Board discusses whether to help on cost of county’s Emergency Services Study

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen recently discussed whether to help Fayette County pay the cost of its planned Emergency Services Study.
The discussion was conducted during the portion of the May 21 meeting designated for reports from board members.
Mayor Chris Goodman said the total cost of the study is $18,000. Based on its per-capita income, Oakland’s share would be approximately $3,400, which would come out of the town’s General Fund.
Goodman said Oakland apparently is the only municipality in the county that is currently talking about the study. He said Somerville has told him that, “without question,” it does not intend to “participate” in helping to pay for it.
“And I don’t believe there are any other municipalities that have been approached,” he said. “I know it was discussed, but I don’t know that any were ever directly approached like Oakland and Somerville were.”
While declaring himself a “strong supporter” of anything related to public health, Alderman Karl Chambless asked why the other municipalities do not seem to be “that interested” in the study. He wondered whether they think it will benefit the county more directly than the individual communities.
“I have to ask myself the same thing,” he acknowledged. “If we participate in the cost of the study, what benefit will Oakland derive as a municipality?”
Goodman noted that the entire county will benefit from the study. And he said Oakland will benefit, because it will receive the data it needs from a “marketing perspective” to entice medical staff to locate here.
“I have no problem with that,” Chambless said. “I think that’s good.”
Goodman said the Somerville mayor’s “perspective” is that the municipalities are already paying taxes to the county, which now wants them to help pay for the study.
“So, is that double taxation?” he asked rhetorically. “He wouldn’t even take it to his board.”
Alderman Billy Ray Morris wondered whether, to help pay for the study, the county could give back some of the money that Oakland has contributed to the Adequate Facilities Tax.
But Town Attorney Richard Myers said the funds generated by the AFT must be used to “offset” problems or “nuisances” created by the impact of development. And the county is supposed to set priorities.
“So, you’ve got to fit whatever it is that you’re trying to get funded into that sort of criteria,” he noted. “And then, you’ve got to go to the county commission to get it approved.”
Goodman asked his fellow board members if they want to help pay for the study.
“If we don’t,” he said, “the county has to determine how it’s going to get the funds to pay it. I think we end up going down a long rat hole in trying to figure out how to suggest to them where to find the funds for it.”
The mayor noted that “a couple of” Oakland residents are examining “alternative” ways to get some emergency services in the town more quickly. “With all due respect,” he said, Oakland is “far ahead” of the county’s other municipalities.
“Our firefighters’ training and their ability now to stabilize a patient on the scene is just incredible,” he said. “We’ve got basically the same thing that the EMTs do at this point.”
Chambless said it seems like, every time “something major comes up” in the county, everyone comes to Oakland to ask for money. Goodman said that is because of the town’s size and its per-capita income level compared to the other municipalities.
Alderman John Troncone asked if the board could “revisit this discussion” after it knows whether the other municipalities have been approached.
And Chambless wondered if it would be “beneficial” to postpone it until the mayor receives a report on the “alternative” program that may be instituted.
Goodman said he thinks things will be “working concurrently” regardless.
“Based on the vote that the county commission had,” the mayor noted, “this study has been approved and is moving forward, regardless of what Oakland does.”
If the board wants to help pay the cost, Goodman said, a resolution will have to be prepared to designate the funds.
“If you don’t, or there’s more information you need,” he concluded, “we just need to know, so we can provide something back to the commission relatively soon.”