Greene County Commissioners to Consider Privatizing Ambulance Service

(GREENE CO.) – Faced with financial, staffing and wage issues, the Greene County Commissioners will debate privatizing the Greene County Ambulance Service.

On August 6, 2019 at 9:30 a.m. the Greene County Commissioners will have a discussion on privatizing the Greene County Ambulance Service.

The issue started back in July during a County Council meeting when Greene County Council members were approached by other Greene County employees about wage increases. More than 45 Greene County employees attended the meeting and contended that raises were going to public safety personnel, but no additional raises were given to other Greene County employees.

The ambulance personnel cited losing more than a dozen employees because of low wages and working conditions within the ambulance service. In addition, the ambulance service went unmanned at times due to lack of personnel.

Many ambulances were being sent on patient transfer runs leaving only one ambulance to cover the county. On some occasions there were no ambulances available at all, leaving other counties to cover calls.

Linton Rescue also provides ambulance service to the western part of Greene County.

The Greene County Sheriff’s Department is also reporting loss of personnel due to low wages.

Greene County Sheriff Mike Hasler cited the loss of five personnel due to salaries and other issues.

The County Council also addressed the need for jailers at the jail during the meeting.

The Greene County Council voted for a 0.2 percent Correctional Rehabilitation Facilities Income Tax to take the pressure from the Public Safety Tax. This will allow the council to use the tax for public safety. This will also take the burden off of the General Fund to be able to give raises to other Greene County employees.

Officials want to address the issue sooner rather than later and have a plan in place to start dealing with the issues surrounding the ambulance service.

The budget hearings will begin in September.

The operating balance for the ambulance service is around $585,000 and that balance is nearly depleted. The county also pays out approximately $700,000 in PERF retirements to county ambulance personnel, according to the Greene County Auditor’s office. In addition, the ambulance service uses a private billing service to be able to get paid for emergency runs. The ambulance service has also been bailed out previously during the financial crisis.

Commissioner Abrams wants to see if there are better efficiencies within the private sector versus a government ran ambulance service. Especially with the additional costs that are passed down using a government ran ambulance service.

The Greene County Ambulance Board will also be making recommendations of what is expected for a private ran ambulance service to operate within the county.

Greene County residents are encouraged to contact all three commissioners to weigh in on the issue surrounding the ambulance service.