Earlier this year, Guthrie City Officials and County Commission Chairman Pearson initiated an effort which will have far reaching consequence on the lives and safety of all county residents.
They are pressing for a county-wide emergency medical services district which will be funded with either a new county-wide property tax or a new sales tax. The district would presumably contract with either Guthrie Fire Department or EMSA to provide services for the various parts of the county. The effort would result in a net tax increase and could change the ambulance service provider for many residents.
Pearson and Guthrie have justified the change because they claim some who live outside of the current Guthrie service area are asking for services but not always paying their bill. They announced intentions to refuse these requests for service unless the Board of Commissioners accept their demands and move towards a new countywide tax.
As a Commissioner, I am willing to listen to these concerns however I have a duty to demand that Guthrie and Pearson back up their claims with proof that this is in fact a real problem. I am also concerned that these officials are attempting to expand their purview and power at a time when the current EMS district, which is already served by the Guthrie Fire Department, has failed to respond to serious concerns raised by the most recent state audit. https://www.sai.ok.gov/Search%20Reports/database/LoganCoEMSWebFinal.pdf
The audit demonstrated that the current EMS district has failed to properly account for its ambulances and equipment. At the best the paperwork of Guthrie Fire Department and the EMS district is sloppy and out of order and at worst may be missing ambulances and equipment. Thought I have been assured that I would receive proof that the latter is not true, I have yet to see the official paperwork, and so still waiting for those assurances to be met even though they were given many months ago.
We perhaps had an opportunity to discover the truth of the matter earlier this year when the appointments of the EMS board members came up for a vote of the Commissioners but Chairman Pearson moved ahead with the appointments before we had a chance to discuss these matters in public and as a result the Commissioners now have little leverage to insist that the EMS board members follow through with the promise of providing this paperwork or their enjoining their cooperation in publishing a reasonable corrective action plan.
This major concern aside, I also asked that the Guthrie Fire Department provide documentation of their claim regarding the failure of Langston and surrounding areas to pay their bills. While one fire official assured our board that the documentation was available, upon further investigation, city officials informed me that they actually do not even analyze or summarize their documentation by who those who live inside of the Guthrie EMS district and those who live outside.
To the contrary, documentation provided by the state Health Department seems to reveal that the Guthrie Department has not seen an increased demand from areas outside their district. In fact, this documentation indicate a decreased demand for Guthrie’s services and brings into question why Pearson and Guthrie officials are moving forward with their demand for a tax increase based on faulty information. In spite of information to the contrary, they insist on holding Langston and other Logan County residents hostage by threatening to take away their ambulance service without meaningful data to show the justification for doing so. https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0OVCVgrc5FbbTBRMzhHWmotU1E/view?usp=sharing
The underlying “us vs. them” tactics of this hostage taking seems intended to leverage the support of these county areas against the other parts of the county who are satisfied with their current ambulance service and who won’t relish paying a new property tax for what may be an inferior service which could literally cost them their lives.
In attempting to expand their fiefdom and without adequate justification the Guthrie city officials and the District 2 Commissioner are quite literally playing a game with our safety. Until they are willing to provide real and meaningful documentation of their claims of loss, and to clear up the serious concerns of the state auditor, I must ask that they suspend their fear mongering and end this game of Russian roulette with the lives and safety of Logan County residents.
Logan County, District 1
Work: 405 282-3581