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SF subscriber data, ambulance service fees focus of board action

SF subscriber data, ambulance service fees focus of board action

By: Chris Menees Messenger Staff Reporter

The South Fulton City Commission took action Monday evening to try to correct discrepancies with the city’s monthly payment of residents’ ambulance service fees.
South Fulton Mayor Ron Haskins told fellow commission members during their monthly meeting that the city’s computer system is not set up correctly to provide the Twin City Ambulance Service and its board with the needed data regarding the city’s ambulance service subscribers.
He said it will take an estimated $2,160 to correct the computer program.
Haskins said the numbers currently being provided to the ambulance service “don’t add up” and commissioner David Crocker said from the figures he has reviewed, none of them do.
Crocker said the city is providing a service to its residents by placing the ambulance service subscription fee on their utility bills. In South Fulton, the rate is $8 per month for those who subscribe to the ambulance service.
Pete Algee, who represents South Fulton on the ambulance board, said of about 1,700 water meters in South Fulton, it appears only about 800 are paying for ambulance service. He said there has been a problem with knowing who is a member and who is not, with less than 50 percent paying.
Algee added that one list for South Fulton’s ambulance subscribers shows “1,000-something,” while another list shows about 800. He said until the city has a system that shows exactly how many residents are paying for the service, no one will ever know for sure.
Haskins reiterated that the city’s computer is not set up to properly provide the necessary data regarding payment of ambulance service fees and Crocker said there has been some discrepancy in the number of subscribers the ambulance board shows for South Fulton compared to the actual number of subscriptions being paid.
Crocker also questioned who should bear the cost of the $2,160 for changing the city’s computer system, noting that not all of South Fulton’s taxpaying-citizens are subscribers to the ambulance service. Vice Mayor William “R.K.” Kane said he believes if the expense is to correct something in the city’s accounting system, he believes the city should be responsible.
Crocker also expressed concern about at least two occasions in the past year when the City of South Fulton went three months before making a monthly subscription payment to the ambulance board, as well as some fluctuation in check amounts. “They should get payment at least once a month,” he said.
Haskins assured him the city is not keeping any of the subscription money but said it is simply not getting delivered properly due to the city’s “software glitch.” He said he believes the $2,160 to upgrade the computer system should be paid by the city since it is a flaw in its accounting system. Kane concurred, saying if it’s an accounting problem, “it falls on our shoulders.”
Algee also told commissioners he will speak with Fulton city manager Kenney Etherton to see how the City of Fulton’s system is set up.
Kane made the motion to update South Fulton’s computer software system, which should be no more than $2,160, according to information the programmer provided to the city. The action was approved by a vote of 3-1, with Crocker voting against it.
In other action during Monday night’s city commission meeting, which was opened with prayer led by Haskins and with the Pledge of Allegiance, the city commission:
• Voted 4-0 to hire a temporary consultant to advise the city on its natural gas system at a rate of $65 per hour.
Haskins said because of recent developments and negotiations over the city’s natural gas contracts, he feels it will be beneficial for the city to hire the consultant for a few hours per month until the city is free of its contract with the supplier with whom it currently contracts. He said the consultant is a certified public accountant who is certified in natural gas and who has worked with other cities in the area, adding that he will be hired for a maximum of four hours per month and will be helpful in reviewing the city’s past statements.
• Tabled any action on returning collection of the city’s vehicle city sticker fees to the county clerk’s office. Haskins said he has been told the only way the county will resume the service is with “a long-term commitment,” but he is uncertain how long it would need to be.
Kane said he believes it is much easier for residents to pay their city sticker fees when they renew their license plates, but Crocker expressed concern about the city’s having lost money in the past when some residents avoided paying the city sticker fee at the clerk’s office by not being completely honest about their living in the city limits.
• Voted 4-0 to give the new city manager, Jeff Vowell, permission to go out for bids and obtain an estimate for the appraisal of property for a city park. Haskins said the city’s planning and zoning board is willing to draw up plans once a committee meets, but there needs to be an appraisal of the property in order to seek grant funding.
• Approved a motion to have Vowell attend the National Flood Insurance Program’s community officials training next month in Nashville. “We do have some flood property,” Haskins said.
Vowell is slated to begin work Thursday as South Fulton’s new city manager. He was in attendance in the audience at Monday night’s meeting.
Commissioner Dr. Charles Moody was absent from the session due to a death in his family.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by e-mail at cmenees@ucmessenger.com.
Published in The Messenger 12.18.07

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