Sunday, August 14, 2022

BOCC signs new resolution for ambulance district

Staff Reporter | June 24, 2022 5:05 AM

WALLACE — Shoshone County Commissioners Jay Huber, John Hansen and Mike Fitzgerald (BOCC) put pen to paper on Wednesday morning, signing a new resolution that should help guide the Shoshone County Ambulance Service District (SCASD) into the coming years.

SCASD had been in a state of limbo for the past month, following an abrupt walkout of the board’s members in the wake of several complaints and concerns from one Shoshone County resident.

Believing that they couldn’t function with the constant “nitpicking” from this individual, SCASD board chairman Bruce Van Broeke went to the commissioners last month and asked them to provide some more specific guidance as to what their powers, duties and responsibilities should be.

After several meetings, it was decided that a new resolution would be authored, approved by the county’s legal team, and then signed as soon as possible.

Fitzgerald was happy with the new resolution, and believes that its changes and additions will be a guiding force for the service for years to come.

“This week’s resolution memorializes the decision (to create the ambulance service district) and provides for two refinements which adjust for current day ambulance board needs,” Fitzgerald stated. “First, it changes the roles of two of the board members. The initial membership of five active and two alternate members has been modified to seven active members. The rapid first years of start-up are over and the need for alternates has been abated. Second, two of the positions have been further defined to include fire district representatives with expertise in EMS transport and non-transport. Again, a change to ensure the right people are making the right decisions for our community. The next step is to establish ambulance district bi-laws which will provide protocol of how the district has been and will be operating into the future. All of these steps are going to be large benefits to future commissioners and ambulance district board members.”

The commissioners have not minced words when discussing their disgust with the behavior that lead to this, and while signing a new resolution has allowed them to refine and enhance their original board directive — according to their own previous comments — it wouldn’t have been entirely necessary had it not been for the “badgering” that has gone on.

SCASD was formed in June 2020, following the discovery that the former Shoshone EMS Corp. was not financially capable of carrying out the duties that they were tasked with — this prompting the county to use funds to keep them afloat while a new solution was figured out.

The new ambulance service district was based off new (at the time) legislation, which in turn made the creation of such an entity more challenging, given that there was nothing to truly base their new board off from.

What they landed on was a board that consisted of five members, with two alternates.

This board acted as the BOCC’s arm in the emergency medical services field, but still operated under the authority of the BOCC.

It was alleged that the group was formed incorrectly by that aforementioned single resident — who lodged several complaints and concerns with both the Shoshone County Prosecuting Attorney, as well as the Idaho Attorney General’s Office. These complaints, which have not resulted in any sort of punitive measures, ranged from complaints about potential violations of open meeting laws, concerns over the potential handling of funds, how the alternate board members were used, and then the validity of the board itself.

SCASD is to be considered an advisory board to the BOCC, with the responsibility of providing “insight, recommendations, and suggestions to the Shoshone County Board of Commissioners regarding their functions as the governing board of the Shoshone County Ambulance Service District.”

The board will no longer be five members plus two alternates, but instead will be made of a seven-person board. The board will consist of “one Shoshone County Fire District transport agency representative, one Shoshone County Fire District non-transport agency representative, and the remainder to be made up of members of the community and individuals associated with first responder services. All members shall be appointed by the Shoshone County Board of County Commissioners.”

The group will oversee a number of things and then provide the BOCC with their findings, expertise and overall recommendations on various EMS-related issues.

“The advisory board will collaborate to provide guidance to the Board of County Commissioners, including but not limited to, appropriate contracts, equipment, training, and applications for grants. The Board of County Commissioners will make the final decision on any matter regarding the Shoshone County Ambulance Service District, utilizing the knowledge, suggestion, and recommendations provided by the advisory board.”

No evidence of fund mismanagement has ever been presented or alleged, but the BOCC thought it to be wise to make sure that it was cleared through their legal team, and subsequently known that SCASD has the authority to utilize county funds — but also that the BOCC still maintains the authority over those funds, as well as the approval of the board’s budgets (monthly and annually).

“The advisory board, pursuant to the agreement with the Board of County Commissioners, may expend funds for such purposes related to the services of the Shoshone County Ambulance Service District as it sees fit, subject to compliance with the budget for the Shoshone County Ambulance District as set and approved by the Shoshone County Board of County Commissioners.”

With these refined directives, the board at the very least will have the ability to effectively guide SCASD into a more stable existence — without having to worry about external issues.

“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,” BOCC chairman Fitzgerald said.

The News-Press will continue to follow this story and will provide an update following the release of the district’s bi-laws.

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