City council discusses EMS building 01.26.2011

Written by David Green.

By DAVID GREEN

Ten and a half years have passed since the Charles Fay Ambulance Training Facility was built adjacent to the former Morenci Area Hospital. The cost for using the building was $1 a year paid to ProMedica Health Service.

The City of Morenci will save its dollar when ProMedica gives the building to the city soon, but other costs are on the horizon.

It’s no longer a new building, said Morenci Chief of Police Larry Weeks at the city council meeting Monday, and maintenance issues will arise. Weeks, who also serves as administrator of the Morenci Area EMS ambulance service, pointed out that the training facility is connected to the much older clinic building that will also need maintenance in the future. Both buildings will soon be given to the city now that hospital demolition project is nearing the end.

Since Weeks became administrator, he knows that all maintenance needs have come out of the EMS budget, but he wonders if that will continue with higher-priced items. For example, he said, the facility needs a new furnace and wood siding is degrading on the back of the building. Eventually a new roof will be needed.

Morenci mayor Keith Pennington summed up the situation by asking if a new furnace would be bought by the city—soon the new owner of the building—or would payment come from the EMS budget?

The EMS service has been run as a partnership with Seneca and Medina townships, Pennington said, but if large needs come along, how will the situation be viewed with the city as the owner?

“We all need the building and we all need each other,” Pennington said in reference to the successful operation of the ambulance service.

Weeks asked if the city should now act as though it is ProMedica and provide the building for the EMS service or if a different arrangement should be made.

Council member Leasa Slocum said she would like to hear the opinion of the township boards before deciding on what approach to take.

“It’s going to be a city building,” Weeks said. “Ultimately it will be the city’s decision unless the ownership is split.”

Councilor Tracy Schell suggested coming up with some options to present to township officials. Weeks agreed and noted that perhaps some other ideas will be generated from the townships.

One option mentioned for consideration is shared ownership of the facility. Another option would change the EMS to a contract service like the fire department, with townships contracting for ambulance service.

A list of options will be prepared prior to the Morenci Area EMS board’s February meeting.

CLOSING—Council approved a motion to offer an extension to ProMedica on the closing of the property transfer. Because site restoration will not be completed for several weeks, Mayor Pennington suggested extending the closing until May 2.

When the closing is near, the city will pay $700 for title insurance work on the transfer.

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