Commonwealth Journal

Local News

February 5, 2013

County, city come to terms on EMS flap


Somerset —

Bullock stressed that the occupational tax rate won’t be changing for anyone in the county, and that this is being done with no cost to taxpayers, businesses or workers. The biggest changes will be seen by government officials themselves.
“We’re going to look at redoing that the give the city a little bit more (money) to do things like operate the EMS service, which is essential services that we have to have for everyone in the county,” said Bullock. “I think their (EMS) budget is about maybe a little over $4 million annually. The last couple years, they’ve come up with a shortfall. ... We can’t cut that service, so we’ve got to look at some different funding methods to make sure that service is kept up.”
The city council passed a resolution in January advancing EMS $1.3 million to help that problem. Girdler said that as part of the agreement, a figure of about $1 million will be refunded to the city to help eat that cost.
“We dealt first of all with the issue of how much money (the county) owed us from the 1995 agreement,” said Girdler. “Even though we think it’s way beyond that, we’re thinking we’ll ask for about a million dollars. ... That’s only what they owe us now, not the future. 
“The (previous) contract said that any revenue shortfall we experience will be dealt with through the occupational tax or through the fiscal court,” he added. “So currently, that shortfall is more than a million dollars, but they’ve agreed that the amount owed under the contract is valid, and we’re willing to adjust that somewhat to approximately $1 million.”
Girdler said his focus right now is being reimbursed by the county, and “once that is settled ... then the other part of that is how we go forward, because that will only cover the current shortfall.” Girdler said it’s a serious problem, more for the county than the city because Somerset has no jurisdiction outside city limits. 

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