commissioner proposes a $1.4 million investment in the EMS system | News, Sports, Jobs

Times Observer file photo Emergency medical service providers face many challenges in Warren County, from staffing to funding to regulation. Commissioner Jeff Eggleston has proposed a $1.4 million investment in the county’s system which he said is “just one piece of this larger solution.”

Warren County Commissioner Jeff Eggleston has proposed a $1.4 million investment in county emergency medical services.

If this investment goes well, the proposal includes a property tax increase plan dedicated specifically to funding EMS operations.

“Non-profit fire departments with volunteers cannot afford to provide the service,” Eggleston said during Monday’s business session. He said EmergyCare, along with the city of Warren, as the only two fee-paying ambulance services operating in the county, was struggling to hire people.

“If they can’t find people to pay”, Eggleston asked, “how are we going to find people to volunteer?”

The proposal Eggleston made on Monday would allocate $705,000 each of the next two years from the county’s U.S. bailout allocation; $110,000 would be awarded to the City of Warren, with the remaining $595,000 going to projects to advance EMS throughout the county.

“County government making a financial and strategic investment in emergency medical services for the first time would fundamentally change the discussion in the region,” Eggleston suggests in the report, “and perhaps the state by signaling the importance of the issue and that local governments are willing to work together and put ‘skin in the game’.”

“If the program proves to be functional and creates positive results, the commissioners will also commit to subsequently raise county property taxes by 1.5 mils in a special allocation on property owners’ tax bills, substantially separate from general property taxes that citizens pay for the year. government costs, Eggleston wrote.

“The $705,000 figure is not arbitrary because a million in property taxes produces about $470,000 in revenue for the county and 1.5 mils would typically bring in $705,000.”

“The EMS system is on the verge of collapse”, Eggleston said during the working session, proposing the funding as “a kind of assistance in solving the problem.”

“I don’t know what the county’s role should be in this,” said Commissioner Tricia Durbin. “It really should be the municipalities and townships that need the service.

“I don’t know if putting money there is necessarily going to solve the problem.”

“From my point of view, the county could lead on several fronts”, said Eggleston. “If someone doesn’t do something, someone will need service and won’t get it.

He suggested the county investing in the system could attract municipal investment.

“Whether it’s county or municipal tax money, it comes from the same place,” said Eggleston. “It’s to solve a problem that everyone has. I sympathize with a lot of those municipalities that don’t have a lot of resources.

“There is a certain recognition” Durbin added that “Most definitely…I don’t know if our current system is as effective as it could be.”

“EMS is an essential service that needs community support and municipal funding,” Clarendon Borough councilor Paul Pascuzzi said.

Noting that 70% of the county is served by volunteers, Pascuzzi said there is a need to engage with all municipalities “to have a dialogue around support, leadership and funding. It was like keeping cats.

“This is the first time a municipality other than the City of Warren has developed a proposal that has at least some funding basis,” he said of Eggleston’s proposal, suggesting that the city government or the Council of Governments could set up “something like this.”

He described solving this problem at the local level as “mission impossible”.

“The only way to solve this problem is collectively…to come together and find a collective solution.”

Eggleston pointed out that there is “No way to point fingers at anyone about it. It’s everybody’s problem. It is only one part of this larger solution.

“If we wait for the state, we will be in serious trouble”, Pascuzzi pointed out.

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