Voters handily pass county EMS levy

By David J. Coehrs -

Voters on Tuesday handily approved a replacement 4-mill EMS levy meant to equalize funding among Fulton County’s seven emergency stations and add an eighth, central station to provide mutual aid to the county’s northern communities.

However, not everyone is satisfied with the proposed disbursement of the funds.

The five-year levy passed 2,112-1175, according to unofficial results recorded by the Fulton County Board of Elections. The majority of precincts records more yes votes.

The levy will generate $4.5 million annually beginning Jan. 1, 2022, replacing the current contract between the county’s EMS entities and its commissioners, which expires at year’s end.

The revised plan will annually allot $750,000 each to EMS services in Delta, Archbold, and Swanton for full ALS services using a minimum of one paramedic and one EMT. EMS locations in Fayette, Metamora, and Lyons will receive $450,000 annually, paying for a 24-hour paramedic and a 12-hour EMT at each location

Through negotiations, a Wauseon/Clinton Township EMS station agreed to receive a lesser amount of $650,000 annually for full ALS services provided it could remain responsible for its own billing and supplies.

The newly-created eighth EMS station, dubbed Central Station, will receive $375,000 annually and will be constructed near the Fulton County Airport in Dover Township.

The levy replaces two current 2-mill levies and generates additional revenue.

Proposed nine months ago, the revised EMS plan initially met with some resistance among the county’s EMS entities. Before continued negotiations, stations covering Wauseon/Clinton Township and Dover and Gorham townships had threatened to separate from their county contracts and act independently.

Gorham Township Trustee Trevor Hibbard believes the levy’s passage is important but can’t understand why the county’s southern EMS entities are each receiving $300,000 more for one 12-hour EMT shift per day.

“They’re getting $750,000 and we’re getting $450,000, and the only difference is one EMT for 12-hours a day,” he said. And I’d like that explained, how (the county commissioners) came up with that figure. I don’t understand why the money can’t be more evenly distributed, and all the entities work together.”

He said the discrepancy will allow the county’s southern EMS entities to pay higher wages, “and we won’t be able to compete, so I feel we’re kind of being set up for failure.”

Hibbard said the commissioners based the higher allotment for those EMS entities on their higher numbers of emergency calls. “(But) it’s a fixed cost,” he argued. “You can have 300 calls or 200 calls – it’s going to cost you the same to staff. And that’s what they’re not giving credit for.”

He also argued that emergency calls to Gorham Township’s EMS station have increased significantly.

Hibbard said when he complained about the unequal disbursement of EMS funds, a Fulton County Commissioner responded, “That’s the way it is.”

He suggests allotting $600,000 to each county EMS entity. “I think it’s important that we get some of this stuff resolved. It’s time they justify the money and do the right thing,” he said.

Fulton County EMS Coordinator Clayton O’Brien did not return a call for comment.

By David J. Coehrs

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.

Reach David J. Coehrs at 419-335-2010.