County moves ahead with EMS station
With revenues exceeding expectations, the Rutherford County Commission has green-lighted starting the process to construct a new Emergency Medical Services station in the southeast of the county.
The proposed location is in Henrietta near Thomas Jefferson Classical Academy on three acres of land donated to the county.
Kerry Giles, director of transportation for the county, said three of the first six months of the fiscal year experienced higher-than budgeted revenues due to extra Medicaid payments and a billing fees being credited back to the county.
She said that allows the county to move forward with spending dedicated funds to begin the process of planning for the new station.
The county netted $1.3 million in revenue in the first six months of the fiscal year. Additionally, gross revenue in January 2014 was higher due to the addition of a third ambulance handling convalescent care transports. The county received gross revenue of $230,000 but three billing company payments in the month dropped that revenue to $188,553.
Rutherford County Manager Carl Classen said he was comfortable recommending proceeding with the building plan after recommending halting the process six months ago.
Including projections for the remaining six months of the fiscal year, Giles said EMS is expected to use over $100,000 less in general fund transfers for the fiscal year.
“It has saved enough to the point where we can build a station, which was a goal of the County Commission,” Classen said.
Giles said the county has not added a fourth ambulance for convalescent care transports, which will increase bottom line revenue for the year. Additionally, the county is expecting higher revenue in March due to tax garnishments and in May because of a $50,000 expected Medicaid Cost Settlement payment.
Despite the numbers, Commissioner Bo Richard said he was against using funds to plan for a new station because the department has lost nearly $1 million over the last 10 years.
“I can’t see why we are continuing to do this and continuing to lose money,” Richard said.
However, Giles countered by saying research indicates no county EMS department has broken even with revenues and expenses.
Commissioners approved expending $31,000 of the $70,000 budgeted for the year to develop construction documents and prepare a bid packet for potential contractors. Classen said he hopes to have bids ready for Commission review in May.
If and when a new station is built in Henrietta, Giles said there is no additional personnel or vehicle costs associated because the county already has two employees and an ambulance allocated to the Cliffside Fire Department and that crew would be transferred to the new station.
“I’ve seen a lot of temporary sites,” said Commissioner Eddie Holland. “But, a permanent site, which the master plan calls for, will save lives.”
In other business, commissioners:
• heard an update from County Attorney Richard Williams on the Commission guidelines for public comments;
• approved two exemptions from state statute to accept bids for work being conducted at the Daniel Road property for future industrial development;
• approved accepting a $200,000 tax incentive grant for a business retention and expansion project;
• approved submitting a grant up to $100,000 for building re-use and renovation;
• approved budget amendments for February;
• approved the System Safety Program Plan for the county Transit Department;
• heard an update on the county Revenue Department;
• approved advertising the county delinquent tax list in March;
• received an update on the county animal code;
• approved sending legislative goals of continued U.S. 221 expansion and the creation of an Interstate 74 corridor to the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners;
• approved a change in the rules of procedure allowing the Commission Chairman to change time, date, time or location or delay a meeting of the County Commission;
• agreed to place an infrastructure development and expansion revolving loan fund on its agenda for goal-setting.