Weston debates support of EMS
Written by CINDY HARTER Sentinel Staff Writer
Friday, 08 June 2012 09:46
WESTON - A lengthy discussion about whether the village should pay the unpaid runs its EMS incurs dominated Monday's Weston Village Council meeting. The Weston EMS is funded by money it receives for runs and by the contracts it holds with those townships that use its service. The Village of Weston pays for the utilities that the EMS incurs at its location in the new firehouse and contributed $30,000 for a new ambulance a few years ago.
"We operate on contract and run monies," EMS Chief Kathy Heyman told council members. "What we are asking for is the unpaid runs to be paid. Ultimately it lies with you."
She said that it is hard for her to contract each year with the townships because they pay for their unpaid runs but the town does not.
Council President Mark Sheffer maintained that it has been a past belief that the village operates the ambulance service and therefore cannot contract with itself. The village owns the ambulance. He also questioned Heyman about the contracts with the townships.
"If things are going up," Sheffer asked, "why are you negotiating the same rate with the townships since 1998?"
"Everybody, including the village should pay the unpaid runs," Heyman said.
Those runs totaled about $6,000 last year. If an EMS run is eventually paid by a patron who originally did not pay, that money would be refunded to the village. She maintains that the service looks on paper like it is doing well, but that she has to come back and ask for money. She would like to buy equipment with some of the money accumulated.
"We have been very fiscally responsible," Heyman said. "We are going ahead and purchasing equipment and spending that money that I have been saving."
Mayor Jason Worthen questioned why the unpaid runs stopped being paid years ago. The consensus was that the practice stopped in about 2001.
"If we are not putting something into the budget for them," Worthen said, "we need to come together and decide how to run our business. Right now as a citizen I wouldn't think we owned it because it is self-sufficient."
Sheffer tried to explain the reason for council's past actions.
"The reason there hasn't been any more appropriations each year is because we see you as doing fine," Sheffer said. "If you are withholding funds and not buying equipment we need to readjust our thinking. We need to come to an agreement that makes sense. I would want to pay unpaid runs instead of an appropriation that way it is justified."
Councilman Shad Kendall said that most of the taxpayers in town would want to pay their fair share.
"That's how I feel," Kendall said.
Councilwoman Tammy McClellan said that the situation is like running your own household.
"You need to put money away so that when there are emergencies you have something," she said.
Kendall then made a motion to have the village "pay their fair share of runs like everyone else."
The motion passed four to one. Councilman Jeff Helberg was absent. The village will pay unpaid runs and the EMS will pay utilities.