County could sue to get SEOEMS refund

Published 9:53 am Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The next step may be in the courtroom.

That could be where Lawrence County is headed in its efforts to get more than a quarter of a million dollars owed to it from the now defunct Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services.

Last month, State Auditor Dave Yost released an audit of the ambulance service, which had served Lawrence, Athens and Jackson counties for more than three decades. According to the audit that targeted years 2008, 2009, 2010, Lawrence County is owed $301, 396. The audit also determined that for those three years Athens operated in the red with a total deficit of $409,118. Jackson had deficits of $304,482 for 2008 and 2010. However in 2009, Jackson had a surplus of $68,175. That adds up to Athens and Jackson owing SEOEMS $645,425 and Lawrence owed the refund.

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When Lawrence County Commission President Les Boggs asked for that money during a recent SEOEMS board meeting in Jackson, his motion was defeated.

Next the commissioners contacted Yost to see if he could force payment.

“I called the state auditor’s office and they said ‘We don’t enforce. We do the findings,” Boggs said. “Then I contacted the attorney general’s office and asked them for a meeting. Their response was we only enforce if there is a conflict with the local prosecutor.”

Now the county prosecutor will determine if that office will take the case.

“Not only are we the legal adviser for the county but (we have been) the legal adviser for SEOEMS,” Mack Anderson, assistant prosecutor, said. “If we can do it ethically, we will do it.”

Anderson expects that determination would be made in the next week.

“If someone pushes SEOEMS, that would force pushing them for the money (owed),” Anderson said. “It would be a civil suit against SEOEMS, which hopefully would force SEOEMS to take action against Jackson and Athens.”