The Board of County Commissioners told village officials in West Union and Manchester that it would not renew the contract that pays $120,000 per year for the local jurisdiction to provide emergency medical services to the residents of their respective service areas.
In a letter dated September 20, 2021, the Commissioners said that Adams County EMS will now provide 100% county-wide services. “As per the contract, this serves as official notice of our intent not to renew the contract and inform you that the County will begin providing EMS services throughout the entire county, effective January 1, 2022,” the letter stated.
The move brought a swift rebuke from the Village of West Union. In a statement released last week, the Village of West Union accused the Commissioners of overreach saying their “decision will cost lives.”
“Earlier this week, the Village of West Union learned that Commissioner Ty Pell (Peebles), T. Diane Ward (Peebles), and Barbara Moore (Winchester) voted not to renew the long-standing EMS contract with the Village, resulting in the take-over of services from West Union EMS to Adams County EMS. In this stunning overreach, the Board of County Commissioners have forgotten local control should always come first. For over a decade, the Village has had a contractional agreement to provide these services for $120,000 per year.”
The village also accused the county of sending nearly 40% of the EMS tax revenue generated by the West Union service area to the northern portion of Adams County. “Since the commencement of the 2018 tax levy, nearly 40% of the tax dollars generated from our citizens and surrounding townships have been spent in other parts of the county, primarily in the northern part. In recent meetings, the Village has pleaded that after a decade of no substantial increases, it was time to increase the contractual amount, due to the rising cost of emergency medication, and critical medical services from the COVID-19 pandemic and the opioid epidemic,” the statement continued.
The village also accused the Commissioners of failing to meet the needs of Adams County residents that are currently being served by Adams County EMS. “For years, the people of Liberty, Tiffin, Brush Creek, and Jefferson Townships along with the Village of West Union have been paying to subsidize a fundamentally weak county EMS system. The Adams County EMS system has failed at recruiting new personnel, failed at making timely runs, and failed at even figuring out a proper management system. Now they want to expand their shortcomings to the West Union EMS service area.”
The village also said that they are working with their legal team to protect the citizens of West Union from what they call “an abusive power grab.” “We fear that their decision will cost people their lives,” concluded the Village of West Union.
Commissioner Ty Pell, in a written statement said a county-wide takeover was the only way forward. “We, as a Board decided that the contracted services with the Village of West Union and the Village of Manchester were no longer sustainable and the only way to give fair and timely services to all citizens of Adams County is to provide a county-wide EMS as the voters of Adams County passed and continue to pass through levies.”
The Commissioners have also extended the offer of employment to the Village EMS employees with an opportunity to transition to the County EMS service. Pell said at the end of the day, the goal of the Commissioners is to provide EMS services to the people that pick up their phone and dial 911. “They expect someone to be there,” said Pell.
The contracts with the county and two villages were first executed in 2009, after a state audit found that several local EMS associations in Adams County were mishandling funds. The Commissioners at the time formed a county-wide system and then provided carveouts to communities who wanted to keep control of their services.
Officials from the Village of Manchester are expected to meet with the Commissioners this week (Week of 9/27/2021) .