Language in EMS contract OK’d



September 23, 2014 - 12:00 AM

The light at the end of the EMS negotiations tunnel is shining brighter than ever.
Iola City Council members endorsed Monday language of an amended emergency medical services contract with Allen County.
Council members voted, 7-1, to approve the contract’s language, which increases the county’s subsidy to the city by $250,000 annually, to $1 million per year.
The contract now goes back to the Allen County Commission for its approval.
Since Jan. 1, the city has provided countywide ambulance service, although Council members began to squawk when it became evident the $750,000 subsidy from the county was not enough to make ends meet. Projections are the service will be about $377,000 in the red by Dec. 31.
The Council added a $5 monthly meter charge for all city electric customers through the end of the year to help meet half the shortfall while using utility reserves to meet half the shortfall. The county has offered another $189,000.
The $1 million annual subsidy will be paid first from the receipts from the ambulance runs. If receipts are less than the $1 million benchmark — most expect the number to top out at $750,000 — the county will make up the difference.
The city will continue to provide Type I ambulance service for all of Allen County. Ambulances will continue to be stationed in Iola, Humboldt and Moran.
The amended contract also contains language that may aid the city in reducing overtime costs by allowing the city to use Moran’s or Humboldt’s ambulances as backup when an Iola ambulance is in service instead of bringing in on-call employees.
The “two-in, two-out” practice — necessary because the fire station must have at least four employees available for service at all times to respond to fires — has led to extensive overtime costs.
Utilizing the Moran and Humboldt ambulance crews as backup would not reduce the Type I service in either location, the contract reads.
The amended contract would run through Dec. 31, 2020, and contains a six-month termination clause for each side.
Councilwoman Nancy Ford cast the lone dissenting vote to approve the amended contract’s language.
In a related matter, City Council members voted to hire Tyler Wooten and Spencer Hart as firefighters/EMS personnel.

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