Wednesday, August 6, 2008

EMS bill was a surprise

I served as mayor of of Hailey from 2001 to 2007. During that time the funding of the consolidated dispatch was frequently discussed in open, pubic sessions of the City Council. On many occasions it was noted that there was no agreement between the city and county to fund the new consolidated dispatch system with city dollars. In fact, it was openly questioned how the county was planning to pay for this new operation.

In fairness to the public who is following this issue in the newspaper, the comment that the city is trying to "get out of paying what it owes" is wrong. There was no agreement to pay for these services other than the pro-rata share already paid by each property owner through their county taxes. The city wasn't "in" anything to get out of.

The dispatch operation is a county function and like all county functions is funded by county revenues. The county significantly underestimated the cost of its operation. It's now time to come clean with that reality, and to ask the taxpayers to approve a tax levy increase. If successful, it will guarantee the funding needs for the dispatch system in the future. If not successful, the county will need to fund the dispatch from its existing budget like it has done for years.

The approach by the county in this matter has been disappointing and lacks the leadership necessary to find a permanent source of funding for consolidated dispatch. I encourage the County Commissioners to re-evaluate the path they have chosen, and to let the voters decide if they want to fund the dispatch system.

Susan McBryant


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