MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Monongalia County Commissioners have approved a slightly lower version of the proposed Mon EMS excess levy.
Mon EMS director Forest Weyen said the new proposal decreases the four year total from about $21 million to $17.8 million with annual increases of 1% rather than the previous increase of 5% in years two, three and four.
“We found a number we could work with that the county ultimately approved,” Weyen said Friday on WAJR’s “Talk of the Town.” “The second part of that is we also had reaffirming conversations with both of the health systems for their commitments over the next four years to help drive that.”
Earlier this year, Mon EMS assumed the runs of the Star City EMS when financial woes forced them to cease operations. Despite subsidies that total nearly half of the Mon EMS $12 million budget from Mon Health Systems, WVU Medicine and the Monongalia County Commission, the unit continues to struggle.
Weyen said building and maintaining an infrastructure countywide is a priority that isn’t possible under the current budget.
“We need to build some actual EMS stations that are EMS specific and general operations to make sure we can continue to hire, train and educate EMS professionals that will be available for you,” Weyen said.
Staffing issues caused by the pandemic were compounded by increasing costs. Additional expenses for personal protective equipment, deep cleaning and new shift procedures all contributed to mounting costs that turned the bottom line red.
“The cost of clinical supplies goes up, the cost of ambulances goes up, the cost of fuels goes up and salaries go up,” Weyen said. “We did bake into the levy a small increase which I think the commissioners support and is in line with what the fire levy is doing.”
Residents in a owner-occupied property would pay additional 4.66 cents on every $100 of assessed value in year one. Year two the number goes to 4.70, year three is scheduled to be 4.76 and year four the number goes to 4.80. The assessment for rental property owners will be 9.32 cents for every $100 of assessed value in year one, 9.40 for year two. 9.52 in year three and 9.60 in year four.
“We want really good professional EMS services, we want the timely and to show up with high quality care,” Weyen said. “We’re trying to make sure Monongalia County has that and we’re doing so in a very efficient economic model that will be very transparent and open.”
Weyen said more information will be available online and on social media about the proposal in the coming weeks.