EMS may owe state more than $1 million

County board to consider over-payment from state

By Andy Winemiller - awinemiller@civitasmedia.com

DOBSON — Surry County may owe more than $1 million to the state of North Carolina.

On Thursday at 2 p.m., the Surry County Board of Commissioners will hold a special meeting at the government center in Dobson. Among the agenda items the board will consider is an over-payment from the state related to the emergency services department.

In a memorandum to the board, Surry County Finance Officer Sarah Bowen explains the county owes $281,646 to the Division of Medical Assistance (DMA) for over-payment from the division in the 2011 fiscal year.

The DMA reimburses the county for EMS services provided to Medicaid patients.

In order to arrive at the state’s reimbursement rate, EMS must determine how much it costs to transport a patient. To do this, total expenditures are divided by the total number of transports to arrive at a cost per transport.

The state uses that rate to reimburse each Medicaid transport, according to Bowen’s memo. In 2011, a total of 4,963 transports was reported by EMS, when EMS actually transported 8,934 patients.

The error in reporting erroneously drove the average cost of a transport up to more than $1,000, while the average cost per transport was actually $592.31 when the correct number of total transports is used.

According to Bowen, when the DMA used the higher cost figure to calculate what it owed the county for transporting Medicaid patients, the result was a number inflated by more than $281,000.

The DMA has sent a letter to the county demanding reimbursement for the difference in sums. Commissioners must act to send a check to the DMA prior to Sept. 1 to avoid additional fees.

According to Bowen’s correspondence to the board, EMS will attempt to absorb the reimbursement for the 2011 fiscal year in the department’s budget for the current fiscal year. Additionally, the EMS department has halted any plans for capital expenditures until the effects of the reimbursement on the department’s budget can be calculated.

While the $281,646 owed for 2011 is the immediate cause for concern for commissioners, the full effects of the improperly calculated payment may be much greater.

The county may owe about $815,000 to the DMA for over-payments in three subsequent fiscal years, according to Bowen.

Closure to Cody Creek

The board will also consider a settlement to litigation which began in 2015.

County Attorney Ed Woltz will present a proposed settlement in a case against Dobson restaurant and banquet center Cody Creek.

The county’s case against Cody Creek stems from an economic development grant used to run water and sewer services to the restaurant in 2010. When the N.C. Department of Commerce audited the establishment, it determined the restaurant had fallen short of its job-creation promises.

The county, as the applicant for the grant, was forced to repay more than $200,000 to the Department of Commerce. Surry County, using a separate but related agreement it had with Cody Creek, sought to recover the monies from the restaurant.

Cody Creek owner Fred Snow Jr. adamantly argued he did create the 21 full-time jobs he had promised, and said he owed nothing to the county.

After nearly a year of litigation and mediation and pending the board’s approval, common ground has been found in the suit.

Westfield Community Center

Additionally, the county board will consider a lease agreement with an organization looking to use the Westfield Community Center.

Included in the agenda packets of commissioners is a proposed agreement to lease the facility for Mount Airy Indoor Soccer and Sports, LLC.

The facility has been without a permanent tenant since county commissioners voted to terminate the lease agreement it had with the Westfield Boosters Club in early 2015. That agreement was terminated when the booster club failed to obtain liability insurance.

A closed session for the purposes of discussing personnel and legal matters is also on Thursday’s agenda.

The meeting begins at 2 p.m. and will be held on the second floor of the Surry County Government Center, located at 118 Hamby Road in Dobson.

County board to consider over-payment from state

By Andy Winemiller


Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.

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