The Jackson County Commission, at its Dec.18 meeting, heard a request for the renewal of the Ambulance Service Levy to be placed on the primary ballot in May.

In his presentation Troy Bain, Emergency Medical Services Director, explained that the levy funds account for half the annual operating budget of the county’s emergency services.

“Renewal of the levy is necessary for items such as salary and medical benefits,” Bain said. “It is also used for replacing aging equipment and life-saving supplies, along with utilities at the three EMS stations in the county.”

Thus far in 2019, Jackson County EMS has had 4,662 requests for service, traveled 230,088 miles and worked 30,660 hours.

Bain also shared that two new ambulances will go through the bidding process in 2020. None were purchased in 2019.

He also pointed out that the levy has “been well supported for more than a quarter of a century” and that the levy rate would remain at its current level. In fiscal year 2019, the ambulance levy generated approximately $1,998,000 for the county’s EMS.

Commission President, Dick Waybright, along with Commissioners Mitch Morrison and Mike Randolph, expressed support for the job the EMS has done.

“As with any levy, the voters decide,” stated Waybright. “But most people realize the importance of the ambulance service. I’m very proud of the EMS service provided in Jackson County.”

The Commission has received requests for four levies to be placed on the May ballot. Those include renewal of the Library Levy, renewal of the Ambulance Service Levy, and two new levy requests from 911 and Commission on Aging. The Commission will announce the approved levies at a later date.

Montana Boggess, 911 Communications Director, updated the Commissioners on the recently upgraded Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system being used by the county’s 911 center.

“With the new radio installs, we have a much more sophisticated system,” she said. “With the battery backup, there will be no more issues if the power goes out. In addition, no matter if the call is made from a land line or cell phone, the phone number, along with the longitude and latitude of the caller’s location, will go immediately to the CAD system.”

Although the transition did pose some issues, Boggess said she and her team were able to get everything working smoothly.

Bain also shared a letter from Amy Haskins, Administrator of the Jackson County Health Department, requesting the County Commission advertise for a Quality Response Team coordinator for a federal grant. This four-year First Responder Comprehensive Addition and Recovery Grant will be utilized by the Jackson County EMS and the health department to address drug and alcohol overdoses.

The Commission went into executive session to consider personnel issues brought by EMS Director Bain. No action was taken.

In other business:

• It was noted that according to foxbusiness.com, Jackson County had the highest economic growth in the country in 2018.

• Commission approved a letter requesting a time extension for the current 2019 courthouse facility improvement authority grant – electrical upgrade.

• The transfer of full-time telecommunicator Fayth Lanham to part-time effective Jan. 1, 2020 was approved by the Commission, as well as the transfer of part-time telecommunicator Diana Roberts-Santiago to full-time effective Jan. 1, 2020.

• In public commentary, David Riffle expressed concerns, including posting the agenda of the Commission meetings. Riffle suggested including the agenda on a website to give the public easier access, along with posting on the courthouse doors.

• The next meeting of the Commission will be at 9:30 a.m. Jan. 15, 2020.