EMS Board fires Administrator James (Jim) Russell

Board unanimously accepts payroll and billing administrator Carla Russell’s resignation


After meeting in executive session at its regularly scheduled monthly meeting for an hour and 15 minutes, the Gonzales EMS Board of Directors went into regular session and immediately voted to terminate longtime EMS Administrator James (Jim) Russell on Tuesday night.

Board member Ray Neitsch made the motion to terminate Russell, and it was seconded by board member Frank Benes. The nine members present voted 9-0 to terminate Russell. Approximately 18 current EMS employees were in the audience at the meeting, and the overwhelming majority immediately applauded the board’s unanimous vote.

Approximately 20 minutes later in the meeting, Neitsch made a motion that the board accept and approve the voluntary resignation of payroll and billing administrator Carla Russell. Board member Sam Turk seconded the motion and the board voted 9-0 to accept the resignation. Again, the overwhelming majority of EMS employees in attendance applauded the board’s action.

It was a busy and productive meeting for the board, as they took action on a lot of items intended to clean up the state of affairs currently troubling the EMS operation. Perhaps the most surprising revelation of the evening came at the very end while EMS Administrator of Record Allen Linebrink was giving his staff report to the board.

Linebrink held up a bank envelope bag and announced to the board that the bag was found in a desk drawer. It had $1,392.41 in cash in it, along with two checks written in the amounts of $150 and $50 each. According to Linebrink, the checks were two years old. Linebrink said it was his opinion that the money was the missing Halloween Hayride fundraiser funds that were intended to purchase a pair of defibrillators for the Gonzales Rescue Division who would in turn donate those defibrillators to the Gonzales County Sheriff’s Department for placement in some of their patrol vehicles. Linebrink told the board that he thought the funds in the bank bag should be donated to the Rescue Division, who in turn could then donate the funds to the Sheriff’s Department as was originally intended a few years ago. After a brief discussion, it was agreed that is where the funds should go.

However, EMS Medical Director Dr. Bob Williamson reminded everyone that the checks and the bag were evidence in the current criminal investigation and that the Texas Rangers should be notified before anything was done.

In other action, the board was informed that the EMS computers are in the process of being backed up to an external hard drive by Steven Scott, and that the process had almost been completed and things were going smoothly.

•Linebrink informed the board that a new billing company agreement had been reached, and he expected to see the receivables start improving “enormously” in July.

•When it came time to go over the financial statements, board member Lois Wellman asked JoAnn Mercer to review the financial statement she had prepared. Mercer said she did not bring her own copy of the financials to the meeting but would be happy to answer any questions. Wellman then stated she couldn’t vote to approve the financial statement because she didn’t have time to review it before the meeting. She asked if the financial statements could be sent to the Board members in advance of the meeting so she and the other board members could review the statements and be prepared to discuss the financials. Mercer replied that it would not be a problem at all, and it was agreed that effective immediately all financials would be mailed out ahead of the board meetings;

•Based on the action taken by the Emergency Services District Board last week, there was discussion about organizing an EMS working budget session so that EMS could meet the July 19 proposed operating budget deadline imposed by the ESD board last week. It was agreed that a work session would be organized as early as possible. The board then agreed to meet again on Tuesday night, July 17 to consider approving the finished budget so they could present it to the ESD Board on July 19.