Commonwealth Journal

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April 1, 2013

Bullock: County will pay for EMS shortfall

Somerset —  

An olive branch has been extended in the disagreement between city and county officials over EMS funds. 
A cordial letter from Pulaski County Judge-executive Barty Bullock addressed to Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler states that the county is taking steps to provide the city with nearly $1 million to help cover a shortfall in the Somerset-Pulaski County EMS budget. 
“ ... I am happy to report that based on the approval of Fiscal Court last month, we are in the process of obtaining funding ... in the amount of $982,907 to reimburse the City pursuant to the terms of the 1995 Inter-Local Agreement for these unanticipated/unbudgeted expenses and unanticipated revenue shortfalls incurred by Somerset-Pulaski County EMS for 2012, 2011 and 2012, which have been paid by the City of Somerset,” states Bullock in his letter.
The 1995 agreement — which the Somerset City Council in March voted to terminate after fiscal court expressed a reluctance to pay the shortfall due to what they said was a lack of documentation — established which entity oversaw EMS operations. The agreement also established funding sources for EMS — something that has been in question since January.
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler in January announced that EMS had finished fiscal year 2012, which ended June 30, 2012, in the red. City officials are saying the shortfall is around $982,000 — and that’s not including the running shortfall to the current fiscal year.
Both Girdler and Acting Somerset-Pulaski County EMS Chief Billy Duncan have said changes to Medicaid and Medicare reimbursement have led to the shortfall — even with an 86 percent collection rate. 
“It (the shortfall) has just been adding up and adding up and adding up,” Duncan said in a March 16 Commonwealth Journal article.
The city turned to county officials for help covering that shortfall and pointed out the 1995 agreement called for the county to cover any unanticipated shortfall with additional occupational tax money. 

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