Commonwealth Journal

Local News

April 21, 2013

EMS losing life support

Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler officially withdrawing city from joint system to start new Somerset ambulance service

Somerset —

It appears the county and city may part ways over the Somerset-Pulaski County EMS operations, unless new negotiations take place within the next two months.
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler, in an April 15 letter addressed to Pulaski County Judge-Executive Barty Bullock, states that the city intends to provide EMS service to residents inside the city limits beginning June 30, 2013. That means the county will be in a position to establish its own EMS service outside the corporate limits of Somerset. 
“We’re prepared (to do our own EMS service) if we need to,” said Bullock on Friday, although he noted that he hadn’t yet been able to discuss the issue — including new negotiations with the city — with county magistrates.
Bullock said they’ll most likely discuss the EMS issue during Tuesday’s Pulaski County Fiscal Court meeting. 
Girdler’s letter follows an earlier letter from Bullock, one in which Bullock informed city officials that the county was in the process of securing the $982,907 needed to cover a budget shortfall in the EMS budget, which the city had been covering. Funding for EMS had been established through a 1995 interlocal agreement between the two entities. The county provides around $1.2 million yearly to EMS from occupational tax revenue. As “overseer” of EMS, the city provides additional funding and manages the operations of EMS. The agreement also stated that additional occupational tax funds would need to cover “unanticipated” shortfalls in the EMS budget. 
Girdler in January announced that EMS had finished fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30, 2012, in the red. Now, the county is undergoing the process of securing the bonds to cover the shortfall.
But that still leaves the question of the nature of EMS service. The 1995 agreement was terminated by Somerset City Council in March after fiscal court expressed an initial reluctance to pay the shortfall due to what they said was a lack of documentation. Therefore, new agreements need to be drawn up. 

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