NORTH LEWISBURG – The Northeast Champaign County Fire District Board on Aug. 31 voted down a measure that would have changed how EMS billing is handled.
In regard to a letter received from Medicount, the district’s EMS billing provider, the board discussed the company’s proposal to institute a new financial hardship policy that would be used to determine how much of the actual EMS charges an individual would be required to pay for services provided to them by the district.
“What (the policy) is doing is setting the parameters of income per size of family and then based on the size of family and income, you will either pay 20 percent, 30 percent, 40 percent or so on,” Board member (Woodstock) Bradley Herron said. “From my perspective, it’s definitely more stringent than what we have today.”
Several board members said to the best of their knowledge, the district’s current policy is to “soft bill” district residents and “hard bill” those living outside the district. Essentially, district taxpayers are not required to pay any EMS bills, but nondistrict residents are.
“If (district residents) paid they paid, if they didn’t pay, we didn’t send the credit bureau after them,” Herron said. “(The financial hardship policy) is saying you are going to pay depending on your income whether you live in our district or not. They will determine how much of it you are going to pay, but you are going to pay us.”
Fiscal Officer Jenny Jenkins said the letter from Medicount stated the new policy would take effect on Sept. 15 unless the board decided against accepting the policy in lieu of its current policy already in place.
“If it’s going to apply to our taxpayers, then I don’t want to do that,” Board member (North Lewisburg) Andy Yoder said. “I want to keep it as it is and leave it that way.”
After further discussion, the board decided to keep the current EMS billing policy by unanimously passing a motion opting out of the financial hardship policy presented by Medicount.
Resignation, pay raise
Also during the meeting, Fire Chief Mike Penhorwood confirmed the resignation of full-time firefighter/paramedic Anthony Marrazzi, effective Aug. 17. Marrazzi was working a 24-hour shift position every third day.
While no reason for Marrazzi’s resignation was given, the board was informed it did come unexpectedly, leaving the district scrambling to fill the full-time position.
“The situation we’ve run into is our part-time medics have already scheduled at other places since we schedule a month ahead of time,” Penhorwood said.
After entering executive session to consider several current employees for the position, the board voted to fill the 24-hour shift every third day by promoting Robert Hall, Mitch Shroyer and Ben Gieger from part-time paramedics to “permanent part-time paramedics.”
Penhorwood said the three individuals were the only part-time employees on staff who met the criteria for the position, which pays $13 per hour, and they will fill the role on a rotating basis through the end of the year, at which time, the board could consider making the position a full time one.
“All three of these individuals are experienced and will do a great job filling this position,” he said.
The board also approved raising the pay rate for full-time paramedics from $12 per hour to $13 per hour.
To coincide with the eighth annual Covered Bridge Bluegrass Festival set for Sept. 18-20 at the Pottersburg Bridge, located on the far east side of the village of North Lewisburg’s multipurpose trail, the fire district will host an open house Sept. 19 from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the North Lewisburg Municipal Building, 60 E. Maple St.
Penhorwood said during the open house, the district’s emergency vehicles will be on display, and the community is invited to tour the facility.
“Sparky the Fire Dog (National Fire Protection Association mascot) will be on hand, and we will have fire prevention stuff to pass out to the kids,” he said.
Also on Sept. 19, the North Lewisburg’s Firemen’s Association will host a pancake breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. at the municipal building.