Audit shows problems in city's emergency medical services deal

City News Service

The city of San Diego hasn't adequately monitored the finances of a joint venture it operates with a private company to provide emergency medical services, possibly costing it nearly $11 million a year, the city's auditor said in a report released Monday.

Several financial accounting issues were found with San Diego Medical Services, a partnership between the city and Rural/Metro of San Diego, that remain unresolved and may have cost the city money, according to the report from Auditor Eduardo Luna.

Two transactions worth a combined $10 million are questionable, and various fees and overhead costs paid to Rural/Metro "may be invalid, inflated, potentially duplicative in nature or not properly substantiated,'' according to the report.

The auditor's report states that Rural/Metro controls all aspects of SDMS financial operations, and the board of directors that runs the venture has not met in nearly two years because there are not enough members.

The report lists 11 recommendations, including that the city:

• review current and previous SDMS revenues and expenses to make sure reimbursements to Rural/Metro were appropriate, reasonable and substantiated by

sufficient documentation;

• modify the governance of the venture; and

• develop a comprehensive plan to monitor the partnership's finances.

The director of the city's Administration Department, Debra Fischle-Faulk, said the city's emergency medical agreement was being renegotiated to have a more traditional contractual relationship, instead of a joint venture.

The new deal will address most of the findings and recommendations in the auditor's report, she said.

Rural/Metro officials were not immediately available for comment.



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