EMS merger one step closer

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September 10, 2013 - 12:00 AM

While “sticking points” seemed to be the key words regarding the proposed EMS merger during Monday night’s council meeting, County Commissioner Tom Williams seemed confident both entities could work through the issues.
Talks continued between the two groups, in efforts to merge Allen County EMS services with Iola Fire Department to make one ambulance service. Discussions showed that the deal is closer than ever.
“I give you my word that our commission wants this to work,” Williams said to the council.
A motion was eventually passed to move forward with discussions, but not before the council cleared up a few of the points stipulated in the county’s contract. A section in the contract stipulates that if the city forfeits or backs out of the merger agreement within five years, the county has the “option” to take on all EMS services, including the city’s services.
“I don’t think that clause will ever happen,” Williams said. “But, the only way this can work is one service.”
Council member John Wells requested that the same five-year limit be put on the county’s side as well, allowing both entities to review the agreement if neither side can pull off a singular service. Williams reassured the council; the commissioners don’t believe this will happen.
“You all are going to make this work, the fire department is going to make this work,” he said.

UNDER THE revised contract, the county is requiring that the city pay all of the county employees’ accrued vacation and sick leave time when/if a merger happens.
Iola Administrator Carl Slaugh said the city paid accrued vacation time to the county when Allen County took over 911 dispatch in 2010.
“I think the county ought to pay the city,” Slaugh said.
City Clerk Roxanne Hutton said the vacation time’s value is approximately $11,000 and the sick time comes in at $39,000.
Williams responded by saying the commissioners would be willing to look at any options — they would possibly be willing to pay the $11,000 up front. As for the $39,000, he said the city could propose a one-year grace period, only honoring the accrued sick time to the employee after that time.
The council will be sending their amendments to the county commissioners today, for discussion during their meeting.

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