The Carroll County Firemen's Association will continue to withhold Emergency Medical Services funding to Reese & Community Volunteer Fire Department while the county checks the legalities of the sanction.
The firefighters have been wrangling with ambulance billing for almost three years. In May 1998, at the insistence of the Board of County Commissioners, the firemen's association voted 9-4 to begin billing for EMS. Most fire companies began billing soon afterward.
"Majority rules, and the association voted to bill for ambulance service," John Korman, firemen's association president, said after a meeting yesterday of the association, Reese and the county commissioners. "If the government comes out and tells me to do something, I'm going to do it," he said.
Reese voted in February 1999 not to charge for ambulance calls, noting fears of losing Internal Revenue Service tax-exempt status and Good Samaritan Law protection. Company officials also said they were supported sufficiently by the community and didn't need the extra money.
The Carroll County Firemen's Association has since recommended that all ambulance companies begin billing a minimum $200 per call by June 5 or lose their county allotment for EMS services - $12,500 per quarter.
Reese President Jerry Dayton and Fire Chief Marion Davidson Jr. had no comment after yesterday's meeting.
According to Commissioner Robin Bartlett Frazier, Reese asked whether the county can overrule the association on withholding county funds.
"It's like the Board of Education, we give you the money and you can spend it however, we don't have any jurisdiction over that," Frazier said. She noted the original intent of billing for ambulance calls was to raise money for companies to expand their EMS service.
"Reese's question was, what difference does it make how they raise money for their EMS - why should they be forced to bill?" Frazier said.