By Jean A. Flanagan
Moorefield Examiner –
“We live on this side of the county and we have service, so why should we pay?”
“Are you going to tax us for people over there?”
“You didn’t give anything to this side of the mountain.”
The second public meeting to discuss a county wide fee for emergency medical service turned into a “this side of the mountain” vs “the other side of the mountain” accusations.
The Hardy County Commission called the meeting on Monday, July 15, and nearly 100 people, again packed the Hardy County Circuit Courtroom. The first meeting was held on June 24 and was attended by more than 100 people.
The commission proposed a monthly fee to fund the Hardy County Ambulance Authority which, in turn, would provide county wide ambulance service to the residents. But, the commission did not explain why the fee was necessary.
Commission President J. Michael Teets opened the meeting with a letter from the West Virginia Attorney General’s office. Residents had asked if it was the County Commission’s responsibility to provide EMS in the county. West Virginia Code §7-15-4 explicitly says, “the county commission shall cause emergency ambulance service to be made available to all the residents of the county where such service is not otherwise available.”
The Attorney General’s letter said the county was not responsible to provide service if there was no funding. However, the county commission can assess a fee to provide funding for service, if none exists.
The HCEAA submitted a budget to the County Commission at the June 4 County Commission meeting. The budget included an estimate of expenses. The expenses included a $100-per-call stipend to each of the two existing ambulance services, Fraley’s and Wardensville, and the projected Mathias Baker Volunteer Fire Department.
Questions were raised about non-emergency transport and it was explained that a specific license for that purpose was required by the state. “We’re not in the transport business,” Teets said.
“Why did we pay $1 million for a building we don’t need?” asked Buster Wilkins.
The HCEAA had the successful bid on the Mathias Baker Rescue Squad building. The building was in foreclosure because the squad couldn’t pay the mortgage.
“We bought it to house ambulances,” Teets replied. “It is set up for EMS. It has living quarters when we get to that point.”
“Mrs. Berg has offered a building free for the ambulance and fire company,” said Ovid Need.
Janie Berg, owner of Loudoun Heights Fuel Company read from a prepared statement. In April, she offered the use of one of her buildings on old Route 55 to the fire company and rescue squad to house equipment. She spent tens of thousands of dollars refurbishing one of the buildings to make it suitable for that purpose. At this point, the building lacks water, sewer and heat…