Peru selectmen question Med-Care finances

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PERU – The Board of Selectmen on Monday discussed whether to support Mexico in asking Med-Care Ambulance Services for a list of employees’ names and salaries.

In July, Mexico selectmen asked Med-Care Ambulance for a list of its employees’ salaries after learning Med-Care’s budget would increase more than 30 percent.

During their July 21 meeting, Mexico Board of Selectmen Chairman Richie Philbrick said he received a response from Med-Care directors that their lawyer advised they did not have to disclose names of employees and their salaries.

Peru Selectman John Witherell said he was curious if other selectmen wanted to back up Mexico in requesting the information.

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Selectman Jim Pulsifer, who is treasurer for the Med-Care Ambulance board, said residents were “welcome to any of the information about Med-Care’s budget, except for the individual names and salaries of the Med-Care employees.”

“Our lawyer said that we should not be giving out individual names and salaries,” Pulsifer said.

Witherell said he thought Pulsifer has a conflict of interest.

Pulsifer replied, “Let me tell you real quick what Med-Care’s position is: we’re not trying to hide anything. All of the dollars and cents are out there. You can look at the Med-Care books and see all the amount totals expended for salary and overtime for 2015, 2014, 2013, even 2012. The only thing that we’re not required to present, we’ve been told, is the names associated with the total income. We’re perfectly fine to show the total amount we’re spending on salaries, but in terms of giving out the individual names and the rates they’re receiving? We don’t have to give that out.”

Witherell asked Pulsifer if the information about Med-Care’s total salary budget had been given out.

“Yes, it has,” Pulsifer said.

“And is Mexico happy with that?” Witherell asked.

“No, they are not,” Pulsifer said. “They want the information about the individual names to be public knowledge, and we’re being told by our lawyers that it doesn’t have to be. To the best of my knowledge, nobody on the board of directors has a problem with Mexico’s request, but we need to protect our employees, and they have the right to keep their overall rates secret.”

Witherell said the 11 towns that were part of Med-Care Ambulance saw the Med-Care budget increase by 33.3 percent.

“Is this increase due to raises?” Witherell asked.

Pulsifer said the board of directors had asked the Med-Care director to keep all employee raises within 1 to 2 percent, rather than the standard 3 percent. He later added that the biggest reason that Med-Care is not meeting its budget is the “slowness in payments from Medicare and Medicaid.”

Chairman Lee Merrill added, “Another big thing resulting in the budget is calls. If people don’t get put in that ambulance, they don’t get charged.”

Witherell later asked Pulsifer if Mexico was still pursuing the names of the employees.

“They are,” Pulsifer said. “They may pursue a freedom of information request. Our lawyer doesn’t think it applies to this particular case, and we don’t think it’s appropriate to pass out people’s names with the amount of money they make attached to it, especially because we’re a nonprofit corporation.”

mdaigle@sunmediagroup.net

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