2023-06-08 Minutes

Board of Trustees                                June 8, 2023 
West Blount Fire & EMS District 
The Board of Trustees for West Blount Fire and Emergency Medical Services District met at Fire Station No. 1 on June 8, 2023, the meeting was opened at 6:00 PM by Marty Stover, Chair, with prayer by Danny Smith.  Four trustees were present, plus JJ Ivey, Fire Chief, Melissa Thomas, Treasurer, and Stacy Quinn and Christie Moore, Billing Managers, and Whitney Eiland, attorney.  One guest signed attendance sheet.         

The minutes of the May 11, 2023 meeting were accepted on motion by Danny Smith, seconded by Dolores Fort.  The minutes of the Special Meeting on May 18, 2023 were accepted on motion by Danny Smith, seconded by Dolores Fort 

Financial report – The operating balance for May 2023 was $480,633.40.  Total income was $60,001.59, with dues of $34,436.05.  Total expenses were $51,298.56 with payroll of $29,017.61, and repair and maintenance of $7,662.68.  A question was raised about the difference in amounts for income between the front summary page and the monthly profit and loss statement.  It has to do with the bank credit cards.  The bank is putting credit card money in the firefighters account instead of the department’s account.  This will be corrected.
     Two new credit cards, each with different numbers, through Traditions Bank each with a $5000 limit, were presented, one to Chief JJ Ivey for his use when purchasing equipment, supplies, etc. when not possible to go through the checking account.  Complete details of the purchase will be recorded in a log after each purchase to know what the money was spent on.  This is to protect both the fire department and the chief.  The second card will remain in the office for the use of the billing managers when they have to purchase supplies, stamps, etc. when going through the checking account is not possible.  They will also have a log to record details of what each purchase was for, again, for the protection of the fire department and the billing managers.    
     The financial report was accepted on motion by Danny Smith, seconded by Jamie Huffstutler.      

Chief’s Report

Total calls for May were 111, including 11 out-of-area (7 – Mt. High / Ricetown; 1 – Bangor;  1 – Nectar; 1 – Locust Fort / Cleveland; 1 – Warrior): 71 medical, 3 structure fire, 16 auto accident, 5 fire alarm, 1 vehicle fire, 7 public service, 3 wild fire, 2 fire other, 3 tree down.  Breakdown by station = Sta. 1 Hayden, 45; Sta. 2 Smoke Rise, 51; Sta. 3 Sugar Creek, 9; Sta. 4, Nyota, 6.

The following was also reported:
    Engine 1953 is now back in service at a cost of $5,000 for an individual injector pump for each injector    
    The new Hurst tools grant money has been received  
    All air packs have been tested and each passed
    Payton Gilbert, a new hire, will be starting Bridge program next week.  

The Chief’s report was accepted on motion by Danny Smith, seconded by Jamie Huffstutler.

Old Business

Billing Update – The attorneys at the end of May had a total of 228 accounts, one was paid in full.  There was a check received from MSN (Massey, Stotser, & Nicholas) in the amount of 
West Blount Fire Board – June 8, 2023                            Page 2

$380 for May collections with totals of $11,104.98 collected in 2023, and $183,114.09 since first turned over to MSN.   One new account was added in May.  There are currently 112 accounts on a payment plan.  There were no exemptions in May, leaving total exemptions for this year at 97 approved, representing dues of $14,550, and 6 denied.  Fire dues received in May was $24,206.99 in checks or cash, $9,931 03 Credit/Debit card and $73.03 fees, plus $225 assessment fees.  Total collected for May was $34,436.05 [income from 2022 was $34,972.37] and total income for 2023 is $448,181.77.  There are 859 accounts in the system with a balance totaling $369,368.99 (roughly 60% with liens) as of May 31, 2023, which includes all outstanding dues from the beginning.  So far this year there is 76% participation of dues payment.  As of the end of May there were 2,712 accounts paid in full, 859 with a balance.
     A 30-day letter was sent to 171 accounts and a 10-day letter to 6 accounts prior to sending the accounts to collections for non-payment.  These letters explain what the current situation is and the various methods open to them for solutions.  Positive reaction has been seen as a result of these letters.  The body of the letter was revamped as well as the addition to the QR code for easy access payment.
     A goal for the end of 2023 of 90% zero balance has been set.  With the added options of online payments and the QR code, a greater impact will be made on the younger, working citizens of this district that do not find the time to call or come by the office during business hours.  So far, results are showing the new system is working.  There has been great feedback and collection of past due payments as a result of the letters sent trying to collect funds prior to sending the account to collections.       

Third Party Billing – At a special meeting on May 18, 2023, it was decided to go with Fire Recovery USA beginning May 23, 2023.  Since then they have billed insurance companies for $3,514, which are still pending.

Blount Springs – Further tests are being run on the water lines, no report on that yet.   

Flag Pole – The light has been installed

Current Guidelines per Fire District – Our department does not have the authority to enforce the Fire Codes.  Clay Jones has been working very hard to find a way around this.  He has been in contact with Commission Chair Chris Green and our legislative delegation  

New Business

July 4th – The ice cream has been ordered. 

Credit Card for Purchases – The chief’s account originally set up for small incidental expenses, i.e. stopping for lunch after a fire or call, a small item needed, etc., but has become a catchall for purchases that are not conducive to checkbook payments.  A new credit card system has been set up, one master account with two separate cards, each with different numbers, one for the chief and one for the office.  A ledger or log-book will be kept for both cards to record every transaction with details of what it was and what it was for.  A report on this will be given at each meeting.

Rules and Regulations of Subdivisions/Commercial Property Regarding Fire Hydrants/Water Line Size – We will keep encouraging developers, mayors, etc. for new subdivisions to help us 

West Blount Fire Board – June 8, 2023                                Page 3

out by installing the proper size lines and hydrants so we can properly service the area.  Their help is essential to change the situation concerning water in our area. 

Other – The fee for the Assessment Letter Request is currently $15, that is invoiced to closing attorneys, has remained the same since the District was established.  MSN, our collection agency, charges $20 for the same requests.  This fee is paid by the closing parties, not the attorneys or our collection agency.  On motion by Dolores Fort, seconded by Danny Smith the fee will be raised to $25.  The billing office will send a letter to all current attorneys being worked with to advise them of the increase.    

Announcements – The next Board meeting will be Thursday, July 12, 2023, 6:00 PM at Fire Station No. 1.

The meeting was adjourned at 7:10 PM on motion by Danny Smith.

Present            Not Present                 Guests                 
Dolores Fort            Mark Giddy (father in ER)        Warren Stewart            
Jamie Huffstutler
Danny Smith                                
Marty Stover                
JJ Ivey
Melissa Thomas                    
Stacy Quinn
Christie Moore    
Whitney Eiland 

                        Dolores Fort     


On June 12, 2023, the following was received via email 

Good morning! The blue lines mark locations of all the water meters. When they shut off all the meters they found a few with obvious leaks that will be replaced and Alabama Rural Water Association will be coming soon with listening equipment to check all meters for leaks to see if any others need replacing. As soon as that’s done their next step will be to resolve the lack of volume Blount County is providing which we hope will provide enough flow for the hydrants. Jamie Huffstutler