Bethel Selex Still Not Happy With Info from Ambulance

Front Page / Jan. 15, 2004 12:00am EST

Bethel Selex Still Not Happy With Info from Ambulance

The Bethel Selectboard is sending a letter to the White River Valley Ambulance Service requesting a more forthcoming approach for releasing budget information, and a different methodology for determining future budget requests.

The letter will be sent through Jon Hodgdon, Bethel’s representative on the ambulance service board.

The ambulance service’s budget has been the subject of controversy in Bethel since Bethel’s contribution has risen 124% from 1999 (when it was $26,621) to $59,522 (this year’s request), and because of the perception that the service has been reticent in releasing its detailed expenditure and income data.

In December, the selectboard asked the ambulance service for a complete balance sheet and income statement for the previous year, rather than merely projected budget amounts. By last Monday’s meeting, the board had received the service’s financial statements for 2001 and 2002. The 2003 figures went only through Oct. 31, 2003.

The selectboard decided to print the projected budget amounts for 2004 and for past years in the town meeting warning, and leave it up to the voters whether to propose changes or amendments to Bethel’s contribution to this year’s ambulance budget request.

Selectboard chair Neal Fox said he was not pleased with the situation. The letter to Hodgdon will reflect the selectmen’s concerns and emphasize four points:

• The current system of comparing each year’s proposed budget with the budget proposals for previous years is inadequate; and the town requires information regarding actual income and expenditures.

• The system by which the ambulance service increases each year’s budget by a certain percentage over the previous year’s budget is no longer acceptable; in Fox’s words "the budget should accurately reflect how much we can get by with, not how much we can get."

• The budget data that has been released in the past has contained no reference to income from grants, or how such income has been spent.

• The selectboard expects to receive a detailed income and expense statement automatically every year without having to ask the ambulance board for it each time.

The letter will also ask Hodgdon to emphasize to the ambulance service board that more specific requests for information will follow.

By Chris Costanzo

Return to top