GREENE COUNTY, Tenn. - The financial future of Greene County EMS is now in the clear after worries they might run out of money
The county commission approved a $73,000 hold over on Monday to keep ambulances running until July 1. It was a 15-5 vote, with two commissioners absent.
The decision came after hours of debate over what caused the service to need that money.
EMS director Robert Sayne told commissioners they need the funds because competition from a private company cost them patients and therefore money.
"We try to break even, if we can, so there's no tax increase but what you're saying is to let another service to come in and start running the non-emergency calls," Sayne said. "That is our revenue."
He told us the funds are essential.
"If we don't get it, we'll have no choice to cut back," said Sayne. "There's no choice about it. You can even ask the budget director, if the money is not there we can't operate."
We talked to Greg Marion, the director of Life Care EMS, who's the county's competition. Marion said they don't cost the county's EMS service anything.
He told us their contracts with the hospitals say that the hospitals will call Greene County EMS first.
"We stated we support Greene County EMS for the primary ambulance service but when the wait time is going to be six hours for a heart attack victim, or anyone with a medical emergency, we would like the opportunity to provide that service," Marion said.
He told us he's still glad Greene County EMS got the funds.
Taxpayer Eddie Jennings, on the other hand, said the decision was a mistake.
"I don't understand why they make a budget because they can't never go by it," Jennings said.
Jennings is running for county commission in August. He told us it's unacceptable that the county approved the funds.
"You operate with what you've got to operate with," Jennings said. "I've got a budget at home and I've got to go by it. I can't run and go stick my hand out and they ain't going pay."
The county's budget director did speak, saying the lack in funds was due to an underestimate in how much part-time employees would cost.
The $73,000 of general funds will go towards wages for part-time employees, for ambulance fuel and patient refunds.
Commissioners did point out at the meeting that this is the first time in years Greene County EMS has asked for money.
Life Care told us they've been operating in the county for about a year.