County-wide EMS cost per city

Bob Cox | review review

WAYNETOWN — At least one local town has grown increasingly alarmed by how county officials plan to pay for upcoming countywide ambulance service.

The county’s plan is to fund the service with a county tax levy. To obtain this new amount of levy, the county council must file an appeal with the State for an excess levy.

At the invitation of Waynetown City Council, Montgomery County Administrator Tom Klein discussed the topic of EMS and the planned tax increase on Wednesday. He explained the process used by county commissioners to arrive and accept an offer from the town of Crawfordsville.

However, Waynetown Volunteer Fire Chief Phil Pirtle expressed concern, after it was reported that Union Township was allowed to keep its EMS contract with the city. Klein said the exact amount Union Township pays for EMS is unknown. However, the township is budgeting $400,000 for its fire departments.

“I understand that we need it, but I don’t understand how the biggest township, which has the most ambulance calls, can choose not to pay their end of the bill,” Pirtle said. “It seems very unfair to the rest of the county.”

Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Fulwider said there were several layers to the contract between Union Township and the city and that the contract was a multi-year deal.

“Our offer is for the remaining townships outside the Union,” Fulwider said. “If we included Union Township, the city would need more money to provide service to all townships.”

Waynetown Clerk Treasurer Sandy Proctor also expressed concern. She asked if the new tax levy would affect the city’s general fund.

Fulwider said the new excess tax levy would not affect funds paid to tax entities due to the council’s action to appeal the excess tax levy. Fulwider said the state should approve the request because the county is adding a new benefit for residents.

Pirtle added that he was concerned about the lack of communication between county officials and volunteer firefighters and administrators.

Klein said the county is trying to contact all volunteer fire departments and administrators to let them know about EMS and funding plans.

A subcommittee of county officials continues to negotiate with Crawfordsville to finalize services to be provided. Once completed, county officials will know the total county-wide cost of EMS. It is estimated between $900,000 and $1 million annually.

The commissioners hope to have an agreement approved with the city at their September 26 meeting.

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