Reese loses bid to have funds restored

County group continues to shut out fire company over ambulance billing

September 13, 2000|By Ellie Baublitz | Ellie Baublitz,SUN STAFF

The Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association has rejected a request to restore funding to the Reese fire company - money withheld since July 1 because the department refuses to fully charge for ambulance services.

Rick Schinzel, chairman of the board of the Reese & Community Volunteer Fire Company, asked the association to rescind its decision to withhold his department's $12,500 quarterly allotment for emergency medical services.

"We respect each individual member's right to bill and charge what they feel is necessary," Schinzel said. "All we're asking is the same respect and to be allowed to bill what we feel we need."

The association refused to consider the request at Monday night's meeting at the Fire Training Center in Westminster.

The association, which represents Carroll's 14 volunteer fire companies, began billing for ambulance services two years ago. Reese initially balked at billing but recently began charging $5 for services. The association wants Reese to charge the minimum $200.

Although funding for emergency medical services comes from the county commissioners, the association distributes the money to the fire companies. The commissioners have refused to get involved in the dispute, insisting that the association and Reese settle it.

Some association members want the matter settled, saying it has gone on long enough. Others said to let lawyers take care of it.

A letter from Roger Powell, Reese's attorney, was distributed at Monday's meeting. Powell says there is nothing in the association's constitution or bylaws allowing for the withholding of funds related to ambulance billing.

Schinzel said Powell is expected to ask for an injunction against the association to release the withheld funds.

If a court decision would go against Reese, then "we would certainly be in compliance with any judicial ruling," Schinzel said.

Association President John Korman reminded the group that, "all of the companies were against billing, but we went along with it because the county told us to. The commissioners gave us a choice - either we bill or they bill for us."

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