Board votes to hire emergency coordinator

The cost of both through the rest of fiscal year 2013 is projected to be $101,877. For FY14, the estimated price tag is $303,685.

County Administrator Steve Nichols made the recommendation at the end of the meeting during new business.  Because it was something county emergency services providers have been asking of the Board for two years and they were two of the 38 recommendations from the state Emergency Services audit, Nichols said he thought everyone was on the same page.

He was wrong.

Supervisor Don Weaver (Cunningham) wanted to know what had been done about revenue recovery – recouping costs either through billing a person’s insurance for emergency services rendered or other methods.

“Absolutely nothing,” Nichols said.

While he said revenue recovery was the right way to go, he did not have the time or the resources to research it. That, he said, is one of the things the Emergency Coordinator would do.

Supervisor Bob Ullenbruch (Palmyra) asked what control the coordinator would have over the corporations that provide Fluvanna Fire and EMS and Lake Monticello services.

“What’s the point of having an Emergency Coordinator who has no control over the corporations?” Ullenbruch asked.

Fluvanna Fire Chief Mike Brent said emergency volunteers make up only a fraction of the people the coordinator would supervise.

“The Emergency Services Coordinator needs to be on the Fluvanna County staff because other than fire and rescue, 95 percent of emergency responders are made up of county staff,” Brent said. “His function is to coordinate all efforts of all agencies with one goal – to service the county. Revenue recovery would be (the coordinator’s) job to look at.”

A concern expressed by everyone in the past two years when discussing how to solve issues with emergency services is how current volunteers will respond to sharing their job with contracted providers – those who get paid for their service.

It’s a consensus that some volunteers may quit.

Board Chairman Shaun Kenney said he didn’t want that to happen in Fluvanna. He said he wanted to avoid mistakes made by other counties.

“When we do it, we want to do it right,” Kenney said.

Supervisor Mozell Booker (Fork Union) said that is an impossible goal.

“Nobody’s done it right and at some point it’s going to create problems,” Booker said.

Kenney asked the emergency workers in the gallery what would be better, going with contracted services or waiting until the county is at the point it can have all emergency workers be paid staff.

Leonard Bozza is the president of the Board of Directors overseeing Lake Monticello Fire and Rescue.

“It would definitely be better to go with contract employees,” Bozza said. “It’s easier to make changes. It’s much more flexible.”

Bozza has been pleading with the Board to hire a coordinator and use contract emergency providers since presenting a study on emergency response times to the Board almost two years ago.

“I think both proposals (Nichols) put forward are the right proposals and the sooner you can move on them the better.”

Booker agreed.

“Both of these things are what the Fire and Rescue audit told us we needed,” she said. “How many times do we have to go back and forth and take a look at this?”

With that, Supervisor Joe Chesser (Rivanna) proposed both motions which passed unanimously.

Nichols said he hoped to have someone hired by March.

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