EMSA Board Places Restriction On Spending Following Auditor's Report

Wednesday, January 23rd 2013, 6:49 pm
By: News On 6

EMSA's Board of Trustees is speaking out for the first time since a state audit revealed thousands of dollars in questionable spending.

EMSA's 11-member Board of Trustees requested a special audit. It looked at spending from January 2009 to June 2012.

"Clearly, it was mandatory, if we had any chance of establishing and re-establishing trust with the public. We had to go through this audit process," said board member Dr. Ed Shadid.

The audit said EMSA employees were reimbursed for $321,000 for "questionable items" like large meals, valet parking and room service.

The report also revealed more than $75,000 were spent on things like floral arrangements, exercise classes and charitable donations.

1/22/2013 Related Story: EMSA Employees, CEO Reimbursed More Than $600,000 Over 3 Years

"I can't imagine why we would be making donations to non-profits or private entities," Shadid said.

The audit also showed CEO Stephen Williamson spent $316,000 on personal things like spa bills.

The board's chairwoman is now asking Williamson to let her know when the company makes purchases over $2,500.

"I want the public to understand that we are going to move ahead with what we need to do to make this the best trust around," said Chairwoman Lillian Perryman.

Since the board asked for this special audit, the administration didn't have the opportunity to explain its side on why it made these large purchases.

"He wasn't able to provide the auditor with any information on those individual findings, so I think it's appropriate that we allow Steve the time to do that," said board member Gary Marrs.

"We don't need to hear a response to know that there was a breakdown in governance by this board," Shadid argued.

"I don't think the governance is that bad. We wouldn't be turning out such a good product if we weren't doing a pretty good job of helping guide the administration of emergency services," said board member Dr. Jim Rogers.

The board plans to form a committee to review spending policies at its next meeting.