Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler said the city is glad to allow the county to take over EMS operations.
“They’ve indicated they have a few better ideas than we do, and that’s great,” said Girdler. “We’ll transition the best way we can.”
The councilors expressed some surprise at fiscal court’s reluctance to cover the shortfall. Magistrates stated on Friday they hadn’t received enough information on the shortfall to provide the money, and Pulaski County Judge-executive Barty Bullock said he’d been advised by the state auditor’s office and KACO that more proof needed to be provided to warrant the payment.
“We go down there and everything’s good, we come back here and it’s not good,” said Ward 3 Councilor Jerry Wheeldon. “They don’t come up here and tell us that. They don’t tell us nothing. So let’s pass this and go on.”
The council unanimously passed the resolution.
In a related move on Monday, the council also unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance that would establish a city occupational tax to be levied against the county tax. That doesn’t mean additional taxes for anyone. The city will be claiming a larger portion of the occupational tax revenue than it already does.
“The purpose of the occupational tax is to deal with the EMS issue, to divide up the pot, that’s all we’re doing,” said Girdler.
Ward 1 Councilor Jim Rutherford said the idea of a city occupational tax goes against his thoughts that governments should intrude as little as possible in citizens’ lives, but he said the establishment of a city tax — with no additional cost to the taxpayers — is necessary in the face of the EMS issue.
“We’ve always been reasonable with the county in regards for EMS ... we’ve always been fluid when working with each other and I hope we continue to do so,” said Rutherford. “But when it gets down to it we have to protect our citizens and we have to protect their money.
“As much as it’s distasteful for me to enact a tax of our own, and to me that just means more government ... it’s just another intrusion we have to give our citizens. It’s not going to be any more expensive, but it’s still an intrusion. It’s a necessary intrusion.”
Look to upcoming Commonwealth Journal articles for a more in-depth look at the situation.