County: More info before more OL funds
A simple question during “unfinished business” turned into the most extensive conversation of the recent meeting of the Putnam County Commissioners.
Having discussed funding issues for Putnam County Operation during their April 3 meeting, the commissioners had not revisited the issue.
Commissioner Rick Woodall, who serves on the OL board, asked if a decision had been made regarding the source of $202,000 OL Executive Director E.J. Claflin requested back in early April.
Sources discussed in April included the Economic Development Income Tax War Chest, the Hazardous Materials Fund and the Public Safety Local Option Income Tax.
Determining the funding source depends on the availability of funds in each of the three sources.
The $202,000 requested in April includes $137,000 to fund an additional crew and return OL to three ambulances full-time. The other $65,000 is to get another ambulance operational again.
After an OL vehicle collided with a Putnam County Sheriff’s Department SUV in November, insurance paid $83,000, and the $65,000 will go toward fully replacing the ambulance.
This is in addition to the $80,000 in annual funding OL receives from the Hazardous Waste Fund.
The commissioners expressed on Monday that they have other questions before approval.
Woodall said that at the most recent OL board meeting, he told administrators they need a solid plan for what kind of funding the ambulance service needs moving forward. With STAR Ambulance recently opening a Greencastle station, the commissioner believes there will be competition for the county 911 contract in 2018.
“I’m certain — now that there’s another ambulance service here in town — that they will bid on it,” Woodall said.
Fellow commissioner David Berry has questions about right now, not next year.
“I’d like definitive numbers on how severely understaffed they are,” Berry said, “and how much better this will help them serve the county.”
At this point, other county officials at the meeting interjected some thoughts as well.
STAR moved into the Greencastle market when OL stopped regularly doing transports for Putnam County Hospital, a fact noted by County Councilman Larry Parker.
“I don’t understand,” Parker said, “if you do less, why you need more money?”
Sheriff Scott Stockton noted that the Putnam County Jail is now working with STAR rather than Operation Life for transports of sick or injured inmates.
Stockton noted that on average, the county was paying $480.96 per transfer to OL after Medicare and Medicaid reductions.
STAR is transported the inmates for $217 before Medicare or Medicaid.
With no OL representative at the meeting, the conversation became one-sided, but that should not be the case during the Monday, May 15 meeting, when Claflin will be present and the commissioners plan to make a decision.
The meeting is slated for 9 a.m. on the first floor of the Putnam County Courthouse.