Budget set stipends on hold

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    The Patrick County Board of Supervisors approved the FY 2017-18 budget as amended on Monday, but two motions to offer stipends to EMS volunteers failed.

    The total county budget of nearly $47 million includes an additional $725,000 in insurance payments, $1,028 to a new agency, Brain Injury Services of Southwest Virginia, and an estimated $35,000 to buy a truck and the required heated/air conditioned boxes needed for animal transport.

    Supervisors discussed different price points related to the increase in insurance, including the county funding a more than $500,000 option that would require employees to pay more for their coverage.

    Employee contributions would not increase under the second option, but the county would pay an increase of $725,000, County Administrator Tom Rose said.

    The policy covers nearly 500 participating employees countywide, including those in the school system and the sheriff’s office, Rose said.

    Rickie Fulcher, of the Peters Creek District, made the motion to go with the second option.

    During discussion, Karl Weiss, of the Blue Ridge District, said half of the contingency fund would be tapped to pay for the second option.

    “This is not just a one-time fee,” Weiss said. “You better be willing to belly up and do what’s needed in the future” because either taxes will have to increase or insurance rates will have to get more competitive in subsequent years, he said.

    The motion carried in a 3-2 vote, with support from board chairman Crystal Harris of the Smith River District, Weiss and Fulcher.

    Lock Boyce of the Mayo River District and Roger Hayden of the Dan River District voted against it.

    Hayden later amended his vote to support the measure. “It was my understanding if I voted yes” on the second option, “there would be an increase to the policy holder,” Hayden explained.

    The new budget takes effect July 1.

    Also on Monday, Hayden made two separate motions aimed at helping volunteer EMS workers.

    “I think it’s time to do more than pat EMS volunteers on the back. We’ve kicked this around long enough,” Hayden said before making a motion to pay $40 stipend per call per squad. The funds would be divvied up among the volunteers responding, he said.

    The motion failed with Fulcher, Harris and Weiss voting against it, while Boyce and Hayden supported it.

    Hayden then made a second motion, which included the stipend, but also funds to hire a day crew to man an ambulance that is set to be stocked and running in fiscal ’18. Hayden said the ambulance will be stationed in Stuart.

    The motion died for lack of a second.

    “I’ve not seen a person yet that doesn’t say we should subsidize our volunteers,” Hayden said. “I’m just saying start the ambulance and pay volunteers.”

    Supervisors also agreed to hold funds collected in community fundraisers and earmarked for a skate board park. The funds will be put in a separate account and held until needed specifically for a skate board park project.