The first of three special meetings held by the Board of County Commissioners was held Tuesday evening to discuss the ongoing issues within the county with Emergency Medical Services (EMS).
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All three commissioners were in attendance, along with Guthrie Fire Chief Eric Harlow, Oak Cliff Fire Chief Tim Townsend, County Clerk Troy Cole and approximately 10 citizens inside the Seward Road Baptist Church. Related story: Special meetings upcoming for county wide EMS discussion
The bulk of the 40 minute meeting surrounded around if the county should go from three 522 districts (ambulance provided services) to a single county-wide district.
State law allows 522 EMS districts to be assigned municipalities, school districts or county-wide.
To be converted to a county-wide district, a majority vote from Logan County voters would be needed.
Citizens within the tax districts, which includes the school districts of Guthrie, Crescent and Cashion, pay three mills on their ad valorem taxes. That money is collected from the county and in return paid to the EMS entities. However, residents outside of the three school districts (Mulhall, Coyle and Langston to name a few) do not pay the valorem tax, but receive ambulance services.
The City of Guthrie says they are facing a shortfall in funding and are considering not responding to the unfunded areas as they have done for 30-plus years. House Bill 1888 passed in 2010 allows ambulance services not to go outside of their district. Related story: Video: Should all Logan County residents pay for EMS services?
“All I know is people outside the boundary line is going to need some type of service,” Commissioner Monty Piearcy said. “I think it’s our (commissioners) job to make that happen.”
A county-wide 522 district would “even the playing ground” with everyone paying the three mill ad valorem tax and would appoint a 522 board of trustees. Next, the trustees would find ambulance service providers throughout the county.
To muddy the waters, Crescent EMS stopped operations on Oct. 26 due to funding and are currently dependent on Guthrie EMS for medical calls. Prior to Crescent, the Town of Marshall saw their EMS service closed down after a shortfall of funding.
“Our proposition (City of Guthrie) is to leave things as they are,” Harlow said. “Leave EMSA (who serves a small portion of citizens in southern Logan County) where they are at, leave Cashion, Crescent and us (Guthrie) where we are at and get everyone the funding that they need and is fair,” Harlow said if the county elected to go with a county-wide district.
The next special meeting is set for Thursday inside the Crescent Community Center, located at 525 E. Van Buren, beginning at 6:30 p.m.