Thursday, June 30, 2022

New resolution on the horizon for SCASD

Staff Reporter | June 20, 2022 9:13 AM

WALLACE –– Members of the Shoshone County Ambulance Service District (SCASD) met with the Shoshone Board of County Commissioners (BOCC), as well as the county’s legal team to discuss the future of the fledgling board.

Last month, a lot of drama was brought to light when members of the SCASD walked out of their monthly meeting following an executive session where they reviewed open meeting laws with Shoshone County deputy prosecuting attorney Britney Jacobs, who had received complaints from resident Matt Beehner.

In the wake of that meeting, many members of the board decided that they were not going to do anything until they had the BOCC give them guidance on how to navigate what has become – according to them – “constant nitpicking” from Beehner.

“It’s gotten to the point that the entire board is fed up,” SCASD chairman Bruce Van Broeke said. “We cannot function and keep this district running with him constantly nitpicking at us.”

Beehner had emailed the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office several different times over the past few months, with complaints about open meeting laws, issues with the makeup of the board itself, and expressing concerns over how the board manages their finances. According to previous comments from Beehner, his “concerns” stem from his belief that the SCASD was formed improperly and shouldn’t be allowed to handle their business in the fashion they’ve been allowed to based upon his interpretation of Idaho code.

Idaho Code 31-3908 states that, “the board of county commissioners shall be the governing board of an ambulance service district created pursuant to this section and shall exercise the duties and responsibilities provided in chapter 39, title 31, Idaho Code.”

Beehner accused the BOCC of laziness, citing it as the reason the SCASD is allowed to operate in its current form.

“The whole thing boils down to, these guys are the board (referencing the BOCC), they’re the ones who are supposed to run the show,” Beehner told the News-Press. “They want to shove down responsibility to somebody else so they don’t have to do more work.”

Despite the numerous complaints or “concerns” leveled by Beehner, no punitive action has ever been taken against the BOCC or SCASD.

Following Wednesday’s meeting – which was almost completely in executive session, BOCC chairman Mike Fitzgerald told the News-Press that from a legal standpoint, the SCASD is operating correctly and in a completely legal fashion.

During the meeting it was decided that the BOCC would be tweaking the makeup of the board itself to more accurately reflect their responsibilities as well as make a few amendments to the board’s governing language – specifically, what the board’s function is and how it is supposed to interact with the BOCC (including the handling of SCASD finances).

The county’s legal team will be refining the bylaws for the SCASD as well.

All of these changes will be forthcoming in a resolution that is scheduled to be signed and adopted by the BOCC later this week.

Fitzgerald acknowledged that, while still operating legally, the county had simply left out some verbiage when they created SCASD barely two years ago.

“We didn’t really have a playbook to follow here,” Fitzgerald said. “We were spending emergency funds to maintain the former corporation (Shoshone County EMS Corp.) and we needed to figure out a solution sooner rather than later.”

In regard to what the board members described as harassment, nitpicking, constant complaining, both Fitzgerald and commissioner Jay Huber offered up support and thanks while also condemning the actions that led them to the meeting.

“I compliment the board for their hard work, expertise, and their invaluable service to the community,” Fitzgerald said. “I apologized to the board, that one person in the community, Matt Beehner, can create such havoc and problems that would make them want to quit. I want this resolution to allow them to keep doing what they do well and redirect those kinds of disruptive items to the board of county commissioners and our legal team to handle.”

It had appeared that some of the members of the board had resigned, but according to Huber they will all maintain their positions and continue operating as a board once the new resolution is signed into existence.

“Thank you all for staying and not running away after being badgered by one person,” Huber said. “Your community appreciates what you are doing.”

The Shoshone News-Press will continue to follow this story, including the upcoming resolution.

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