Board says no to Chocowinity EMS audit

Published 8:14 pm Thursday, August 23, 2018

The Beaufort County Board of Commissioner turned down a suggestion by one commissioner to audit Chocowinity EMS’ books.

Based on what he said was a rumor, Commissioner Hood Richardson asked fellow commissioners to look into whether the EMS squad was late in making payments on bills such as employee insurance.

“My question is: How do we know that the tax money that’s collected from the taxpayers is actually being spent properly by fire and EMS units?” Richardson asked.

The remaining commissioners said they hadn’t heard of any rumors about the EMS squad, and while Richardson requested county Manager Brian Alligood look into the books, which are kept by the Town of Chocowinity, Alligood said he’d need the go-ahead from the entire board to do so.

After Richardson’s motion failed to get a second, Capt. Shane Grier, of Chocowinity EMS, defended his organization’s, and the town’s, bookkeeping, and issued an open invitation to see the records.

“I will say that on behalf of our budget and our books, our books are open,” Grier said. “They’re audited every year through a state audit. We just went through a forensic audit last year, which is clear. So if at any point and time you want the books, we’ll be glad to get them for you.”

Board Chairman Frankie Waters clarified with Grier that the Town of Chocowinity is the entity responsible for the EMS squad’s finances — all billing and invoicing goes through it.

“The town writes all the checks,” Grier said.

As for rumors of financial difficulties, Grier said he hears them all the time.

“I hear rumors every day, sir. What would like to hear today? Last month, it was we borrowed a bunch of money from people,” he said. “In the last two months, I’ve heard that we were buying a helicopter. We’re building a helicopter hangar beside our station — I think (Beaufort County Emergency Services Director) Carnie (Hedgepeth) and I were talking about that today. I think a lot of it is politically motivated.

Grier also issued an open invitation to the county board to attend the Chocowinity EMS Board’s meetings.