Archived Story

EMS responds to tough budget constraints

Published 9:30am Friday, January 4, 2013

Changes could save at least $100,000


Restructuring its hierarchy so supervisors do double duty is the Lawrence County Emergency Medical Services’ answer to the budget belt-tightening initiated by the Lawrence County Commissioners.

A week before Christmas the commissioners approved a 2013 budget that instituted a 23.5 percent across-the-board cut in salaries. The EMS has been allotted $1 million, all from the ½ percent sales tax, to run its service for this year, the same amount it received in 2012.

However that year the EMS went back to the commission to get an additional $155,000 appropriation.

At its Thursday meeting the commissioners approved a restructuring plan that will put the EMS’ three supervisors into the field working paramedic shifts as well.

“We should save $87,000 a year in salaries plus about $40,000 in benefits,” EMS director Buddy Fry said.

During the year three field paramedics left the EMS and Fry did not replace them. Instead those supervisors will handle the paramedic duties as well as be the duty officer for the entire county per shift. Before the supervisors’ only responsibility was as duty officers.

“The EMS has been very proactive to help live within the budget for 2013,” Commission President Les Boggs said. “This will save about $100,000. They didn’t wait until the middle of the year to make cuts.”

Also during the meeting County Treasurer Stephen Burcham asked that the commissioners review their appropriations for his salary and supplies line items. This year Burcham’s office was given $45,000 for salaries and $8,000 for supplies, the latter Burcham said is a 63 percent cut, the only office with a line item reduction that extensive.

The treasurer had asked for approximately $60,000 for salaries and $22,000 for supplies.

“That is what we had (last year) and that was what we used,” Burcham said after the meeting about the supplies’ appropriation.

The reduction in the salary appropriation is the equivalent of a loss of two full-time employees, he said. Right now there are four employees in the treasurer’s office, one of whom is paid out of the tax lien administration fund.

“When I first took office, the salaries were more than $90,000,” Burcham said. “We do the best to live within our budget. But there is a certain period of time when we need a certain amount of staff. … There is a certain level of service that you have to have to operate.”

Boggs said he was unaware of a cut in supplies to that extent.

“If that is the case, I do think that is unfair,” Boggs told Burcham.

In other action, the commissioners:

• Approved a demolition agreement for William Williams and Charlene Kouns for property on State Route 141;

• Accepted the verbal decline from Ronnie Hatfield for full-time employment at the dog shelter;

• Recalled Benny Call as part-time assistant dog warden;

• Accepted the resignation of two EMS paramedic employees;

• Accepted the weekly dog warden report where one dog was euthanized, 24 adopted or went to rescue and none were redeemed by their owner.

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