Commissioners hear final EMS talks before expected July 2 vote

OSCEOLA COUNTY — Discussion regarding the potential Osceola County EMS building location in Marion continued at the June 18 Osceola County Commission meeting, which is the final meeting before an expected vote on the topic.

Osceola County EMS Director Jeremy Beebe presented a report on the sustainability of the base, call volume per township and daily ambulance use data, which commissioners requested at the June 4 meeting.

The townships of Burdell, Sherman, LeRoy and Rose Lake had a total of 214 emergency calls in 2012 and have had 97 so far this year. The townships of Highland, Marion, Hartwick and Middle Branch had a total of 201 calls in 2012 and have had 82 so far this year.

Beebe also provided an extended look into how ambulances have been used from the beginning of 2013 and included how long the ambulance was in use through central dispatch.

Commissioners have the desire to extend EMS coverage, including the possible addition of another ambulance in the northwest.

Sherman Township resident John Iler said he believes the county will not have enough revenue to have a full-time ambulance in the northwest quadrant, and wants the commissioners to take another look at the entire plan before committing to the Marion site.

A vote decision to allow the design and future construction is expected to take place at the July 2 meeting.

In more business, commissioners approved about $21,800 to be transferred to fund autopsies within the county. Lisa Kaspriak of the medical examiner’s office said an increase of autopsies occurred in 2012 due to high-profile cases including a suicide-homicide, motor vehicle crash, drowning, child deaths and elderly deaths, and the medical examiner’s office could not anticipate the high number. Autopsies, which cost about $2,200, take at least four months to complete, and invoices are not received until reports are submitted.

To balance the office’s budget, at least $8,600 is needed, but Kaspriak requested for the county to provide an additional $13,200 for projected autopsies for 2013, which will bring the total to $21,800.

Commissioners unanimously approved the motion to provide the $21,800 out of the fund balance.

In other agenda business, Osceola County Animal Control Director Michelle Kuz discussed polices, procedures and statistics with commissioners.

In 2012, she said 923 animals were impounded, but the shelter’s rate of success for adopting out cats and dogs significantly increased. In addition, they were under budget by $2,800. Since 2006, budget expenditures have decreased by 8 percent and revenues have increased by 29 percent. On average, the shelter receives 1,300 complaints each year and has received an increase in the number of large animal complaints of neglect.

Kuz said the shelter’s staff tests animals for rabies, tries to educate pet owners to the best of their abilities and tries to be a resource for the community. Outlets including Facebook, Petfinder, Craigslist and the website have been helpful to find people looking for lost animals or looking to adopt a new cat or dog.

In other business, commissioners approved a motion to allow Osceola County EMS to lock in a price of about $143,800 through Sept. 30 with Stryker, which is a company that will sell four powered cots and equipment for ambulances to the county if a vote is approved in a future county meeting. Beebe said the price is expected to increase by 5 percent, and locking the current price will allow the county to purchase the equipment without the price increase.

The commissioners also approved a motion to allow Osceola County EMS to place a 1999 Ford ambulance up for bids, with a minimum bid of $2,000.

The next meeting of the Osceola County Board of Commissioners will take place at 9:30 a.m. on July 2 in the Osceola County building, located at 301 W. Upton Ave. in Reed City.