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The Marion County Ambulance District will be hiring an IT employee after the Board of Directors approved a $5.657 million budget during their meeting last week.
In addition to approving the $5,657,500 budget, the board also approved the Ralls County contract, discussed ambulance work and approved the annual employee incentive.
The 2022 budget included funds to retain a full-time IT and technology employee for the district, which the board approved after Chief John Nemes reported that over the past several months, the district has had to wait too long for some of the critical services it needs.
“I feel it is time to make this an internal position to be available on a daily basis,” Nemes said, noting some of that position was approved to be funded by Ralls County and that explains the increase in the services contract.
After discussion on the IT position, the Board agreed that it was best to have this be an internal position and to keep it in the budget for 2022.
The budget also included a fee of $35,000 for Public Consulting Group to provide the Medicare Ground Ambulance Data Collection survey that the district was chosen to submit in 2022.
“PCG specializes in this and assumes any risks involved with an error, which would result in a 10 percent decrease in Medicare reimbursements to the district,” Nemes said. “Since PCG already provides the GEMT reporting for the district, they already have access to the data needed for the survey.”
The addition of a retiree health benefit is also included in the 2022 budget.
According to Nemes, retirees cannot be left on the district’s health insurance program, and said he devised a policy to allow for retired employees to receive a healthcare reimbursement to help offset the cost of their individual insurance premiums.
“A retired employee would get 2 percent of the premium for every year of service, so an employee of 20 years would receive a monthly reimbursement of 40 percent of their insurance premium, up to a maximum of $1,000, but only until they are eligible for Medicare,” Nemes said.
Once an employee is eligible for Medicare or go on disability, the benefit would end.
After a review and approval by the district’s legal counsel, the board approved the policy, and an allotment of $30,000 will be placed in a fund for the retiree benefit.
After discussion, the board agreed to leave the funding in place, but tabled the implementation of the policy to allow Nemes time to revise a portion of the eligibility requirements.
In other business, the board approved the contract for administrative services at Ralls County Ambulance District, as well as a revised labor contract.
“The administrative staff has been going over ways to improve the scheduling issues in Ralls, as well as in Marion County,” Nemes said. “After many attempts to hire more people in Ralls or encourage part-time work, there was just not enough interest to adequately staff Ralls, and this problem was placing an undo strain on Marion staffing in return.
According to Nemes, the Ralls board agreed, voting unanimously to renew the old labor contract, which was increased to $310,000, to provide Marion County with the funds to staff New London again.
The labor contract was unanimously approved.
The board also approved the contract for administrative services.
The $101,000 services contract for 2022 was increased by $11,000 to provide partial funding for the IT position, Nemes said.
In addition, the board heard an update on work on some of the ambulances.
According to Nemes, Braun cleared the box on the ambulance which was involved for remount, so it will be retained at Braun until a new chassis arrives.
The old chassis will be picked up by the insurance company in the coming weeks.
A second truck, the Chevy truck, is having power issues, Nemes reported, and has been towed to the closest Chevy dealer who was willing do the warranty work, which is in Jacksonville.
In addition, the old Cardinal Glennon unit has been taken to Cool Touch in St. Louis to have the decals removed and rewrapped with MCAD decals.
Nemes presented the board with his recommendation for the annual employee incentive. The board approved the plan which will be presented the same as last year, being distributed based upon hours worked by each employee.
After discussion, the board also felt that since it had been another tough year for the employees with Covid, it would be nice to increase the original budgeted amount of $50,000 to $60,000 instead.
With support from the additional GEMT funding, Nemes said the finances of the district would support the increase, despite there being three payroll periods in December.
In old business, Nemes discussed the captain and FTO positions, noting that because of work conflicts some of the interviews had not taken place yet.
After the administrative staff discussed the situation, it was decided to postpone the interviews and hiring until after the first of the year.
The board also reviewed the MCAD calls with the district answering 473 calls for emergency service in September.
Base 1 (Hannibal) 2711 handled 128 calls, 2721 handled 102 calls, Base 2 (Hannibal) handled 167 calls, and Base 3 (Palmyra) handled 63 calls, off-duty or call in crews handled 11 calls.
The next meeting will take place on Thursday, Jan. 20, 2022.