In a story exclusively found in the Informer last week, the Adams County Commissioners told local officials over the past ten days that they would be ending the longstanding contract with the Villages of Manchester and West Union at the end of 2021. Instead, the Board of Commissioners will now be overseeing a county-wide emergency medical service.
In a news release received on Thursday, the Commissioners said that making Adams County EMS one overall organization again was not an easy decision. It is unclear when the Board previously had a county-wide system in place before, as all local EMS services were handled by their respective communities prior to 2009, with the funding coming from the county-wide EMS levy and distributed by the Commissioners. “The decision to make Adams County EMS one overall organization again was not an easy decision. The conclusion to terminate agreements was mainly due to loss of revenues from the DP&L closure in June of 2018. The Adams County EMS levy suffered a loss of over $500,000.00 in revenues due to the closure, while the Village contracts have remained consistent. Recently, both mayors of West Union and Manchester have met with the Board to request additional funding for their respective EMS departments. The mayors were informed of the financial situation due to the DP&L closure, how the County paid for 9-1-1, and all the Auditor and Treasurer fees with no assistance from the villages,” said the Commissioners.
The Commissioners also took exception to a recent invoice from the West Union Life Squad totaling $81,717.46 for the medical transport of prisoners. “To add to the additional loss of revenue, West Union Life Squad has transported several jail inmates and the Sheriff’s Office received invoices totaling $81,717.46, which had to be paid with County tax dollars. Manchester Life Squad also transported jail inmates at a cost of $1,948.20. This caused an exorbitant burden on the County’s budget which has also suffered a loss of over $1 million dollars annually due to the closure of DP&L. Research showed that inmates from other Ohio counties were transported at a contract cost of $40.00 to $200.00 per run. The County’s projected savings of over $74,465.66 will be realized if contracted at the highest amount of $200.00 per run with Adams County EMS.
The County recently dispersed nearly $40,000.00 in CARES funding to West Union Life Squad to assist them with expenses incurred during the COVID pandemic. The West Union Village Council did not request the $189,450.61 of federal CARES funding available to them in 2020, yet the County felt they should assist them with COVID expenses. Manchester Village did utilize the CARES funding for their EMS. Adams County EMS has made multiple runs to the West Union area during the past year providing “mutual aid” assistance at no additional cost to West Union.”
West Union Councilwoman Donna Young said she strongly disagrees with the assertions made by the Commissioners and is worried about the health and safety of the community. “The Board of Adams County Commissioners continue to try to hide the fact that nearly 40% of tax dollars generated from the West Union service area goes to where the three commissioners live,” said Young. Young continued, “the Village is grateful that they finally paid their outstanding bill for the care of prisoners that has been left unpaid for years. Village residents and the Village’s general fund shouldn’t have to foot the bill for inmates from all over God’s green earth when the inmate court fines and fees go to the county,” said Young.
“Medical emergencies happen every day and the Village of West Union is proud of our staff and volunteers who continue to offer high quality medical care and transportation. They work so hard and I’m really afraid that lives will be lost because of this overreach,” Young said.
Young also said that she is extremely displeased with the level of spending that she is seeing from the Commissioners. “Don’t be fooled by this taxpayer funded shopping spree by the Commissioners. Buying new buildings with shiny new bronze plaques engraved with theirs names and purchasing new squads when the resources are already here is a disgrace to our community. Further, when will they stop using the DP&L power plant closure as an excuse, when their budgets show they are flush with cash?,” asked Young.
The Adams County Commissioners also said that their employees will be paid a living wage and have offered employment to the existing EMS employees into the county system. “The EMS employees of West Union and Manchester have been offered the opportunity to transition to employees of Adams County EMS and will be paid at a rate of $13.00 per hour for “Basics”, $14.00 per hour for “Advanced”, and $15.00 per hour for “Paramedics” with health insurance, life insurance, and retirement benefits should they decide to transition to Adams County EMS. West Union Life Squad employees are paid on a shift-by-shift basis at a rate we believe is below minimum wage. The Board does not know how Manchester employees are paid. The desire of the Adams County Board of Commissioners is to pay employees a reasonable rate plus provide benefits for provision of quality EMS care and services,” said the Commissioners.
The Commissioners concluded, “This decision was made to ensure that we are providing the highest quality of care in the most efficient way while being good stewards of tax levy dollars. A unified county EMS will save county tax dollars, provide fair and equal pay for EMS employees in the county, and efficiently provide essential services to our constituents.”
The contract will end with Manchester and West Union on 12/31/21, and all calls for assistance will be dispatched to Adams County EMS at that time.