Dec. 2, 2017 — The November board meeting of the Western Lane Ambulance District (WLAD) took place Wednesday at a new location, Siuslaw Valley Fire and Rescue Station (SVFR) No. 1.
The change of venue was agreed upon at last month’s WLAD meeting in an effort to provide a larger space for the group to meet as well as one that is better suited, from a technology perspective, to incorporate video and multi-media presentations to board members.
The ongoing integration of many aspects of the two districts was also a major reason for the change.
The move was supported by most members of the board with the only exception, or no vote, being cast by Director Cindy Russell.
Russell objected to the move, citing the “diminishment of the importance of the ambulance district in the eyes of the community” and her ongoing reluctance to further integrate the operations of WLAD and SVFR.
During the meeting, Operations Chief Matt House, detailed the month’s calls, made department reports and introduced a new paramedic, Chris Martin, to the board.
Chief Director Jim Langborg presented his written report and took additional time to address an unusual issue that had surfaced earlier in the month. Langborg detailed an incident the SVFR had involving a complaint made to the Florence Police Department.
The complaint, suggesting that fiscal improprieties were taking place at WLAD, was made anonymously.
Langborg was adamant in his response to the complaint, stating that there was no basis for the concern. He cited recent reports from outside audits.
“I advised (Florence Police) Chief Turner that both WLAD and SVFR are in the process of our annual audits and onsite reviews of our administrative processes. Our finance practices were recently completed. During the on-site portion of the audit process, I spoke with the auditors and have not been informed of any detected findings or suspicion of fraud, theft or misappropriation of funds,” Langborg said. “I also advised Turner that the two consultants who visited our districts to conduct the reviews did not report any findings of illegal, unethical or inappropriate practices.”
Langborg continued his defense of the departments by announcing the hiring of a new employee. This will assist in clarifying and eventually eliminating the confusion surrounding the accounting practices for both districts.
“I am bringing in a very experienced interim administrator with a strong background in government finance and administration to serve as our interim office manager,” Langborg said. “Another consultant will be here to review our payroll in more detail, to ensure we have not missed anything and to verify the accuracy of our payroll calculations.”
The chief then introduced Interim Manager Ross Schultz to the board. Schultz made a short presentation, noting for the record he had only been onsite for two days and had made a perfunctory examination of the records.
This examination has turned up no irregularities
Langborg went on to emphasize to the board that these steps were not being taken because he felt there was any illegal or unethical conduct, but as a way of validating the districts’ accounting and payroll procedures.
“I have requested that our auditor prepare a written statement that indicates they have not detected any illegal activity during this year’s audit in either organization,” he said.
Langborg then went on to acknowledge problems that have been brought to his attention and stressed the proactive approach he has taken to eliminate any further issues of this type.
“I have mandated our management team to have a new time keeping process in place by Jan. 1. Our current system is problematic and adds to the probability of payroll errors. This is an obvious and easy fix for some of our errors, and you will be hearing more about this in the weeks to come,” Langborg said.
The board had few questions for Langborg, noting his willingness to address issues and problems as they arose.
The directors also applauded his willingness to institute any changes that would improve district procedures.