EMS director wants increase for on-call EMTs
Suggestions of salary increases were almost nonexistent as county department heads discussed 2016 budget plans with commissioners in a daylong planning session July 1.
Commissioners entertained proposals with news that projected revenues would be up about $126,000 in 2016, rather than down.
Health department director Diedre Serene’s proposed 2016 budget kept staff salaries level, but for “information” she included a figure illustrating a 2 percent cost-of-living adjustment.
Clerk Tina Spencer was more direct, reminding commissioners that elected officials including treasurer, register of deeds, sheriff, attorney, and she had not received salary increases for several years.
The only direct proposal to increase compensation came from emergency medical services director Brandy McCarty.
EMTs have been paid $2 per hour when they’re scheduled to be on call; McCarty wanted to boost the per-hour pay for on-call EMTs from $2 to $2.50, costing about an extra $45,000.
“In order to keep a volunteer service I’m thinking we’re going to have to raise on-call salaries,” McCarty said. “If we can do it, that’s great; if not, we’ll do it on down the line.”
Florence ambulance is the only unit without a Stryker electric-assist hydraulic cot, which is used to raise and transport patients. McCarty said a new or used one would benefit EMTs as well as patients.
“It seems like our techs are getting older and our patients are getting heavier,” she said.
Prisoners and radios
Sheriff Robert Craft proposed replacing a patrol car next year, shifting the older vehicle to replace one of two cars used for prisoner transportation for court appearances, which he said has increased significantly.
“Transport miles are crazy this year,” he said. “We’ve got 3,500 miles on one car, 4,800 miles on the other.”
Appearances on closed-circuit video are useful only for initial arraignments, Craft said. Subsequent appearances take place in-person, so Marion County officers may transport a prisoner to and from another for a 10-minute appearance.
Craft also used his time to raise an issue discussed at length last year: a potential $2 million conversion of the county’s police, ambulance, and fire communication systems that he said could be mandated by 2018.
Harvey, McPherson, Dickinson, and Chase counties are in various stages of converting to the 800 mhz system, he said.
“We’re kind of an island here,” Craft said. “We’re going to have be there eventually.”
Commissioner Randy Dallke said formal planning needed to be undertaken to give cities and fire districts time to prepare.
“We sat here last year and talked about it,” Dallke said. “I’d like to make a motion right now that we’re not sitting here a year from now figuring out what we’re doing.”
Economic development director Teresa Huffman proposed adding $3,000 next year to $5,000 she would carry over for purchasing a used vehicle from state surplus stock.
“I don’t know if you’ve looked at the car, but it’s in bad shape,” Huffman said. “I was going down the road yesterday, turned the windshield wiper on, and the wiper flew off the road.”
Building up funds incrementally over multiple years for vehicle purchases is common, but Huffman could get a bigger boost than she asked for.
She promotes the county at numerous trade shows and events, for which she often needs to pull a trailer to accommodate her equipment and materials.
“As an outsider’s perspective, how do you want to present Marion County?” consultant accountant Scot Loyd said. “Do you want to present it as a rusted-out vehicle, or as a vehicle that looks nice and clean?”
Huffman quickly responded.
“That’s exactly my thoughts,” Huffman said. “When I pull in, I’m next to all the nice vehicles with big wraps on them from western Kansas, from Junction City — it’s not a very good advertisement.”
After further discussion, Holub said the idea deserved more consideration.
“We could earmark this and look at it when we get down to the nitty gritty of where we’re at,” Commission Chairman Dan Holub said. “We’ve got an increase of $126,000 so we could look to see if we could go a little bit more.”
“I think $15,000 to $20,000 is where we need to be,” Dallke said.