County distributes extra state funding for EMS salaries, fire companies

by Kate Shunney

Morgan County Commissioners voted last Wednesday, March 20 on distribution of two separate state-provided funds to the county’s EMS provider and four fire stations.

Morgan County received $143,000 from West Virginia’s EMS Salary Enhancement Fund, created by legislators last year to boost the pay of emergency medical personnel staffing rescue squads and EMS agencies.

Morgan County EMS Executive Director Kevin Duckwall told county officials the state money has to be spent by December 31 of this year.

In response to questions from Commissioner Joel Tuttle about whether the funds would come into the county annually, Duckwall said, “From what I’ve heard, it’s in the new budget.”

The state’s fiscal year budget has not been approved yet.

“If it becomes a budget item with the state, it’s good usually,” said Commissioner Bill Clark.

Commissioners told Duckwall it is up to him how he distributes the extra funding to his personnel, as long as he follows the state guidelines attached to the money.

“Some agencies are doing one-time stipends, some are doing hourly and they will absorb the salary extras if the funding isn’t continued,” said Duckwall.

“Those problems you speak of are your problems,” Tuttle told Duckwall with a laugh.

The Morgan County Commission contracts with Morgan County EMS to provide 24/7 ambulance service to county residents. The company is paid under a multi-year contract funded by the county’s Ambulance Fee on properties.

Commissioner Clark said it was appropriate to hand the state money over to Morgan County EMS.

“I don’t see any point in us holding the money – we can’t use it for anything,” Clark said.

Commissioners voted to distribute $143,817 to Morgan County EMS.

“We expect Company 7 to distribute funds in accordance with state fund rules,” said Commission President Sean Forney.

Fire Protection Fund

Commissioners also approved disbursement of $63,692.09 from the state-created Fire Protection Fund to help move money to West Virginia’s volunteer fire companies.

Commissioner Forney recommended county officials distribute the money to Morgan County’s four volunteer fire companies based on their call volume.

Based on call records from Morgan County 911, call response was calculated as:

Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company (Company 1) — 51.07% of county fire calls,

Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Company (Company 2) — 18.23% of county fire calls,

Paw Paw Volunteer Fire Company (Company 32) — 15.35% of county fire calls,

South Morgan Volunteer Fire Company (Company 3) – 15.35% of county fire calls.

A division of the Fire Protection Fund money by call volume means that Berkeley Springs Volunteer Fire Company will receive $32,527.55, Great Cacapon Volunteer Fire Company will receive $11,611.06, Paw Paw Volunteer Fire Company and South Morgan Volunteer Fire Company will each receive $9,776.74.

Companies can use the funds in any way they see fit, county officials said.