Washington County to take over ambulance services

WASHINGTON — Washington County will have a new county-operated ambulance service beginning on July 1, 2020.

That was the unanimous decision of the Washington County Board of Supervisors at the board’s Dec. 3 meeting at the Washington County Courthouse. The supervisors adopted a resolution to create a new Washington County Ambulance Services Department in county government and to establish the position of director of the department.

The action was taken in light of the fact that the current ambulance service contract will expire June 30 and its operator, Supervisor Richard Young, has told the board that he will be getting out of the ambulance service business and will not be renewing the contract. An advisory committee has been working for months studying options for providing a viable ambulance service to Washington County residents and had earlier recommended that the county establish a service.

While the vote to create the new Ambulance Services Department was unanimous, with Supervisor Stan Stoops absent due to illness, there was a split vote regarding the job description for the department’s director. There was disagreement over the $75,000 to $85,000 salary range recommended by the advisory committee. Supervisor Abe Miller said his internet research showed that the average salary for an ambulance service director is $67,000.

Supervisor Jack Seward asked Miller for the source of his information and was told that it was a national survey and that he would be more comfortable with a range of $65,000 to $75,000 or $80,000. Seward said the advisory committee researched what it would take in this region to recruit and hire a qualified leader to become the county’s director and that he believed the committee’s salary range numbers are more realistic for this region of the country.

Miller said there are elected officials who have served for over 20 years in the county who are not making the kind of money that the new director could be making. Seward said while that’s true, every job is different. Young said that the new director will be on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, based on his personal experience.

Seward said he would be comfortable lowering the bottom end of the range to $70,000 but keeping the top end at $85,000. Lowering the top end, he said, could result in the county not attracting the best qualified candidates for the position. Supervisors Young and Bob Yoder agreed. The vote was 3 to 1 with Miller voting no, to approve the job description with a salary range of $70,000 to $85,000.

The new director will report to the supervisors and must reside within the Washington

County ambulance response area by July 1 of 2020. The county will soon advertise the position and applications will be accepted through Dec. 30, at 4 p.m.