During their only regularly scheduled meeting for the month of December, the Mason County Commissioners' Court tackled the tough issue of making ends meet with the EMS department. Commissioner Wayne Hofmann, Judge Pro Tem, presided over the meeting in the absence of Judge Jerry Bearden.
EMS Director, Linda Williams, presented a revised fee schedule to the Court based upon rates she had sampled from surrounding counties. She noted that Mason's rates had not been raised in a long time, and were not keeping pace with any of Mason's neighboring EMS departments.
The new fees, which were approved by the Court and which will go into effect as of January 1, 2010, are:
For Advanced Life Support, the current fee of $350 will go to $700.
For Basic Life Support, the current fee of $250 will be raised to $500.
For transport services, the mileage fee was raised from $7 per mile to $14 per mile.
No Transports, where the ambulance is called to render aid; but, the patient is not transported to a medical facility, had not been billed for in the past even though such calls could tie up an ambulance crew for an extended period of time. That service will now be billed at $100.
Public Assists calls, where the EMS responds to a call; but, no medical service is rendered and no transport is provided, will not be charged (a determination of No Transport versus Public Assist will be made at the scene by the attending paramedic).
In other business, the County will have several repair bills as they begin 2010. At the Mason Senior Center, kitchen renovations were approved for an amount not to exceed $8,932, and to be paid after the first of the year. And, at the Courthouse, Lindsay Electric was awarded the $2,432 bid to repair and replace the electrical junction boxes on the third floor of the building. Again, the service will be performed immediately but payment will not be made until after the first of the new year.
Jail Administrator/Chief Dispatcher Lisa Herrington appeared before the Court to ask for approval to add 16 hours for a part time employee. She explained that they currently have four full time employees and two part time employees; but, the increased paperwork and reporting needs require having additional help, which was not placed into the upcoming budget.
Treasurer Polly McMillan reminded the Court that they could amend the budget; but, law states that it must be an emergency for that to occur. Mrs. Herrington told the Court that, to her, losing her part time employee constituted an emergency.
Commissioner Eldon Kothmann asked if some of the duties could be delegated among other personnel so that the additional help would not be needed; but, Mrs. Herrington said she was not comfortable with handing off those duties to anyone else since she had to be the one to do the final sign-off on them.
The Court told Mrs. Herrington that they would be more comfortable waiting until Judge Bearden was able to be with them to consider the matter, so it will be placed on the first January agenda for consideration.
A group of landowners around Spyrock Road appeared before the Court to ask that the County remove a gate that has been put up on that road, and that they not allow it to be put back up at a later time. The Thomas property, including Spyrock, was recently sold to Luther King of 4K Land & Cattle. A gate was erected at the site of a cattleguard by the new owner to keep out trespassers and to reduce vandalism; but, was done without contacting or consulting with any of the county employees or officials.
Mrs. Imogene Thomas and Mr. and Mrs. Kenneth Oehler, property owners along the roadway, explained that they did not want to have to deal with an additional gate on a County maintained road to get to their land.
Commissioner Kothmann questioned if state law even allowed someone to gate a County road without permission. After discussion, it was agreed that such a move was probably not legal; but, it was decided to discuss the matter with the County Attorney before making a determination for the County's next action.
The meeting adjourned at 10:55 a.m. The next meeting will be on January 11, 2010.