Is SEOEMS issue coming to the end?

Published 10:11 am Friday, August 14, 2015

Resolving the almost five-year-old dispute between Lawrence and Jackson and Athens counties following the dissolution of the now defunct tri-county emergency medical services may be closer at hand.

Following a mediation session on Wednesday Lawrence County officials are considering a proposal that could stop the progression of lawsuits filed after the Southeast Ohio Emergency Medical Services was shut down.

“There is some money in the SEOEMS account and they are willing to give us all the money in the account,” Lawrence County Commission President Les Boggs said. “We would be responsible for all the outstanding bills.”

SEOEMS was a EMS Lawrence formed with Athens and Jackson counties that was dissolved in 2010 when those two counties pulled out. That forced Lawrence to form its own service the next year.

The three counties attempted to distribute the SEOEMS assets, but that resulted in lawsuits where Lawrence filed against Athens and Jackson and vice versa.

According to Boggs the next step is to find out the exact amount of the bills.

There is roughly $75,000 in a SEOEMS escrow account with approximately $30,000 to $40,000 owed to the Ohio Public Employees Retirement System; $10,000 to the Ohio Auditor of State for past audits; $41,000 for unemployment with about $30,000 in penalties.

“In the meantime before we get to there there is a step that will be part of the process to move to a final resolution,” said Lawrence County Auditor Jason Stephens, who was also at the mediation session. “It is not a final resolution. It is a step towards putting SEOEMS behind all three counties.”