- Special Sections
- Public Notices
INDEPENDENCE — The sirens of Galax-Grayson Emergency Medical Service will continue to sound in Grayson County after the board of supervisors voted to provide $20,000 to the regional ambulance service.
Citing a significant lack of transport calls — from which the department makes the majority of its revenue — the EMS that serves both Grayson and Galax called upon both localities to provide funding during the 2010-11 fiscal year.
The EMS had been financially self-sufficient for years, never needing funding from either locality it served. But, the reduction in calls created the need this year.
Grayson County Assistant County Administrator Mitch Smith, who serves on the board of directors for the EMS, said the board challenged EMS Chief Ron Passmore to do everything he could in the budget to make up for the lack of funding.
“We are being as efficient as possible, and we feel as a board that he’s done [what we asked],” Smith told the supervisors earlier this month. “We’ve tried as a board to make it as long as we could without asking for money… We’ve looked at every place and spent all funding set aside.”
Hoping that the requested $20,000 was a one-time deal, Smith said he’s surprised the EMS has made it this long without needing funding.
In a letter to the county, Passmore explained that the amount was calculated using a formula described in the GGEMS Joint Services Agreement, which mandates Grayson pay 40 percent and Galax pay 60.
“It’s a 60/40 split, and that’s our 40 percent,” Smith said, noting that the percentage could change next year, as Grayson County is receiving more calls than when the agreement was first written.
Supervisor Joe Vaughan, who also serves on the EMS board, said multiple cuts to the budget have been made, including letting some full-time employees go and filling shifts with part-timers.
The letter from Passmore cites a section of the agreement called “Responsibility for Funds/Allocations of Financial Responsibility.”
According to the document, should revenue prove insufficient, any public funding shall be in proportion to the number of EMS calls responded to by GGEMS within the member jurisdictions over the previous fiscal year.”
Though the county had previously budgeted for an amount to be paid to the department, Galax-Grayson EMS hasn’t required any local contribution in the five years immediately preceding the execution of the agreement.
The department has been entirely financially self-sufficient and has reimbursed the fiscal agent for all expenditures made on its behalf.
“Transport calls are the problem,” Smith continued.
Vaughan agreed, noting that even hospitals, such as Twin County Regional in Galax, are struggling and doing everything possible to keep patients – and their money – there.
Supervisor Mike Maynard questioned if the county had $20,000 to provide the funding.
County Administrator Jonathan Sweet said his staff has identified a line item the money could be transferred from. He recommended that a similar amount be budgeted next year for a payment, if needed.
With no further comments, Maynard motioned to transfer the $20,000 to the department. The motion was seconded by Vaughan and passed unanimously.