EMS Interlocal Agreement finally finalized

Apr. 25—What started out as a request back in mid January by the Somerset City Council to the Pulaski County Fiscal Court asking for more county funding for the joint Somerset-Pulaski County EMS department, finally reached an amicable conclusion when the county voted to accept the city's latest draft of the EMS Inter-Local Agreement on Tuesday.

While the county unanimously voted to accept the joint agreement in their most recent meeting, the nearly 4-month process to get to this point was far from amicable.

The letter sent by Somerset Mayor Alan Keck back in January to the county magistrates had requested $430,000 in increased funding for the EMS department from the county throughout the next three years, plus a 2.5% increase in funding each year for five years after that. Also, the mayor had given the county a drop-dead date of February 16 to make some action.

Obviously, that drop-dead date was not met. But what pursued between the two government agencies between the time the initial letter was sent until its final approval by the county, was an array of disagreements and finger pointing.

By March 18, the city voted to pull out of the EMS interlocal agreement with the county after hearing comments made by county magistrates and County Judge-Executive Marshall Todd over the past few weeks indicating that they thought county government would be better at running the EMS department.

A few weeks later, the county responded with a revised agreement with some slightly modified stipulations.

Finally, on April 8, the city drafted and approved their final EMS interlocal agreement modification.

In the final version of the agreement, the county would agree to the monetary terms being asked for by the city, while the city would agree to a few details that would allow for more county oversight of the department.

The first would be to have a financial advisory board — not a controlling board, as the county had originally requested — that would give advice and provide accountability, according to Somerset Mayor Alan Keck.

Secondly, an independent consultant would be brought in, "to assist in a strategic plan to help future operations and efficacy," Keck said. The county would bear the cost for that consultant.

Thirdly, a detailed financial report will be provided to both the city and the county on a monthly basis.

And finally, the agreement can be broken by either side with 12 months advance notice. Originally, the county had asked for the agreement to be broken only when both sides asked for it.

In Tuesday's Fiscal Court meeting, Todd stated that the city's latest revision had "changed a couple of words, but I think it's where we can accept it." Todd stated, "We had asked for a little bit more 'teeth', you might say, but we still get to recommend some action."

After the agreement has been written up by the city attorney and county attorney, the new EMS interlocal agreement will go into effect on July 1 of this year.

Contact Steve Cornelius at scornelius@somerset-kentucky.com.