In July 15 IssueBy Derek AaronTimes Journal Reporter
Russell Springs Mayor Hollis DeHart led a lengthy discussion on the current fiscal and operating situation at the county's 911 Dispatch Center at this month's regular meeting of the city council.
DeHart began by reading a letter from the ambulance board stating that the fiscal court now has less than 120 days until they are responsible for operations at the 911 Emergency Dispatch Center and that the Russell County Ambulance Board dissolved the interlocal agreement late last month that had placed the responsibility for dispatch services under the board's control.
The mayor then read another letter, this one from City Attorney Athena Cooper who also served as the legal counsel for the ambulance board, that announced her resignation as counsel for the EMS board.
"I do not feel that I can adequately represent the board when I am excluded from the board's business, including executive sessions, and when board members are seeking the advice of other attorneys," Cooper wrote in the letter.
Following the readings of these documents, DeHart said he had a long talk on this issue with County Judge-Executive Mickey Garner just days before.
"I can not at this time recommend that we return to the way it was previously," DeHart said. He said he knew the county needed an ambulance service and 911 service but there was a "bunch of stuff that needs doing," before that.
DeHart and Councilman David Blakey called the board's budget "inflated" and the mayor said there were certain items in the budget that did not make sense to him.
The mayor then read a rough draft that he is anticipating sending to Garner about his and the city's stance on the issue with dispatch and the ambulance board.
DeHart questioned the board's budget and the increase in many of its areas since the interlocal agreement took over in mid-2008.
"Certainly this is not to accuse anyone of wrongdoing, however we all know of what a problem management has been over the past couple of years," he said. "I seriously doubt there is anyone presently employed or appointed by the ambulance/911 links that can unravel this mess."
The mayor went on to say that he felt that if management had stayed the way it was in the 07-08 fiscal year, the emergency services would be in the "black."
He then offered several ways to help fund the service.
"The very first thing is to get an audit," DeHart said. He then said it was his opinion that the ambulance board be expanded to seven members with each county magistrate having an appointment and the county judge-executive having one appointment which must come from the medical community.
"EMTs, paramedics, etc. should be cross-trained as 911 operators as well," he said. "We need a lot of questions answered on the budget, it is just that simple."
In other happenings at the meeting:
• The council heard and passed the second reading of the amended water and sewer rates ordinance.
The ordinance established new water rates for those within the corporate city limits and those outside of the city for the various meter sizes. The minimum monthly water rate for customers living in the city limits is $15.83 while the minimum monthly rate for customers outside the corporate limits if the city is $22.32.
Sewer rate for residents inside the city is $14.82 for the first 2,000 gallons while for residents outside the city it is $17.40. If over 2,000 gallons residents inside the city can add $5.80 for each 1,000 gallons while residents outside the city will pay $6.06 for each additional 1,000 gallons. Flat rate sewer customers are at $18.43, according to the ordinance.
All bills will be due by the 15th day of the month and a late fee of 10 percent will be added if not paid by the due date.
Customers must pay their bill by the 25th of the month or water service will be disconnected and require a $25 hookup fee to be connected back to the service.
• DeHart announced the city had $49,000 for blacktopping with $10,000-12,000 going toward salt in the winter months. The remaining funds will be used for blacktopping and emergency purposes.
The mayor asked council members Ray Barrett, Ricky Barnes and Lisa Mann to serve on a prioritizing committee of what they think needs blacktopping after meeting individually with the other council members.
• The city has rented the old water plant for $600 per month to Triple D Communications, the company that is laying the fiber optic lines for Duo County Telephone. The work is expected to take around a year to complete.