In April 16 IssueBy Kim GrahamNews-Register Reporter
At April's regularly scheduled meeting, the Russell County Ambulance Board voted unanimously to approve an amended budget for fiscal year 2010-2011 to reflect changes resulting from the EMS and 911 dispatch split last October.
"We amended the budget to make it more accurate and show the correct expenses for EMS only," said Russell County Ambulance Board Chairman James Gray. "There were some outstanding bills associated with 911 dispatch that needed to clear before making the budget changes official."
In other discussion, Russell County EMS Director Terry Hancock reported that staff has received four quotes for RC EMS health insurance policies and is still waiting to receive one quote from an additional company.
He said all quotes are higher than the current health insurance through Kentucky Employees Health Plan that expires October of 2011.
Staff is also waiting to receive health insurance information from Russell County Fiscal Court once they have quotes available.
Board members await receipt of all information before making any comments about possible choices but did discuss their thoughts on providing medical coverage for staff.
"Until we've got the numbers in front of us, I'm not going to make no commitment on nothing. I want to see the numbers," said RC Ambulance Board Member Mike Popplewell. "We'll go with the best plan we can get for the money. I want you guys to have the best insurance we can afford."
Leslie Simpson, RC EMS board member, expressed his concern that devoted EMS service people should receive health benefits at no cost to them.
"We've got a lot of hard working people here and they've dedicated their lives to this place," said Simpson. "I think the employees ought to have 100 percent of their insurance paid for because they're exposed to a lot of things and I don't think they should have to pay for (insurance)."
Anticipation of insurance rate increases and concern for paying down debt is driving the decision making process.
"I think the bottom line is how much money you bring in versus how much you're putting out," said JG. "If you're putting out more than your bringing in, something's going to give. You've either got to bring in more money or cut your costs. There's no other way around it."
EMS Board Chairman James Gray said he believes all quotes will show a significant increase in cost and must be reviewed closely to make a fiscally responsible choice.
"I want to see some figures but I wouldn't be too keen on taking on more expenses than what we are now and not being able make some kind of dent toward getting this debt paid off where we can get back on top and get the ambulance service where it needs to be," Gray said.
In other discussion, Hancock gave the EMS board a Russell County LINK Board update regarding progress to identify a system to fund Russell County's 911 Dispatch Service and to possibly combine resources with another county or counties to save money.
"Gary (Robertson, RC judge executive) was (at this month's RC LINK Board meeting) and he talked about the county looking for a regional option as far as dispatch goes," said Hancock. "I think he'd talked to a couple of other counties…looking at how maybe they can join together and make a regional dispatch."
Robertson had been in attendance during the early part of the EMS Board meeting and had to leave early so he wasn't available for further discussion but Hancock elaborated on discussion from the LINK board meeting.
"(At the LINK board meeting) Judge Executive Robertson said (the fiscal court) had talked to Garrard County and that they've done a regional thing there with Lincoln County," said Hancock. "(The LINK board) is just looking at options right now trying to find out what they can do."
Hancock said if counties enter into a regional dispatch service, each county receives $100,000 initial start-up funds per county to purchase new equipment, etc.
In other business:
• Director Hancock and EMS Board Attorney Kevin Shearer presented findings regarding collection agencies they had reviewed in order to collect unpaid debts. The EMS Board voted unanimously to enter into a contract with IC System debt collection agency to attempt to collect delinquent accounts.
• Hancock is looking into the possibility of charging a response fee and is checking with other agencies regarding their response fee charges. He will present his findings at next month's meeting.
• A Paramedic class that had been planned for Russell County is on hold due to a low number of registered participants. The class requires 12 attendees.
• May 15 - 21 is National EMS Week.