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Vermilion Lake delays action on ambulance contract

Stephanie Ukkola
Posted 10/23/20

VERMILION LAKE TWP- Tower Clerk-Treasurer Victoria Ranua addressed ongoing financial questions surrounding the city’s ambulance service at the Vermilion Lake Township Board regular meeting on …

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Vermilion Lake delays action on ambulance contract

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VERMILION LAKE TWP- Tower Clerk-Treasurer Victoria Ranua addressed ongoing financial questions surrounding the city’s ambulance service at the Vermilion Lake Township Board regular meeting on Oct. 8.
She said that although the former clerk-treasurer, Linda Keith, had often transferred funds without council authorization, the service has had its own separate ambulance subsidy checking account since the 1980s and this particular account hadn’t been touched.
Ranua said that past ambulance transactions went through the city’s main checking account, but as of Jan. 1, they’ve been conducted through the ambulance account She said it’s still a work in progress because each insurance vendor needs to change their direct deposit information to the new account. Ranua said the city is developing a new website which will show bank statements, an act of transparency to build trust in the city’s management, which has come into question over recent years.
Board member Phil Anderson, the township ambulance liaison, said that he had toured the new ambulance and that it was very nice, but was disappointed in the lack of discussion of the ambulance agreement during the meeting, though there was some discussions on finances.
“I get the feeling that there are people trying to control the ambulance,” he said, “but it’s not designed to do that.”
Anderson made a motion to approve the aid agreement, which failed for a lack of a second. The other two board members had not received a copy of the agreement yet and said they would like a chance to review it before going forward.
In other news, the town board approved spending of CARES Act funds of up to $6,975 on no-touch thermometers, hand sanitizer, disinfectants and PPE, as well as costs associated with the change to mail-only voting.
The next meeting will be Nov. 12 at 10 a.m.

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Lee Peterson

According to the Oct 23, 2020 Timberjay coverage of the Tower Clerk-Treasurer's attendance at the Oct. 8 Vermilion Lake Town Board meeting to address questions about the ambulance service, "She said that although the former clerk-treasurer, Linda Keith, had often transferred funds without council authorization, the service has had its own separate ambulance subsidy checking account since the 1980s and this particular account hadn't been touched". That statement is clearly at odds with what Tower interim clerk-treasurer Ann Lamppa reported in the front page headline article of the Sept. 27, 2019 Timberjay that I have quoted below.

‘The city is in dire straits’

Interim clerk-treasurer paints grim financial picture

"Meanwhile, Lamppa said all of the transfers require city council authorization, but Keith never obtained the council’s consent. And while money has since been restored to the ambulance subsidy account, which currently totals $118,765, Lamppa said even that fund had been drained almost entirely at various points. She said that fund is considered a special fund from which even the council could not authorize transfers for anything other than the dedicated purpose of ambulance and equipment replacement."

Wouldn't it be nice if the City would do a "forensic audit" as the St. Louis County Attorney's office recommended when these financial problems at City Hall began to surface. Then we'd even know for sure where the missing $697,299 from the TAAS service fund was transferred to by the City. That was money earned by the ambulances when they went out on calls. It's still missing and unaccounted for. The official Dec. 31, 2019 City Audit lists it as "Ambulance Special Revenue" $697,299 "Due From Other Funds". The ambulance money was spent on something. Taxpayers deserve to know where it went.

Wednesday, October 28
John Bassing

I don’t understand the confusion. There is a simple truth here, either the ambulance replacement fund was depleted for other uses as Clerk Lamppa has described or it has not been touched for other purposes as Clerk Ranua describes. The confusion about this simple matter leads only to suspicion of why.

Thursday, October 29