2008-11-08 / News

Trustees upset with Hebron over EMS billing info

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON - Union Township resident Paul Meyers said at Monday night's Union Township Trustees meeting that he wouldn't vote for Union Township's 1.5 mills five year replacement fire levy until he knew how much of the department's EMS billing revenue is generated in Union Township. "I think we need to know how much is coming to us," he said.

The levy passed 1,294 votes to 656 against.

Trustee Jack Justice was clear he is still unhappy with what he sees as the Hebron Fire Department's unwillingness to tell the trustees how much of the revenue is generated from Union Township squad runs. "I feel like someone is stonewalling us there," he said. "We need to get it stopped."

Trustee President John Slater said previously that the township doesn't expect a slice of the EMS billing revenue, but the trustees want to have "some idea" of how much money is generated in the township if there is a budget crunch and the township needs to fall back on that revenue. He said the township was promised the information when Hebron first adopted EMS billing, but the fire department has yet to deliver.

Justice said if he doesn't receive the requested information soon, he'd turn the matter over to the Licking County prosecutor.

EMS billing programs are designed to collect reimbursement from private insurance companies, Medicare, and Medicaid. However, federal regulations may require Hebron to collect the deductible or co-pay portion of the EMS transport fee from non-residents. Hebron and township residents living in the Hebron contract area should not receive bills if they aren't covered by insurance. Others will be billed, such as Buckeye Lake Village resident, if they do not have insurance coverage. However, unpaid accounts will not be turned over for collection.

Hebron Fiscal Officer Carie Kraner said previously the village began collecting EMS billing in July 2007, when the village did not have a fiscal officer. The village hired a MED3000, a Pittsburgh based medical administration company, to manage the EMS billing. The money is deposited in a Park National Bank account, where the Hebron Village Council wanted it held for a year to determine roughly how much money is collected annually.

"We don't know what percentage is attributed to runs made in the township versus the village," said Justice Monday night. "That's what we were promised from the beginning."

Speaking of the Hebron Fire Department, Justice said no one from the department "lifted a finger" to promote the Nov. 4township fire levy. "I'm more than a little disappointed," he said. Justice said this is the first time he's known the department not to take an active role in campaigning for a levy.

Slater said representatives from the Cincinnati based Kramer & Associates, Hebron Fire Chief Randy Weekly, and Granville Fire Chief Jeff Hussey will attend the Nov. 17 trustees meeting to discuss Union Township fire protection options.

Kramer & Associates, a fire service consulting firm, was hired early this year after the trustees learned that the Granville Township Fire Department would charge Union Township $50,000 per year to provide fire and EMS service for the area of the township north of the CSX railway. The Hebron and Buckeye Lake fire departments serve the rest of the township. Until this year, the township's most expensive contract with the Granville Fire Department was $18,000. In previous years, the contract was only $14,000.

This year, the trustees paid Kramer & Associates about $14,000 to research alternatives. Previously, Slater said he wasn't interested in an independent Union Township Fire Department because it would be an impractical duplication of Hebron's services. The trustees have considered, however, creating a satellite fire station on 13 acres of property near the intersection of Blacks Road and Ohio 37. Eventually, trustees hope to build the satellite station, a new township hall, and storage facilities on the property. But, the trustees need to determine if a satellite station will improve response time enough to warrant the expense.

Slater said a fire truck parked on Ohio 37 at U.S. 40 promoting the township fire levy is owned by a person from Pennsylvania who was looking for work at Slater's farm. He agreed to let the township use his truck as an "eye catcher," with the condition that the truck also promote a presidential candidate.

Meyers asked if it were legal for the vehicle, which the township is technically using, to promote a presidential candidate. Slater admitted that the trustees really hadn't thought about it.

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