Panel talks pay for EMS squad

The commissioners discussed the future of the county EMS and fire services during a work session before Tuesday morning’s board meeting.

County EMS Director Don Kelbley said the county EMS program is an all-volunteer advanced life support ambulance service, and the squads are struggling to recruit and keep volunteers.

Doug Nichols, Republic squad coordinator, presented commissioners with a proposal to have a partial paid system.

The proposal would add about $986,000 to the county budget and would have paid EMS workers for 12 hours and have a volunteer squad for 12 hours during the evening.

Nichols said volunteers are getting scarce, due to many people being too busy to work for the EMS program while also having a family and a job.

Commissioner Fred Zoeller said income from the EMS has been higher than expenses over the past five years.

Zoeller said he would like EMS and fire squads from around the county to work together and come up with a “scaled-down” proposal that all parties can agree on.

He said the proposal Nichols gave to commissioners Tuesday would be a “sizable budgetary item” for the county. Zoeller said the county needs to come up with a long-term solution for the problem.

“What we want is to offer a quality EMS service in Seneca County,” Zoeller said. “If we can achieve those goals, then it’s up for us to come up with the funds. Everyone’s got to do their job, in order to make this happen.”

Commissioner Jeff Wagner said he thinks commissioners would support a levy proposal.

“What direction the EMS coordinators want to go, we want to go,” Wagner said.

Zoeller told the coordinators to find the most effective and least costly solution possible.

“The lower the price tag on this thing, the easier it’s going to be to swallow for everybody,” he said. “My last resort would be to go back to the citizens for a levy, that’s my last resort. Maybe that’s the only option.”

The board also approved a resolution authorizing an agreement with Renz & Associates for the Tier-I assessment of former underground storage tank system on behalf of County Engineer Mark Zimmerman.

Zoeller said there was some underground storage work done that was approved 10 years ago, and now the county is being forced to re-certify the assessment after there was an error reported in the paperwork.

County Administrator Stacy Wilson said Zimmerman has volunteered to cover the cost of the assessment, so it will not be coming out of the General Fund.

“He’s done us a great favor taking care of this,” she said.

In other business, commissioners received one bid for a household sewage treatment system from A&D Excavating LLC.

If there is no impact from federal sequestration cuts, the county is expected to receive $56,000 in 2013 for a low-income home sewage treatment replacement program.

The $56,000 can pay for three or four septic systems.

Also during the meeting, commissioners approved a proclamation to help increase awareness on child abuse and neglect in Seneca County.

There were 390 cases of child abuse and neglect investigated in the county in 2012, according to the proclamation.

Also during the meeting, Zoeller said a job fair is to take place noon-6 p.m. May 13 at Tiffin University’s Heminger Center.

The next commissioners’ meeting is 7:30 p.m. March 26 in Fostoria municipal city building instead of its usual meeting time and place.

In new business, the board approved:

Bill vouchers

A fund transfer of $400,792.22 to be made to the Bond Retirement Fund.

A fund transfer of $44,000 to be made to the Note Retirement Fund.

A resolution setting 10:30 a.m. April 9 at the commissioners’ office to receive sealed bids for SEN-CR 14-1.69 superstructure replacement.

A resolution authorizing the Fair Housing Program agreement with WSOS CAC Inc.

A resolution authorizing Wagner to sign the Office of Criminal Justice Services subgrant application on behalf of the county sheriff’s office, retroactive to March 18, 2013.