could save CRS $120,000 a year, and to review possibly waiving city utility bills.

Councilwoman Susan Saum-Wicklein suggested having the city and county guarantee a line of credit so CRS officials wouldn't have to wait until they were paid for services to pay their own bills.

She said the city should look into buying CRS' headquarters building and leasing the building back to the ambulance company as a way to eliminate interest payments.

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

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