Commission will clarify rescue service agreements
The Morgan County Commissioners changed minor wording in its Ambulance Fee ordinance last week in an effort to reinforce their role as the head of the county’s EMS system.
Commissioner Brad Close introduced the revisions, saying state law was his guide.
“The county commission is charged by the state to provide EMS service,” said Close.
Wording was changed to remove the names of Morgan County Rescue Service and Paw Paw Fire & Rescue from the ordinance as specific providers of EMS service.
Close was clear to say the change didn’t indicate any lack of confidence of those agencies.
Instead, the revisions focused attention back on county officials as the ones who would appoint an EMS Board and oversee that board’s choice of EMS providers for county residents.
Open to more providers
While Paw Paw Fire & Rescue and Morgan County Rescue have long been the primary ambulance services in the county, Close said county officials should be open to the idea of additional EMS agencies providing services to county residents.
“Is this something that can be bid out?” asked Commis-sion President Stacy Dugan.
Bob Dugan asked how many counties used private ambulance companies to provide their emergency services.
Commissioner Dugan said she knew of a couple that rely on private ambulances.
Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson asked if the EMS Board had contracts with the two current rescue squads to carry out EMS services with funding from Morgan County’s ambulance fee revenue.
Bob Dugan said he didn’t think the board had a written contract with either Morgan County Rescue or Paw Paw Fire & Rescue.
Hutchinson urged them to put one into effect, saying the contracts didn’t need to be long or complicated.
Kim Michael, Chief Tax Deputy for the Sheriff’s Office, asked county officials to spell out what administrative costs her office was supposed to cover for Morgan County Rescue Service.
Under a recent agreement, the Sheriff’s Tax Office receives 6.5% of the Ambulance Fee revenue to cover the cost of billing and collecting the fee from county property owners.
Michael said her office would not pay the Rescue Service’s bills for computer software maintenance, computer equipment or other assorted office expenses.
“That’s part of administration, that’s my point of view. I think this needs to be spelled out,” said Bob Dugan of the EMS Board.
Michael agreed, saying she thought the 6.5% administrative fee was supposed to cover staffing, postage, paper for billing and collections. Paying other bills out of that percentage would cut into her staff’s pay, Michael said.
“I want it in black and white,” Michael said.
The commissioners agreed to clarify the limits of the administrative payouts during an already-planned budget meeting with the Morgan County Rescue Service on Wednesday, June 1 at 9:30 a.m.
Another topic for that June 1 meeting will be how the county and rescue service divide maintenance and costs for the rescue squad building, which the two organizations own together.
A recent $5,600 bill for HVAC repair at the squad building raised questions about how maintenance and repair costs would be divided there.