County: More info before more OL funds

Friday, May 5, 2017

A simple question during “unfinished business” turned into the most extensive conversation of the recent meeting of the Putnam County Commissioners.

Having discussed funding issues for Putnam County Operation during their April 3 meeting, the commissioners had not revisited the issue.

Commissioner Rick Woodall, who serves on the OL board, asked if a decision had been made regarding the source of $202,000 OL Executive Director E.J. Claflin requested back in early April.

Sources discussed in April included the Economic Development Income Tax War Chest, the Hazardous Materials Fund and the Public Safety Local Option Income Tax.

Determining the funding source depends on the availability of funds in each of the three sources.

The $202,000 requested in April includes $137,000 to fund an additional crew and return OL to three ambulances full-time. The other $65,000 is to get another ambulance operational again.

After an OL vehicle collided with a Putnam County Sheriff’s Department SUV in November, insurance paid $83,000, and the $65,000 will go toward fully replacing the ambulance.

This is in addition to the $80,000 in annual funding OL receives from the Hazardous Waste Fund.

The commissioners expressed on Monday that they have other questions before approval.

Woodall said that at the most recent OL board meeting, he told administrators they need a solid plan for what kind of funding the ambulance service needs moving forward. With STAR Ambulance recently opening a Greencastle station, the commissioner believes there will be competition for the county 911 contract in 2018.

“I’m certain — now that there’s another ambulance service here in town — that they will bid on it,” Woodall said.

Fellow commissioner David Berry has questions about right now, not next year.

“I’d like definitive numbers on how severely understaffed they are,” Berry said, “and how much better this will help them serve the county.”

At this point, other county officials at the meeting interjected some thoughts as well.

STAR moved into the Greencastle market when OL stopped regularly doing transports for Putnam County Hospital, a fact noted by County Councilman Larry Parker.

“I don’t understand,” Parker said, “if you do less, why you need more money?”

Sheriff Scott Stockton noted that the Putnam County Jail is now working with STAR rather than Operation Life for transports of sick or injured inmates.

Stockton noted that on average, the county was paying $480.96 per transfer to OL after Medicare and Medicaid reductions.

STAR is transported the inmates for $217 before Medicare or Medicaid.

With no OL representative at the meeting, the conversation became one-sided, but that should not be the case during the Monday, May 15 meeting, when Claflin will be present and the commissioners plan to make a decision.

The meeting is slated for 9 a.m. on the first floor of the Putnam County Courthouse.

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  • Do what is best for the county, not what OL wants. I thought they were supposed to be self supporting by now. Get local people to do local work and treat them fairly.

    -- Posted by Rainbow6 on Sat, May 6, 2017, at 10:21 AM
  • With all do respect. Operation Life DID in fact have representation at this meeting; Mr. Rick Woodall sits on the Board Of Directors for Operation Life. Mr. Claflin as the Director of the service "works" for the Board Of Directors. Any financial decisions exceeding $500 dollars (if it is as it was in the past) needs approval by the OL-BOD. That being said, WHY wasn't Mr. Woodall able to answer questions on behalf of Operation Life?

    Operation Life willing gave up TRANSFERS from Putnam County Hospital, willingly gave up local convolecent transports (nursing home to facility) AND NOW gave up inmate transports from the jail? What service EXACTLY is Operation Life providing? Each of these services that was willingly given to STAR ambulance was generating income for the now financially troubled Operation Life organization.

    Knowledge is power.

    The residents of this County need to know how funds have been used. How their tax dollars are being used?

    Sadly very few currently employed at PCOL even reside in this county ... so they don't care about the residents or where the money comes from. Let STAR take the extra 9-1-1 calls and leave the $200K alone. STAR is already here to do what PCOL has REFUSED to do. Transfers and convalescent transports, (UNLESS you happen to be a family member of the Board of Directors) justify that Mr. Claflin, County officials, Board of Directors. WHY IS YOUR FAMILY MORE IMPORTANT THAN MINE?

    A very real, quick way to save money, give up the money pit take home vehicle of the Director that is used to get him (approximately 2 hours round trip) to and from work. County gas, insurance and vehicle. What a nice perk! Yet he refuses to take an emergency run when no ambulance is available?? I want answers. I want to see the budget. I want to see what money has been wasted in ridiculous things like cameras and audio Surveillance in the ambulances. The monitors that give real time speeds and breaking of the ambulances.

    Possibly more attention should be placed on patient care (providing care to Putnam County residents) than "monitoring" your employees. Hire people you have confidence in. Hire local people that care about our county residents and stop bringing in people from the city. This is rural EMS. Shame on the Board of Directors and the County officials for considering, entertaining the idea of additional funds to be distributed. Before that much money is "gifted" GIVE ANSWERS!

    Make the administrative employees use their EMS skills. Or abolish that they maintain or obtain their certifications. Hire someone with an MBA in business to turn the business around. Why does the organization need THREE ADMINISTRATORS for TWO trucks (FOUR providers), one of them being a lead! That is FOUR bosses for THREE workers. See a problem? I certainly do.

    -- Posted by Everyone has a story on Sat, May 6, 2017, at 12:02 PM
  • Seems like Star knows how to run a business. I would think transfers would be your bread and butter. It's funny how things change when competition comes to town. To the commissioner Please do not credit a new tax to pay for services that do not know how to manage themselves.

    -- Posted by landstarrang on Sat, May 6, 2017, at 1:13 PM
  • Is it true that the O.L. director also has a Mike's car wash membership???

    -- Posted by Rainbow6 on Sat, May 6, 2017, at 3:49 PM
  • Wow!!! These are things I've called in the past. This Eric or "E.J." Claflin is a character. No local businesses can work with him, he's went around making every other agency mad, he's refused free business in transfers, which is revenue and now he's begging for money. All the good ole' feelings and employees are mostly gone, so again, people he's hired don't care about this County. They're here as his friends and too try and look pretty. Let STAR have the extra calls until they can bid and win the contest in 2018. It's a joy and comfort to watch them drive by the house. They look preofessional. Oh, and I have their direct number. Therefore, I will call them direct instead of OL. Everyonehsastory said it best. Hit it on the head and confirmed what I've said over time. This director was a real piece when we met. Trashed my family members who were commissioners, at the time and assured me that he didn't need the counties help. Move OL out, as he's run it in the ground. Move STAR in. Yep, two take home vehicles. He's milking it fry. "What can this organization do for me?" It's not about providing service to this county, it's about saving his cake job. It's time to cut losses and move on. I'd sure love to help him carry out his things. Ask lots of questions, commissioners and five deep into finances. Look at itemized expenses not just generic reports. The lay director used to brag how he could spend on credit cards and the. Pats didn't get an itemized report. Shady. It's sad and terrible. Considering showing up at the May 15 meeting and voicing my concern. However, it is "our" money as county residents...

    -- Posted by BrutallyHonest on Sun, May 7, 2017, at 11:01 PM
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