Ala. city council agrees to 5-year funding of EMS
Jacksonville official agree to investing $25,000 a year over five years to Piedmont EMS
By Ashley Morrison
The Anniston Star
JACKSONVILLE, Ala. — The Jacksonville City Council has agreed to make official what was previously a “handshake agreement” by contributing $25,000 a year to the funding of Piedmont EMS over a span of five years, according to the Jacksonville fire Chief Keith Kadle.
During a City Council work session Monday night, Kadle told members that Piedmont EMS had reported needing help, stating that maintaining enough employees to maintain the EMS was putting a strain on Piedmont.
Kadle said the 24-hours-a-day, seven-days-a-week service benefits not just Jacksonville but the entire county. He said that $25,000 annual contribution could “in no way” pay for such services otherwise.
“It’s a good service,” said Tony Taylor, City Council president.
Kadle said if all of Jacksonville’s own ambulance services are unavailable, Piedmont EMS acts as a backup. In addition to these services, Piedmont EMS aids in the emergency standby services of various events in Jacksonville such as football games and Jax Fest.
“And I tell you, their folks are well trained and do a good job, too,” Mayor Johnny Smith said.
Kadle said the $25,000 will be made in quarterly payments and will go toward paying operating costs, such as fuel and personnel. The city has funded the services in the past, Kadle said, but the council’s vote Monday night made the arrangement contractual. It goes into effect Oct. 1.
“Nothing will really change. The fee is actually minimal considering the services,” Kadle said.
Jacksonville isn’t the only municipality that helps the nonprofit organization. Ohatchee, Piedmont, and the Calhoun County Commission also help. Piedmont EMS director Pat Brown told The Anniston Star that operating an ambulance service is very expensive and that funding such as this helps offset its operating costs tremendously.
Brown said the organization hasn’t seen a Medicare increase since 2001, and that insurance reimbursement is very low. He said EMS services can’t survive on those reimbursements alone. Piedmont EMS covers more than 500 square miles of territory, and serves over 80 percent of the county’s unincorporated areas. Brown said that a Type-1 ambulance vehicle without the equipment is $325,000. Another $150,000 is needed for the equipment, and another $20,000 a year is needed for service contracts. And that’s just for the trucks.
“We’re very appreciative of the help, and it does help offset some of the losses. Together we work toward long-term sustainable funding solutions. We have a great working relationship between the mayor and the city council of Jacksonville, Ohatchee, and Piedmont, as well as the county commission,” Brown said.
In other news, the council voted to revoke the license of Pro Quality Services LLC. Building inspector Mark Williams told the council that he received a phone call from a concerned resident asking if he could inspect a beam that a contractor put in her house. Williams said after he inspected the beam and upon speaking with the homeowner, he discovered that the building permit application Pro Quality Services had filed, it had only listed “painting, flooring, and cabinets.”
Williams said a contractor can apply for a license as a remodeler for those things if the job is under $10,000. However, the homeowner stated the project was over $30,000. In addition, a contractor would need to obtain a home builder’s license through the state of Alabama before placing any type of structural beams, Williams said. The contractor also had reportedly done unlicensed electrical work in the home.
Williams asked the council for the license to be pulled, as Pro Quality Services LLC had faced similar repercussions for operating without proper licensing in Oxford.
Ultimately the City Council voted to revoke the license.