Commonwealth Journal

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May 4, 2013

City, county come to terms on EMS dilemma

Somerset —

City and county officials may be mending their fences, at least temporarily, as they work toward a more permanent solution to a disagreement over EMS funding sources.
Somerset Mayor Eddie Girdler through a press release last week announced that facets of a 1995 interlocal agreement that had established funding sources for Somerset-Pulaski County EMS will be kept in place while the city and county work toward an updated agreement. 
That means the city will continue to provide EMS service in the county after June 30, 2013 — the deadline provided by the city for the county to move toward its own EMS service should a new agreement not be locked in. 
“ ... the continuation of the finest quality EMS system is essential to the citizens of Somerset and ... county residents deserve the same level of service,” stated Girdler in the press release.
Girdler had informed Pulaski County Judge-executive Barty Bullock and other county officials on April 15 that the city was prepared to provide EMS service inside Somerset, leaving the county in the position of establishing its own service. 
Girdler had emphasized in city council and city budget workshop meetings that the June 30 date had been a “formality,” provided just in the event that a new agreement isn’t reached. The agreement the entities now intend to adhere to — the 1995 interlocal agreement — had been terminated in March by Somerset City Council following several months of disagreements over who should cover an apparent shortfall in the EMS revenue. Those disagreements began in January when Girdler announced that EMS had finished fiscal year 2012 in the red.
Pulaski County Fiscal Court had initially been reluctant to provide the $982,907 needed to cover the shortfall, as requested by city officials, resulting in city council’s termination of the original agreement. 
But it wasn’t long after that when the county began the process of securing those funds after obtaining financial documents from the city. Bullock in March informed city officials that the county was in the process of securing the funds. 

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