Bill Wayne's Political Pages - The Gadfly
Gadfly 155
Submitted to the Warrensburg Gazette for September 5, 2002

The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.

Do the actions of a majority of the ambulance board remind anyone else of a little league team trying to play in the MIAA? Did anyone doubt that the board was going to look for the most expensive solution to our ambulance needs? Does anyone else think the City was right in setting a “strike date” in view of the public refusal of the ambulance board to negotiate further?

The City Council, after giving the ambulance board every chance to seek a solution to the benefit of Johnson County as a whole, voted to notify the state of their intention to cease ambulance service after November 30th. The city will retain first responder capabilities, but only within the city limits. The city also indicated its willingness to continue negotiations in the interim. The details of the city offer and board counteroffer have been reported elsewhere.

It appears the ambulance board developed its final offer by consulting with Livingston County, which contracts with the city of Chillicothe. Now, Livingston County has a population of about 14,500, of whom almost 9000 live in Chillicothe. For the statistically challenged, that’s about 62%. The whole county is smaller than Warrensburg, which has about 1/3 of Johnson County’s 48,000 or so residents. Chillicothe owns its county; Warrensburg is but a big player (and gerrymandered out of its fair share of influence on the ambulance board, but that’s another issue). Some parallel!

The ambulance board members, whose members garnered the support of between 2.48% and 7.02% of registered voters in June, decided they need the full levy amount of over $1.1 million to operate the service. Warrensburg’s projected deficit for a 12 month period was around $460,000; Holden’s would have been significantly less. That would have left plenty for the new ambulances needed no matter who runs the service. The ambulance district claims it won’t have money to contract for operation until December, yet they plan on hiring a $60,000 a year administrator effective 1 November.

If the voters of Warrensburg had known what the net result would be, the district would not have passed. It is time for the ambulance board members to explain publicly why they want to run their own district despite the cost – to create their own little empire (sarcophagus). It is time for them to publicly report on the specific research they have done – and not done. Could it be that their minds were made up and they had no desire to be confused by facts?

If you’re planning a heart attack in December, make sure you get to town first!

See also Gadfly 150 and Gadfly 147 for earlier comments.

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