Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department to charge for ambulance service

Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department representative Roger Martin shares the findings of the long- range study completed in January. Martin demonstrates the need for additional personnel that will be funded by charging for ambulance service. PHOTO BY MICHELE DOTSON

Mint Hill Volunteer Fire Department representative Roger Martin shares the findings of the long- range study completed in January. Martin demonstrates the need for additional personnel that will be funded by charging for ambulance service. PHOTO BY MICHELE DOTSON

At the August 15 Board of Commissioners meeting, representatives from the Mint Hill VFD made a presentation outlining a plan to move forward with billing for ambulance service. This plan is an effort for the service to become self-sustaining.
MHVFD Chairman Jerry Mullis addressed the Board to explain the findings of a study initiated in January to determine long-range needs of the department based on the steady increase of call volume due to population increases in the Mint Hill area.
“All indications are that our call load will increase each year,” says Mullis. “We need to be proactive in our readiness and future abilities to serve.”
A review of VFD records shows that in 1975, the ambulance service responded to fewer than 15 calls per month. In 2012, ambulance service responded to over 2,500 calls. In July, 2013, EMS responded to 203 calls, up from the same time a year ago.
According to the study, Mullis indicated that the department has enough equipment, but they need more people. Hiring more staff requires more funding which is why the department will begin charging for ambulance service beginning September 1, 2013.
“We hesitate to move away from the free service.” Mullis says.
The VFD would like to hire six EMTs right away, but there will be at least a three month lag time before they would see any money from the billing of ambulance service, which would be contracted out.
Mint Hill Town Manager Brian Welch indicated that in the absence of sufficient volunteers and the increased call volume, it is important to get the EMT staff hired by late 2013, or early 2014. He supports a plan to add staff dedicated solely to providing services, rather than splitting Fire and Paramedic services. Under the plan, new staff would be employed by the town, with the MHVFD reimbursing the town for the cost of the employees.
Commissioner Tina Ross, concerned about the fee for people without means to pay, was assured that billing would only be to insurance companies.
To that end, commissioners voted unanimously for the town manager and the town attorney to negotiate and execute an amendment to the contract with the MHVFD.
The proposal includes the following details:
• All new staff will be employees of the Town with the VFD providing payment to the Town (on a quarterly basis) to cover the full employment cost.
• No additional staff will be added for six months. For the first three months of this period, the staffing will remain current in terms of the number of employees and the manner in which the work is allocated.
• At the end of the first three months the VFD will start to realize funds from the billing. Should they choose to continue charging for the service, a joint effort between the Town and VFD will be undertaken to begin hiring six additional personnel. This is the second three months; therefore, at the end of six total months the Town will have six additional personnel (funded by the VFD) serving solely as ambulance staff.
• Also at the end of the first six months (should the VFD decide to continue the service) the VFD will repay the employment costs for six personnel who served on the ambulances during the six month period.
Wrap Up
• Boy Scouts from Troop 144 were present and introduced themselves to the Board. The scouts were there to observe the meeting and were working on Communications badges and Citizenship in Community badges.
• Keith Paris of Paris Projects and Classica Homes were granted permission for an encroachment across Thompson Road (the Town-maintained portion) for the purposes of serving 24 to-be-built homes with sewer from the Oxford Glen subdivision.
• Town Manager Brian Welch proposed Mint Hill’s continued membership in the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization (MUMPO), which will soon undergo a name change and boundary transition. The new name of the organization will be the Charlotte Regional Transportation Planning Organization (CRTPO). The commissioners unanimously approved membership and the town’s share of $9,811. According to the MUMPO, this partnership among the governor, the North Carolina Department of Transportation, Charlotte, and over 25 surrounding towns and counties, is dedicated to “promoting the development of transportation systems that embrace various mode of transportation in a manner which will efficiently maximize mobility of people and goods within and through urbanized areas and minimize transportation-related fuel consumption and air pollution.
• The Mint Hill Madness Committee’s document was reviewed by the Board and not accepted as submitted. Given that the Mint Hill Madness Committee is short one member, it was recommended by Mayor Biggers and supported by the Board that the fifth member be placed, the document cleaned up and resubmitted with changes.
• Police Chief Tim Ledford indicated the new police department would be ready on our around August 27 and asked for a tentative dedication date in early October. Town Manger Brian Welch indicated it would still be six to eight weeks before all work is completed. The will work toward an October dedication as the building gets closer to completion.
• Senior Planner Dana Clukey addressed the Board to announce her resignation. Her family is relocating to Greensboro. She concludes employment at the end of the month but will be working with the Town part time to complete open projects. The Board wished her well and thanked her for her years of service.

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