CYPRESS CREEK EMS FACES AUDIT SCRUTINY
MILLIONS OF HARRIS COUNTY TAX DOLLARS INVOLVED
More trouble for the Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services tonight, and the outcome could affect 500,000 Harris County residents.
Commissioners of ESD #11 voted to hire an auditor to inspect records detailing the use of more than 10 million dollars in tax funds provided to Cypress Creek EMS. The audit comes amidst growing questions about the ambulance service’s finances.
The latest questions concern nearly $750,000 taxpayers pay for medical supplies for CCEMS ambulances. Some commissioners claim bigger ambulance companies spent hundreds of thousands dollars less. Last month, the ESD slashed nearly 2 million dollars from the proposed CCEMS budget after financial discrepancies surfaced. Today commissioners held back $14,000 from the latest medical supplies bill, and ordered CCEMS to begin competitive bidding for medical supplies.
CCEMS Executive Director, Brad England, now faces growing scrutiny. England will not tell taxpayers how much he made last year and CCEMS has refused to provide details of his current payroll or that of any other individual employee. A review of American Express records by Dolcefino Consulting show England has spent tens of thousands of dollars in fine dining restaurants amidst evidence some 911 medical payments are being used to pay for alcohol.
The Harris County District Attorney has already filed criminal charges against CCEMS for violations of transparency laws. CCEMS has ignored a ruling from the Texas Attorney General to provide the information to Dolcefino Consulting. A former medical billing company has now filed suit against CCEMS, claiming the contract was improperly steered toward relatives of a CCEMS official.
CCEMS has now filed a lawsuit against the Texas Attorney General trying to keep the information confidential, even though taxpayers are being asked to pay $7.4 million of the salaries. The rest of the CCEMS budget comes from the money paid for the 911 service they provide to Harris County taxpayers, but CCEMS denies those are even public funds.
BY WAYNE DOLCEFINO