Council OKs more EMS support

Written by David Green.

When the City of Morenci took over ownership of the local ambulance service late in 2001 and financial assistance was obtained from the townships, no one knew for certain how the effort would turn out.

“It might sound strange, but when we were putting it together, it was just everybody’s guess,” council member Keith Pennington said at Monday’s meeting.

The financial pledges from the city and townships combined with revenue from the services provided might be enough to cover costs or they might fall short of what was needed.

There’s been no increase in the assessments charged to residents in the seven years of coverage, Pennington noted, so the initial guesswork was close.

However, as costs increase, the break-even margin gets slimmer and slimmer.

Pennington reported to council Monday of a request by the Morenci Area EMS Advisory Board for financial help in paying off a $15,000 line of credit used for short-term needs.

The fund is often used while waiting for Medicare reimbursement.

The loan account is generally near the maximum allowed, he said, and the board wants to pay it off and start fresh.

Payment is based on a formula that takes into account how many household units are served. Morenci’s share of the cost would be $8,296. Seneca and Medina township officials already paid their portions.

An alternative would be to increase the annual payment each government unit makes, but for Morenci, that couldn’t be done until next May when there’s an opportunity to alter the assessment. The assessment can be increased up to 10 percent a year without a vote from residents.

Audience member Matt Woznicki asked if the shortfall indicated that too many employees are hired by the EMS service or whether another community is needed to participate.

Mayor Russ Sutherland answered that involvement by another community would be beneficial since the success of the service is based on the number of ambulance runs. No other nearby community is willing to join in.

“The problem isn’t something that came up this year,” Pennington said. “It’s been building.”

“The funding formula and the agreement for subsidies have been in place since the beginning,” Pennington said after the meeting. “We are just fulfilling our obligations that we agreed to from the start.”

If there were an excess of cash in the ambulance fund, the city and townships would also share in a refund.

 

  • Front.train
    WRECKAGE—Morenci Fire Department member Taylor Schisler walks past the smoking wreckage of a semi-truck tractor on the north side of the Norfolk and Southern Railroad tracks on Ranger Highway. The truck trailer was on the south side of the tracks
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
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    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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