IRON COUNTY — In advance of an upcoming public hearing regarding the fate of the Iron County Ambulance Service, Iron County commissioners prepared and read a statement at their meeting Monday, summarizing their feelings on the process so far.
At the meeting, Iron County Commissioner Alma Adams read the statement aloud to those in attendance. The statement, Adams said, was intended to ensure the commissioners were on record about their reasoning on the issue, before the public hearing is held March 9.
In his statement, Adams said options considered by the commission during the process have included a proposal to raise city taxes; joining the service with the fire department; and increasing staffing to prevent overtime costs — all of which were either turned down by the city mayors or the commission itself.
Seeking a solution in the private sector would be beneficial to the county, Adams said, and such a decision goes along with his conservative values. He believes many citizens in Iron County share these values, as well, and that the private sector seems to be the best option.
“Conservatives believe in smaller government, less taxes and the general concept that the private sector can, and should, operate more efficiently than the government,” Adams said. “Having had all other options rejected, why would we continue to provide this service when the private sector is willing and eager to do so?”
After speaking with government officials from areas utilizing a private EMS service, Adams said, he discovered private EMS services in other areas seem to be adequate.
Because there may be misconceptions about how the commissioners have been making their decisions for the service, Commissioner Dale Brinkerhoff said he wants to ensure the public knows privatizing the service was not the only option given to area mayors.
In past meetings with the Iron County Coordinating Council, Brinkerhoff said, commissioners highlighted options where the ambulance service would have been turned over to the area mayors, provided the mayors agreed their cities would help offset deficit costs for just the upcoming year. This option was one he thought the mayors wanted, he said, but most of the cities did not seem interested in it.
“They all turned us down except Kanarraville,” Brinkerhoff said. “The smallest city with the smallest budget.”
The back-and-forth discussions and debate between all parties involved has gone on for too long, Paragonah Mayor Connie Robinson said in an interview with St. George News. It is time for a decision to be made, regardless of what it is, so the process can begin to move forward.
However, Robinson said, it has been somewhat frustrating that communication between the mayors and commissioners has not gone as well as hoped.
For example, Robinson said, herself and other mayors were not informed about the upcoming meeting on March 9, and ended up finding out about it through the news media.
“We have heard nothing,” Robinson said.
In the end, Adams said, commissioners want to ensure the best service possible for the citizens of Iron County, and he does not believe privatizing the service would bring down the quality of care.
“We can require that any entity that operates EMS in Iron County provides a high level of care,” Adams said. “Disposing of our assets and eliminating the county service would allow Iron County to reduce the size of government, pay off the outstanding debt and not raise taxes.”
At the meeting, commissioners will further discuss the ambulance service’s future, and the sale of property connected to it. Following discussion at the public hearing, the commissions are set to vote on whether to sell the service or retain it.
The public meeting will be hosted at the Iron County Commission Chambers at 10 a.m. on March 9. Members of the public are encouraged to attend.
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