May 13, 2013

The weekly budget meeting at 5:00PM this Monday night had some very interesting discussion about EMS, the budget, and going out for an RFP (Request for Proposal) to privatize EMS in Jasper County.

Four commissioners were present at the meeting with Comm. Salmon participating via speakerphone.  There was no one from the paper to report on this or any other issue discussed (like closing the landfill).

During the discussion, they said EMS revenue for 2013 was budgeted at $420,000. For the first 8 months of the budget year $294,000 had been collected.  This would be an annualized amount of $441,872.

EMS expenses are budgeted at $816,000. The actual cost of EMS to the county is approximately $335,100 per year.  (The figures discussed don’t add up to this amount, but that was the bottom line.)

The BOC is looking for $300,000 to get the wants and needs down to come in line with revenues.

Comm. Trammell said he knows it is controversial, but he thinks the county could break even if they privatize EMS.  Comm. Salmon then said all 3 ambulances were having engine problems, and we were down to one unit a few weeks ago.  He said the repairs were a drain on the county.

Later in the meeting EMS was discussed again.  Comm. Salmon again brought up privatization of EMS and said he didn’t want to jeopardize the safety of the citizens, but wanted to know if we outsourced EMS, what kind of savings would it give us [the county]?

Lorri Smith told the BOC the savings would be the revenues less the expenses.  She also said it would not be the same service level.  She said the county would always have a staff ambulance but you won’t have a basic ambulance. Lorri also brought up that people in the county won’t know the people on the ambulances. (When this was tried before the ambulance drivers did not know the area or the location of the roads in the county.)

Watch video-Craig Salmon is talking via speakerphone.

Comm. Henry then asked how much was being spent on overtime at EMS.  The figure in the budget is $145,000.   Lorri Smith then mentioned that the EMTs and Paramedics are guaranteed to make 8 hours of overtime per every 2 weeks.  This is how their pay rate is figured, so there is going to be overtime.

At the end of the meeting Comm. Salmon again brought up the cost of maintaining the ambulances.  Comm. Trammell said our EMS was ragged now, but those folks were doing the best they can.  Comm. Pennamon wanted to put in on the agenda for the next meeting to go out for an RFP for EMS services.  This was agreed to with nods by the BOC and by Comm. Salmon via speaker phone.  They all said they “just wanted to see” but the discussion throughout the meeting indicated much more than getting figures.  Somehow they all have been led to believe this would save the county money.

The next BOC meeting will be next Tuesday, May 21 at 6:30PM.

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