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Ambulance Service Collections 'Gaining Momentum'

DUNLAP, Tenn. -- Collections for the ambulance service in Sequatchie County are mounting and should stabilize in the next few months, officials said Wednesday.

Paul Powell, County Commission vice chairman and chairman of the Budget Committee, said enough money has come in to keep paying the bills until the commission meets in October.

"It's gaining momentum, as far as money coming in," Mr. Powell said. "And we feel like if we watch it close, we won't have to put any more money into it to keep it like it is."

In the last three months, the commission has moved $115,000 from the county general fund to the ambulance service to keep it running, according to the county executive's office.

Officials said the ambulance service's annual budget estimates it should generate about $661,000 a year, or $55,000 a month. But monthly collections were as low as $1,400 in August, officials said.

Former ambulance service director Paul Howard's resignation letter was read at the commission's Sept. 17 meeting. Mr. Howard said he had taken a job with the Sequatchie County Sheriff's Department.

Officials said a person hired to take up billing duties has reduced some of the backlog already.

Mr. Powell said revenues and expenses should balance as payments come in.

"We're hoping within three months' time ... we'll be back up and we'll be stabilized and we'll be putting money in above what it'll take to operate," he said.

Proposals for a privately operated service were distributed Tuesday to the committee for review before next month's meeting, officials said.

Budget committee member Michael Griffith said he hadn't had time to look closely at the proposals, but added that his constituents prefer a county-owned service.

"I would rather try to keep it county -- run so we'll have some say -- so if there is a problem," Mr. Griffith said. Unlike a private service, he said, citizens can take commissioners to task if they don't like the way the service is run.

E-mail Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com

BY THE NUMBERS

-- $1,400: Billing collections in August

-- $55,00: Budgeted monthly billing collections

-- $115,000: Transfer from general fund to ambulance service in three months

Source: Sequatchie County Budget Committee

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