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Members back, Floyd County EMS Advisory Board again moving forward

By Bob Steenson,

The Floyd County EMS Advisory Council is apparently back on track, with members who had previously resigned again on board and a new member whose appointment had caused some dissent welcomed to the group.

At its regular weekly meeting Monday morning, the Board of Supervisors approved the reappointment of Patrick Lumley and Dawn Staudt to the council, after the supervisors had received letters of resignation from the two that were discussed at the meeting last week.

The action of the supervisors also allows the advisory council to decide for itself which of its members will be voting and which will be non-voting members.

Supervisor Chair Mark Kuhn said at the meeting Monday morning that “part of public service is finding a way to meet in the middle,” and while he had stated previously that it was unusual for a board that is appointed by the supervisors to decide who should vote or not, he was willing for the supervisors to approve that to make the council function.

Kuhn said he had talked with both Lumley and Staudt and they said they were willing to come back to the council, but he also wanted to make sure they were committed to following through with the work of the council.

The purpose of the EMS Advisory Council is to gather information about EMS costs in the county, then make a recommendation on how to fund those costs through an EMS essential services tax levy.

But beyond that, if the Board of Supervisors agrees to put an EMS levy issue to a vote, the advisory council will be the primary group that will work to get information out to the public about the proposal in an effort to raise the 60% voter support needed to pass a levy.

A similar EMS tax levy vote two years ago – with essentially the same members on that advisory council – raised only 48% voter support.

Lumley said at the meeting Monday morning that he would come back to the group, but he remained “adamant” that only the groups that pay for the service and that provide EMS service in the county have votes on the council.

“Right now, the county pays half the bill. The city pays half the bill,” he said, referring to the subsidy provided to American Medical Response (AMR) ambulance service. The Floyd County Medical Center also contributed $100,000 toward the $415,000 subsidy in the first year of a three-year contract with AMR.

The providers located in the county or that serve patients in the county are AMR, Marble Rock First Responders, Nora Springs Volunteer Ambulance Service, Greene Volunteer Ambulance, and the Nashua Ambulance Service.

“That was my intent on making sure that those folks had a say in the recommendation that goes forward to the Board of Supervisors,” Lumley said. “I still feel that way today.”

He said he would welcome additional non-voting members who could help with the group’s work, including Brandy Molitor, who had been listed by some as the source of contention and the original resignations.

Lumley said the advisory council had learned a lot from the previous effort and levy vote that failed in the 2022 general election, including by talking to counties that had successfully passed an EMS levy.

The five original members of the advisory council were Lumley, the Charles City Council representative; Dawnett Willis, Floyd County Medical Center CEO; Staudt, the AMR ambulance service station administrator; Jeff Stirling, Greene Volunteer Ambulance service director; and Dave Luett, Nora Springs Volunteer Ambulance service director.

At the Jan. 22 Board of Supervisors meeting the board had approved the appointments of Kendall Nolt, a Colwell firefighter and AMR EMT, and Marty Parcher, a Marble Rock resident who is the Charles City fire chief and an AMR paramedic.

Both persons had been asked by members of the EMS Advisory Council to apply to be appointed.

The supervisors also appointed Molitor, the founder of the Floyd County EMS association and an advanced EMT with AMR, who had applied previously to be on the council.

The council will recommend to the supervisors when a tax levy vote should be held, the amount of annual taxes that should be asked for, how those taxes should be collected and how many years the levy should last.

Lumley said the members of the advisory council are committed to educating and communicating with the public about whatever decision the supervisors make regarding a levy.

“So right now we were looking at the Party in the Park series, the county fair, me going to individual city councils and briefing those, and our normal town hall meetings that we did,” Lumley said. “So we have very robust communication plan – education, communication plan – out to the public on that.”

He said one thing they learned from counties that passed an EMS tax levy was that they need to increase their social media presence to inform people.

Lumley also asked the supervisors for direction on if they would like to hold an EMS tax levy vote at a special election in September or at the general election in November.

A county-wide special election will cost the county extra money, but if the vote is held as part of the Nov. 5 presidential election it will require many more yes votes to reach the 60% threshold, Lumley noted.

Some advisory council members have also expressed a fear that the EMS question could get lost in the rest of the ballot issues in the general election, and people would be voting on it who did not know much about the issue.

If the vote is going to take place in September it would need to be decided by July, said Floyd County Auditor Gloria Carr, who is county commissioner of elections.

Kuhn said he would put an item on one of the next supervisors’ meeting agendas to discuss the issue of timing of the election.

Also at the meeting, the supervisors:

• Continued discussion for the best location for a new radio tower near the county’s Fossil and Prairie Park Preserve near Rockford, which will be part of a new county-wide first responder communications system. The tower will improve communications in the western part of the county

At a recent meeting county Conservation Director Adam Sears and Naturalist Heidi Reams had urged the supervisors to not place the tower on the Fossil and Prairie Park property, but on Monday, Supervisor Dennis Keifer, who is the supervisors’ representative on the county 911 Board, urged the board to again consider possible locations on the part of the park property that is not in the state preserve system, rather than having to buy private property in that area.

Supervisor Jim Jorgensen said the cost of less than half an acre of land was “a drop in the bucket” in a $4.5 million project, and worth it to not put the antenna and it’s fenced-in enclosure at the Fossil and Prairie Park.

A representative of Motorola said the project design for the system is completed and all the equipment – including new radios and pagers for all the law enforcement officers, firefighters and some other first responders in the county – had been ordered, and the mobile radios for vehicles and portable handheld radios had started to ship.

The new 300-foot radio tower and a shelter building for electronics have been ordered and should arrive about June, he said, but a site will need to be decided before then because there will need to be some groundwork done to prepare for tower installation.

The county will continue working with Motorola and the tower manufacture for the best location options.

• Approved reinstating the Floyd County Home Base Iowa initiative offering up to a $10,000 interest-free five-year loan to qualifying veterans and spouse of veterans to help purchase a home in Floyd County.

• Discussed the job description for the county environmental health specialist, zoning administrator and 911 signs administrator, a combined job that will become vacant March 29 with the resignation of Jeff Sherman.

The person in that position reports to the Board of Supervisors, the county Board of Health and to the Planning and Zoning Commission.


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