We don’t need to raise taxes to bail out the Cambria Community Healthcare District. Yet in her Jan. 24 Viewpoint (“Parcel fee the right choice to boost Cambria health district revenues”), Kristi Jenkins proposes a tax increase to generate some $174,000 annually. We wonder what has changed to make this former president of the CCHD Board of Trustees do such an about face in just over six months? There have been no catastrophes from July 2017 to January 2018 that we’re aware of and although she erroneously used 2006 dollars in her calculations, her basic message is clear: Raise our taxes.
In their July 12, 2017 Viewpoint to The Cambrian, Jenkins and Mary Anne Meyer said that we (Bill Rice and Iggy Fedoroff) “may have generated unfounded concerns and fears in many residents” by writing a Viewpoint about our healthcare district’s deficit spending. They went on to say, “Not this time gentlemen, not this time.”
They continued: “We would like to reassure the residents of the district that the sky is not falling, as some may suggest. CCHD revenues for fiscal year 2017-18 are projected to be $1,800,636, and projected expenses are $1,800,291. The prepared and approved 2017-18 budget is financially sound, allowing the district to continue providing ambulance service to the residents of the district.”
However, because we believed the approved budget would result in another deficit like the past five years, on Sept. 5, we (Bill Rice, Iggy Fedoroff and Laurie Mileur) proposed seven specific things the district could do to pare costs by about $130,000 annually, including dropping an expensive billing service in favor of software managed in house as is done by the Cloverdale Health District with about the same number of monthly ambulance transports as the CCHD; reverting to the previous practice of having the operations manager work as a full time paramedic rather than devote 20 hours a week to administrative tasks; retiring the 1999 Ford Expedition which has been used as a commuting vehicle by the operations manager; dropping the outside accountant to “balance the checkbook” monthly; reducing overtime where possible; stopping the trustees’ monthly stipend and only if absolutely necessary, reducing part-time administrative staff.
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None of these suggestions has been implemented although, through necessity, in December the operations manager worked mostly as a paramedic due to staffing shortages, with reported cost savings in excess of $20,000. Instead, the district is considering reducing staffing of an ambulance at night when there are fewer calls. This proposal is what they have hired an outside consultant to evaluate, to see whether it is safe for our community.
There are many ways to reduce expenses and not adversely impact paramedic/EMT coverage to the citizens of Cambria, San Simeon and the Rural Areas as well as our visitors. We don’t need a tax increase at this time. What we need is spending control, including administrative belt-tightening. Ms. Jenkins was wrong in July when she saw no budget problems and she’s wrong now agreeing with Trustee Bob Putney when he said at the Jan. 17 Board of Trustees meeting: “I agree with Darryl Scheck (Service Employees International Union Local Representative), we don't have a spending problem, we have a revenue problem.”
We respectfully disagree.
Bill Rice is the former chief financial officer of Community Health Group; Iggy Fedoroff is the former sector vice president of contracts and regional marketing, BAE SYSTEMS Aircraft Controls; and Dr. Laurie Mileur is the former manager of the Center for Pediatric Nutrition Research at the University of Utah.