Glenwood City Council Considers EMS In 2022-23 Budget

The City Of Glenwood is considering taking over management of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) from the Glenwood Volunteer Fire Association.

As of last week, members of the Glenwood City Council were still weighing the pros and cons of taking over the city’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS), currently managed by the Glenwood Volunteer Fire Association.

Taking over EMS would mean adding five full-time and three part-time employees to the city payroll and an additional $500,000 in employee wage and benefit expenses, but city administrator Amber Farnan said moving management of the service to City Hall would also ensure that Glenwood residents will continue to have the high quality of EMS service currently provided by the fire department.

Council member Dan McComb said he’s concerned the added cost is more than the city should or could take on at this time. He noted the city council just recently addresssed an increase in administrative staffing at City Hall and the Glenwood Police Department.

“It’s scary,” he said. “We need that (EMS service) but financially I don’t know. I think we’re heading down a bad road.”

Council member Laurie Smithers said while she appreciates McComb’s concerns, she doesn’t want to see a decline in the level of EMS service available to Glenwood citizens.

“It scares me that the city would lose the service,” she said.

If the city were to take over, the average hourly wage for paid EMS workers would increase from $12-$13 an hour to $15-$16.

The city is considering using a portion of the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds it’s receiving to subsidize the EMS program the first year to help it stay afloat.

McComb noted the ARPA funds won’t be available down the road to help fund the service. Farnan and Glenwood Fire Chief Matt Gray said as a governmental agency, the city would be eligible to apply for some grants and pursue revenue sources to help fund EMS that the fire department is not eligible for.

The council is expected to make a decision on the matter in the coming weeks as the 2022-2023 budget gets finalized. A public hearing on the city’s proposed “maximum levy” is scheduled for Tuesday, March 8, 7 p.m., at City Hall.

Some other agenda items from last week’s city council meeting:

* The council approved an update in the following fees charged by the Glenwood Fire Department for a variety of services:

Vehicle fires, up to $500; grass fires, up to $300; structure fires, up to $500; rescue calls and extrication, up to $1,000; commercial fires, up to $5,000; propane / fuel tank, up to $25; gas line response fee, up to $2,000; fire reports, up to $10, confined space rescue, up to $4,500; burn permits, up to $35, fire extinguisher class, $10 per person; and safety classes, up to $500.
Gray said the fees were last updated in 2013.

* The council passed the second reading and waived the third reading of an amendment to the unified land development ordinance pertaining to solar energy systems.

The change simplifies the permit process for residents and business owners who want to install a solar energy system on their property.

The Opinion-Tribune

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