Rescue squad to see changes

Published 8:15 am Thursday, March 31, 2022

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Overspending for the past five to seven years is what county officials say has put the Charlotte County Rescue Squad (CCRS) in a financial bind.

So much, in fact, that the board of supervisors (BOS) has had to appropriate over $100,000 in just two months.

In February, $50,000 was approved, with another $60,000 approved in March.

The rescue squad’s lack of funds first came to light during the Feb. 14 BOS meeting when CCRS Captain Bill Mayhew addressed the board asking for $50,000 to $80,000 in additional funding.

Mayhew said that waiting on payments from Medicare and Medicaid and inflation has put the squad in a bind.

According to documents from CCRS provided to the BOS, the squad’s 2021 operating budget was listed at $963,900.00 with over $1 million in expenses. Included in their budget was over $200,000 in a PPP Loan.

Documents show the squad in the red for over $200,000.

In addition, Mayhew said to run three crews a day, five days a week and two crews on the weekend; CCRS spends $12,600 a week on salaries, with members working anywhere from 48 to 60 hours a week.

County officials said currently there are 14 paid staff members and six volunteers; however, four of the six received stipends when they responded to a call.

In addition to operating expenses, according to county officials, CCRS has debts to Citizens’ Bank for $65,117.95, BB&T for $101,522.83, Stryker Flex Financial 5 for $27,181.36, and Cornerstone Adminisystems in the amount of $26,000.

The request for extra funding during the February meeting did not sit well with Supervisor Butch Hamlett, who said he felt there was no oversight on how much spending was taking place nor how many hours employees were working.

“So, y’all been spending more than you really have?” Hamlett questioned. “I just have a whole lot of questions about your budget sheet. To me, there is no oversight.” Hamlett said during the February meeting.

Since that meeting, several CCRS members have resigned, including Mayhew and CCRS President Phillip Staten.

“Mr. Mayhew was asked to resign,” said County Administrator Dan Witt. “Some who are leaving did so because of the decision to cut back on overtime hours.”

During a Monday, Mar. 28 interview Witt said he and the BOS Public Safety Committee comprised of Supervisors Walt Bailey and Vice-Chairman Will Garnett had been meeting with CCRS members/employees to work on the leadership issues and also met with the squad’s attorney to seek guidance with the Articles of Incorporation and updating the bylaws.

Currently, CCRS’s bylaws stipulate that only active volunteer members are eligible to hold officer positions, which are leadership positions. “The issue is the President and Captain have both resigned,” Witt said.

According to Witt, the committee is working to have a new board appointed for the rescue squad and an executive committee to provide oversight.

“The squad will be run like a business,” Witt said. “We are working to improve third-party billing to increase the rate of return from insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid. We will also be advertising to hire and increase the squad numbers and will be implementing a capital improvement program for maintenance and replacement of equipment and vehicles.”