Commonwealth Journal

Local News

May 9, 2013

EMS deficit is projected at $585,000 for coming fiscal year

System could lose some Medicaid funds

Somerset —

City officials are projecting another significant shortfall for Somerset-Pulaski County EMS in the upcoming fiscal year, and although a new contract be-tween the city and county is still up in the air, they’re empha-sizing that EMS service won’t suffer for it.
“We’re very proud of EMS and the level of service for the city and county,” said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler during a Monday budget workshop meeting. “I don’t think anybody goes to sleep at night wondering whether or not they’re going to be provided service.”
Tentative budget numbers for a number of city departments, including EMS, were presented during the meeting. Before officials dove into the EMS numbers, Girdler told the councilors that he, after speaking with Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese and Pulaski County Attorney Martin Hatfield, decided to adopt the original 1995 interlocal agreement — termi-nated by the council in March over a disagreement with county officials on who was to cover a $982,907 shortfall in the current fiscal year.
“I’ve decided the best way to approach this is to live with the current contract we have with the county,” said Girdler. Girdler’s words echoed an announcement he released last week about the situation. 
Girdler said he had “extensive discussions” with Hatfield and Wiese, and he thanked Hatfield for his help with the situation, saying the county attorney had been “extremely helpful.”
But Girdler stated that he had yet to hear a formal response from the county. 
A call placed late Wednesday afternoon to Pulaski County Judge-executive Barty Bullock and Hatfield were not returned by press time. 
The disagreement began in January after city officials asked that the county cover the shortfall. Questions were raised about who was to cover what in regards to EMS operations — guidelines of which were established through the 1995 agreement. As per the agreement, the county had provided around $1.2 million yearly to EMS from occupational tax revenue. As “overseer” of EMS, the city provided additional funding and managed the operations of EMS. The agreement also stated that additional occupational tax funds would need to cover “unanticipated” shortfalls in the EMS budget. 

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