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By Carmen Ensinger
Greene County approved the purchase of a 1999 used ambulance with only 76,000 to take the place of a 2013 ambulance that has been down for several months at a special board meeting earlier this month. The idea was that the used ambulance would get them by until a new ambulance could be built, which could take anywhere from nine to 12 months.
However, when the board learned that the ambulance was making “courier” runs daily to White Hall, Roodhouse and Greenfield for non-medical issues, which put unnecessary mileage on the ambulances, they got to rethinking the purchase.
The county has been purchasing a new ambulance every two years, a tradition which also came into question.
“If we are buying the used ambulance to replace the 2013 one so they have a spare, then why would we need to purchase a new one,” Board member Chris Elliott said.
Board member Joyce Clark sees the miles these courier runs put on the ambulance as a problem.
“Look at all the miles these runs put on the ambulance plus the fact that the ambulance isn’t available for calls while on these runs,” Clark said. “Maybe that is one of the reasons people can’t get an ambulance when they need one. Look how much we would save on mileage if we weren’t making these runs. Plus, it is not the county’s responsibility to make these runs.”
Board member Andrea Schnelten agreed with Clark.
“I agree with Joyce 100 percent and I don’t pretend to understand the tax levy,” Schnelten said. “But why do we have to buy a new ambulance every other year? It seems kind of frivolous to me. Those are diesel engines and anything under 200,000 miles is still a very good vehicle. There is no need to buy new. This is crazy.”
The tax levy for the ambulance is right at $500,000 a year.
“I think we have passed off on purchasing a new ambulance too many times without asking why,” Schnelten said. “I think we all really need to understand what this tax levy is and how it is to be spent and what we can do with it.”
County Clerk Debbie Banghart said that the last ambulance the county bought they had to borrow the money to pay for it.
“I don’t see any need to vote on purchasing a new ambulance at this time,” Schnelten said. “I don’t think we need to spend the money this year. It would be nice to pay it back if we borrowed it before.”
Board member Earline Castleberry said that Sheriff Rob McMillen presented a quote from Juhl Construction on repairs to the roof, which was put on nearly 10 years ago and now needs to be redone to extend the manufacturers warranty. Schnelten said the $19,865 price tag was a super good deal.
“This doesn’t have to be done, but if it is done, we keep our manufactures warranty for another 10 years which extends to the coating,” she said. “Doing this extends the warranty, so anything that comes up they repair it.”
The board approved the motion with 75 percent of the cost due up front and 25 percent due upon completion.
The board also approved an election grant for the Greenfield firehouse. This grant will make the firehouse handicap accessible since the firehouse is now the new polling place.
Also approved was the creation of a new account for health insurance reimbursement.
“Right now, they are taking the money to reimburse the employees directly out of our payroll account and that is not a good idea because they could accidentally take out the wrong amount,” Banghart said. “This account will have $1,000 of seed money in it for reimbursement only. We put the money in and they take it out for reimbursing our employees.”