In June 17 Issue
Following a special called meeting this Monday at which a board was appointed to oversee the Russell County Ambulance Service, the Russell County Fiscal Court considered one option should the new board refuse to continue operating the county's 911 dispatch service.
Captain Gregory Baird, commander of the Kentucky State Police Post #15 in Columbia, spoke to the members of the court and the audience for about an hour. He and other KSP staff described the generalities of what it would take for the post to take over dispatch duties for the county, as well as how much it would cost.
Baird said the county would have to pay one-time expenses, such as $60,000 for the purchase of a computer aided dispatch radio console, $3,000 for a radio backup system and $4,000 per radio frequency used by the county.
Presently the county dispatch system uses two police channels, one ambulance, another for the rescue squad and one fire frequency.
He said the on-going costs would be $44,000 per dispatcher needed. He said there would be at least three necessary but possibly as many as 4 or 5.
Which would mean an ongoing commitment at a cost of between $132,000 to $220,000 per year.
Budget estimates for operating the present dispatch system is between $280,000 and $325,000 for the coming fiscal year. The actual budget was to be addressed at the special called meeting of the ambulance board Tuesday night.
Less than two years ago the ambulance service had, with the blessings of the fiscal court and the local cities, assumed responsibility for the dispatch center.
At that time, the service was running approximately between $100,000 and $150,000 in the black every fiscal year, would be saving over $40,000 a year in the fees they had been paying to support the dispatch service, and was expecting $100,000 in receipts from cellphone fees. That expected budget of between $240,000 and $290,000 was believed to be more than sufficient to cover the costs of operating the program, based on previous years' budgets at that time.
Since the resignation of the service's director at that time, Mark Coots, the service and dispatch operations have spent the $150,000 that was in the bank, borrowed another $150,000, taken over $40,000 from the fiscal court and according to an inside source may have expended another $200,000 that had been held in a rainy-day fund.
That would be in excess of $540,000 in expenditures in less than 2 years, beyond normally budgeted spending financed by local taxes, fees and insurance charges for service.
According to statements by Interim Director Terry Hancock to the court over the last three meetings, the agency has paid back over $50,000 of the money borrowed from the bank, and has more than $100,000 in operating funds in the bank at present.
Mickey Garner, the outgoing county judge-executive, has said that the ambulance board intends to give notice to the county that it will terminate the interlocal agreement that placed dispatch within their purview.
Those were the plans of the previous board, a new board has been constituted of the most junior of the previous members.
Now on the board are Mike Popplewell, Leslie Simpson and James Gray.
Popplewell is a city worker in Russell Springs. Simpson is a water department worker in Jamestown. Gray is the director of the Wolf Creek National Fish Hatchery.
Popplewell had been appointed to fill the term of Beckham Wilson who had resigned, and had filled those few months before his appointment expired.
Popplewell was the only nomination to garner any no votes. Magistrates Steve Bledsoe and Greg Popplewell voted against the re-appointment of that candidate, while all others were appointed unanimously.
In other appointments—
Steve Stapp was appointed to the term vacated by Connie Foster on the county's library board.
Jim Edmonds replaced Denver Wilson on the property valuation board.
The court received the jail report, indicating that the daily average was 52 inmates and $1,137 in fees were collected in the last month with 33 overtime hours incurred.
The county's budget was announced at $4.4 million, with $1.4 million going to the general fund, $1.5 million to the road fund and $1.1 million to fund the jail operations.
Taxing district budgets reported to the court were—
Community action agency, $14.7 million
Development district, $5.4 million
Area health department, $2.5 million
Extension service, $304,000
Conservation board, 67,000.