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CRS, lender at odds

April 11, 2002|BY DAN KULIN /Staff Writer

dank@herald-mail.com

Hagerstown Trust has filed a judgment of more than $1.3 million against Community Rescue Service in Washington County Circuit Court, seeking repayment of a 1997 loan to the private ambulance company based in Hagerstown.

But CRS Executive Director J. Michael Nye said Wednesday that CRS and the bank worked out a compromise that keeps CRS from having to repay the full amount immediately.

Soon after the judgment was filed, CRS paid the bank about $100,000, and is now current on monthly loan payments, Nye said.

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"As far as we're concerned, the issue is resolved," Nye said.

Hagerstown Trust Executive Vice President Thomas Myers refused to comment on the matter. He said bank officials would not comment, "because of the confidentiality of a customer's relationship with the bank."

According to court records, Hagerstown Trust filed a judgment against CRS on March 28, seeking $1,345,361.63. That amount includes money still owed on the loan, interest and other charges, plus attorney's fees.

As of Wednesday afternoon, nothing in the court file indicated the matter had been resolved.

Nye said the judgment prevented CRS from selling property on Conrad Court without the involvement of the bank.

"We were late on one (monthly loan) payment. But they did it more to protect their asset," Nye said, referring to the loan.

CRS sold the property, which is near CRS headquarters on Eastern Boulevard, for about $270,000, Nye said.

About $100,000 went to the bank for payment on the debt plus some fees and penalties. CRS spent another $150,000 for partial payment for a rescue vehicle from Smithsburg Emergency Medical Services, the private ambulance company serving the Smithsburg area, Nye said. The vehicle's total cost is $200,000.

CRS is a private nonprofit ambulance company that serves about 35,000 homes and businesses in and around Hagerstown.

Complaining of a tight budget, CRS laid off five ambulance staffers in January.

The Hagerstown and Washington County governments each gave CRS $50,000 during the current fiscal year. The $50,000 county grant was in addition to money CRS received as part of the annual disbursement of funds to county fire and rescue companies.

Recently released CRS budget projections show that CRS will run a cash surplus of $150,431 this fiscal year, which ends June 30, and $300,953 in the next fiscal year, assuming the city and county continue providing the grants. That roughly $450,000 would be used to replace old equipment, such as ambulances, in future years, Nye has said.

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