City-county committee to look at EMS agreement

Published 9:45 am Thursday, August 15, 2019

A committee of six people will begin digging into the agreement over EMS services for Winchester and Clark County, which has not been updated in 22 years.

During a joint meeting Tuesday, the Clark County Fiscal Court and Winchester Board of Commissioners each voted unanimously to create a committee of the mayor, county judge-executive, two city commissioners and two magistrates to review the agreement as well as EMS operations as a whole.

Under the current agreement, Winchester Fire-EMS provides EMS services to all of Clark County and the county contributes 45 percent of any budgetary overages. The agreement, though, has not been amended since 1997.

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“I think this may be a good first step, but it is a small first step,” Winchester Mayor Ed Burtner said.

No meetings were scheduled and no members were appointed, but Burtner and Clark County Judge-Executive Chris Pace indicated they wanted to do so quickly.

The department is facing a number of issues including increasing run volumes, staff shortages, staff retention and competition for employees.

During the city’s budget process, the department requested adding 10 positions, later reduced to nine, to staff a fourth front-line ambulance. The request, though, was not included in the budget for financial reasons. In July, the city commission approved a motion to create six positions for EMS, along with a related budget amendment.

The county has not acted on EMS during its meetings since the fiscal year began July 1.

The two bodies also discussed whether to explore merging the city and county fire departments. The recommendation, as made by the city-county revenue sharing committee, received no support Tuesday.

“It’s pretty obvious the most pressing issue with the city and county is the EMS issue,” Magistrate Chris Davis said. “I think to take on another big, monumental issue to merge the departments is a little premature.”

Magistrate Greg Elkins said a possible merger has been talked about for many years, so a few more months won’t change the situation.

“At some point, we need to talk about merging,” Commissioner Ramsey Flynn said. “If we’re going to grow, we’ve got to have the stations and manpower to go with it.”

Commissioner Shannon Cox made a motion for the revenue sharing committee to begin gathering information about merging the departments, but it died for lack of a second. No one made the motion for the fiscal court.

About Fred Petke

Fred Petke is a reporter for The Winchester Sun, the Jessamine Journal and the State Journal. His beats include cops, courts, fire, public records, city and county government and other news. To contact Fred, email or call 859-759-0051.

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