In a regular session on Feb. 7, the Delaware County Board of Commissioners approved the formation of the Delaware County Pre-Hospitalization Care System Board and suspended the controversial emergency medical services (EMS) proposal sent to Liberty Township in November 2018.
The commissioners approved the actions based on the work of an informal group of EMS professionals, which seeks to move the county toward a collaborative direction.
However, Liberty Township Trustee Melanie Leneghan requested two resolutions be added to the trustees’ regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday that was not on the agenda.
The first resolution proposed a 10-year contract in which Delaware County would support Liberty Township EMS by paying the township $1 million a year over the length of the contract.
“Whereas, in light of the fact that Delaware County operates a countywide EMS department funded by sales tax revenue … acknowledgement that it would cost the county $750,000 annually to provide EMS services to Liberty Township, and in light of the estimated $1,000,000 that it costs the County to operate one Delaware County EMS station … and in light of the county’s recent withdrawal to provide EMS services to Liberty Township while the county provides EMS services completely to thirteen of its townships,” the preamble of the resolution states.
The second half of the resolution lays out two conditions of the contract:
“1) The County agrees that DelComm (Delaware County Emergency Communications) will oversee Liberty Township’s run cards and assure the township that the fastest/closest medical vehicle and any other necessary vehicles equipped to assist will be dispatched … 2) The county agrees to provide $1,000,000 of funding to the Township on an annual basis to be paid in four equal quarterly payments designated to fund EMS services …,” the resolution states.
Before the resolution underwent a vote, Trustee Shyra Eichhorn agreed that conversations need to happen with the county about EMS reimbursements.
Based on what she took from the Feb. 7 commissioners meeting, Eichhorn said, “One of the things was patient care first, then we’ll talk about dollars second. I do think the commissioners are going to be open to that discussion, but I think they are waiting for (the Pre-Hospitalization Care System Board) to be finished because I think they want to look at the county as a whole.”
Eichhorn added as the commissioners move forward, she believes the reimbursement will be adjusted based on the Pre-Hospitalization Board’s recommendations. She suggested a gentler approach be taken in the matter.
Leneghan said the proposal was not a demand, but a proposal to enter into a contract with the county. She said she thought $1 million was a “drastically reduced number from what it would cost” the county to operate two more stations.
“If they were to come in here and provide service to us — which they have to by-the-way, it’s not an option — at the end of the day it would probably cost them closer to $2 million then it would $750,000,” she said. “I think we’ve been treated unfairly long enough. Give us our due share.”
Leneghan stated that the Pre-Hospitalization Board is working on patient care and that the proposal was business between the trustees and commissioners.
“I’m ruling or deciding for Liberty Township, and I think this is a very fair offer,” said Trustee Michael Gemperline. “I think it would be good to put it in their hands so that they can accept it, reject it or amend it.”
Leneghan and Gemperline approved sending the contract proposal to the commissioners, while Eichhorn voted against it.
With the passage of the first resolution, Leneghan moved to table the second resolution, which was never read aloud during the meeting.
The tabled resolution sought to immediately “replace the township’s fire department provided EMS with Delaware County EMS.”
“Whereas, Delaware County is obligated to provide emergency medical services to county residents, and whereas, Liberty Township residents currently pay for County provided services through the county sales tax. … therefore be it resolved by the board of trustees … to direct Delaware County to provide emergency medical services to the residents of Liberty Township and the City of Powell,” the tabled resolution states.
Before going into a closed-door executive session, Eichhorn motioned for a resolution stating Liberty Township Fire Department’s EMS is the primary providers of the service to the township.
“So we can send a message to our guys tonight that we are behind them even while we’re working through this contact,” she said.
The motion failed to receive a second.
“Essentially, that’s saying the sun is going to rise tomorrow, because they are our primary EMS provider,” Gemperline said.
“We are fully behind our staff,” Leneghan said. “We’re not going to pass a resolution saying they are our primary supplier. They already are. I’m trying to get some funding for them. It’s like we’re behind them, but we don’t want to get them the money coming to them.”
After the public session, Gemperline was asked about the tabled resolution replacing the township’s EMS.
“It needs to be there,” he said. “We need some leverage to show that we are serious that they need to give us some money.”
Contact D. Anthony Botkin at 740-413-0902. Follow him on Twitter @dabotkin.