Government

County-wide EMS cost concerns town

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WAYNETOWN — At least one local town has become increasingly alarmed over how county officials plan to pay for the coming county-wide ambulance service.

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

At the invitation of the Waynetown Town Council, Montgomery County Administrator Tom Klein discussed the topic of EMS and the anticipated tax increase on Wednesday. He explained the process county commissioners used to arrive at and to accept a bid from the city of Crawfordsville.

However, Waynetown Volunteer Fire Chief Phil Pirtle expressed concern, after it was reported that Union Township was being allowed to retain its EMS contract with the city. Klein said the exact amount Union Township is paying for EMS is unknown. However, the township does budget $400,000 for its fire services.

“I understand we need this, but I don’t understand how the largest township, which has the most ambulance calls, can opt out of paying their part of the bill,” Pirtle said. “It seems very unfair to the rest of the county.”

Montgomery County Commissioner Jim Fulwider said there are multiple layers in the contract between Union Township and the city and the contract is a multi-year agreement.

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

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

Fulwider said the new excess tax levy would not affect funds disbursed to tax entities because of 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 he was concerned that communication between county officials and the volunteer fire departments and trustees has been lacking.

Klein said the county is attempting to contact all volunteer fire departments and trustees to notify them of the EMS and funding plans.

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

Commissioners hope to have an agreement with the city approved at their Sept. 26 meeting.

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