Austin-Travis County EMS

Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

Mayor Pro Tem Sheryl Cole and Council Member Bill Spelman, who both sit on the Council’s Audit and Finance Committee, as well as a local attorney with expertise in employment law, have expressed concern over the city’s handling of an employee who received more than $200,000 in salary overpayments but was only required to repay $6,000 of it.

Cole, chair of the audit committee, told the Austin Monitor, "It is unacceptable for this error to have occurred in 2004 and not be discovered until 2011. The fact that it took two additional years to address the matter adds to my deep frustration upon being made aware of this issue. The employee should be required to repay these public funds to the extent legally pursuable."

An aide in Cole’s office told the Austin Monitor Thursday that she plans to put the matter on next Wednesday’s Audit and Finance Committee agenda.

Spencer Selvidge for KUT News

This story comes to us from our city hall reporting partner, the Austin Monitor.

The City of Austin has overpaid a former Austin/Travis County paramedic by perhaps as much as $200,000 over an eight-year period that began in 2004. Though the problem was first discovered in 2011, it took until 2013 for the city to correct it.

According to a memo from Assistant City Attorney Lee Crawford, the city is legally entitled to “recover the amount of overpaid wages that (the employee) received for the last two years,” as of 2013. Crawford puts that figure at $68,014.55. However, under an agreement between the city and the overpaid employee, the employee was only required to return $6,240.00 of the total.

Nathan Bernier, KUT News

Update: The City of Austin is looking into what caused its 911 system to stop working yesterday.

The system is running as normal today.

Original Story (Dec. 16, 6:14 p.m.): Austin's 911 emergency call functions were disrupted Monday afternoon, leading to some longer wait times for callers.

The city activated its Emergency Operations Center to manage the outage. The Austin Police Department put more officers on the streets to increase visibility and accessibility.

Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell said the city has been getting help from agencies in surrounding communities.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

The City of Austin Auditor’s office says city vehicles seem to have a problem with breakdowns.

The vehicles aren’t always getting preventative maintenance and they’re spending more time in repair shops than the best practices standard.

Local politics news service In Fact Daily reports that the city’s Fleet Services Department doesn’t have enough repair space.

Jeff Heimsath for KUT News

Central Texas isn’t taking any chances when it comes to wildfires.

Today, Travis County unveiled a new STAR Flight helicopter designed to fight wildfires, and tomorrow the city and the county are teaming up for a series of public meetings for their “Community Wildfire Protection Plan.”

Flickr user edolnx, bit.ly/ZDRVTb

The Commissioners Court didn’t renew an Austin/Travis County EMS contract last night. They’ll wait until next week to do that. But county commissioners did show some love for a new proposal that would create a unit of paramedics roaming the city in trucks tending to those sick and injured Austinites in need of assistance.

Sounds familiar right? Strangely enough, they’re not ambulances. 

Flickr user edolnx, bit.ly/ZDRVTb

The City of Austin’s Public Safety Commission is recommending that the city auditor make a full examination of the Austin-Travis County EMS department.

Back in November, an audit found billing collection processes were so poor that EMS was at risk of having money stolen and not even realizing it. Issues this new audit would look at include inventive solutions to staffing levels, resources, overtime and more.

“There’s some complexities that I hope the city auditor can help us with,” Public Safety chair Michael Lauderdale says.

Daniel Reese for KUT News

Austin's Public Safety Commission will stay busy this evening discussing a medley of public safety topics:

Daniel Reese for KUT News

*Updated to include response from Austin-Travis Co. EMS

Austin’s City Auditor says billing collection processes at Austin-Travis County EMS are so poor that the department is at risk of having money stolen or bills miscalculated and not even realizing it.

A report by the Auditor’s office says EMS does not comply with the city’s cash handling policy and isn’t taking measures to ensure the department is depositing all the revenue it receives.

In one instance, the Auditor’s office found more than $200,000 dollars in undeposited collections stored in an open and unattended plastic storage container.