Commonwealth Journal

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January 19, 2013

City gives county deadline for EMS payment

Somerset —  

City officials are ready for the county to show them the money. 
Somerset City Council during Monday’s meeting voted unanimously to pass a resolution allowing the city to advance more than $1 million to help fund a Somerset-Pulaski County EMS shortfall.
The resolution also states that the city will give Pulaski County government until March 1 to put up the funds before pursuing other solutions to the problem. 
“86 percent of EMS runs are outside the city and only 14 percent is in the city,” said Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler, after the council returned from an executive session that was closed to the public. “But the city council feels it’s a critical program.
“ ... To make sure we have service while we negotiate the payment ... we’re advancing EMS $1.3 million,” added Girdler. 
City officials suggested earlier this month that major changes to EMS funding are necessary. Girdler said changes to Medicaid, Medicare and private insurance coverage has led to many EMS bills being unpaid. Those unpaid bills led to a loss of around $970,000 on the city’s checkbooks by the close of the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which ended in June. 
Mayor Girdler had met with Pulaski County Judge-executive Barty Bullock about the city possible claiming its own portion of the occupational tax — which funds a significant portion of the county’s budget — in order to solve the shortfall. However, Girdler said that option wouldn’t come into play until some time in the future, and he had stated to the Commonwealth Journal that funding EMS and avoiding service interruption would be the city’s first priority.
Although only estimates exist as to what portion of the occupational tax would go to the city, numbers have been put at 55 percent to 65 percent of the pie — and that would depend on which employers are located in the city limits. 

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