A revised emergency medical services plan proposed by the Fulton County Commissioners to resolve complaints of under-funding by the county’s EMS entities will be placed next week in the hands of voters.
The upcoming May 4 ballot will include a five-year, 4-mill countywide replacement levy for providing EMS operations after current contracts between the county’s commissioners and seven EMS stations expire Dec. 31. The levy would generate approximately $4.5 million annually for the stations and allow for the creation of an eighth, centrally-located station to provide back-up mutual aid to the county’s northern section.
The revised county plan offers EMS services in Delta, Archbold and Swanton $750,000 each per year for full ALS services using a minimum of one paramedic and one emergency medical technician (EMT). EMS services located in Fayette, Lyons, and Metamora would each get $450,000 annually, paying for a 24-hour paramedic and a 12-hour EMT at each location. The lesser amount would still cover the stations’ operational costs.
Per its request during negotiations, the Wauseon/Clinton Township EMS station would receive $650,000 annually for full ALS services. Getting less funding than each of the county’s other largest EMS services would permit Wauseon’s demand to remain responsible for its own billing and supplies.
The new EMS location, dubbed Central Station, would be built near the Fulton County Airport in Dover Township and would be allotted $375,000 annually for full ALS services that would offer mutual aid back-up in the county’s northern communities.
The levy would replace two current 2-mill levies and generate additional revenue. If passed, it would cost a $100,000 property an additional $28.93, from $111.07 to $140.
Under the revised agreement, all of the county’s EMS entities would remain under separate contracts with the Fulton County Commissioners but each would have to submit documentation at least once a year proving they supplied the staffing their individual contracts stipulate.
When proposed last August by County EMS Coordinator Clayton O’Brien, the revised EMS plan was initially met with protest or skepticism by some county officials. The controversy led the EMS entities attached to the City of Wauseon and Clinton, Dover, and Gorham townships to consider leaving their county contracts and acting independently.
Further discussions led to an agreement in January between all parties.
“We agreed that the best thing for the citizens was to have a countywide levy,” Wauseon Fire Chief Rick Sluder said. “The outline the county laid out is the way we want to move forward.”
Dover Township Trustee Larry Burkholder said the addition of a central EMS station “should help to even things out a little bit, to be able to bolster what’s going on in the northern tier. I think the EMS levy needs to continue on. The commissioners worked out a good plan.”
In Swanton, Fire Chief Tony Schaffer agreed. “I think the modifications to the current contract, the current system, will be beneficial to the citizens of the county…They’ll be positive enhancements to the current service we provide. It will be an improvement,” he said.
Gorham Township Trustee Trevor Hibbard declined comment. O’Brien did not respond to requests for comment.
Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.