Council debates meeting on future of Culver EMS

Members of town council debated timing and details on a proposed meeting to discuss the future of Culver's EMS service, particularly given state-mandated changes scheduled to go into effect in 2014, and those to be required by the Affordable Care Act.

Discussion began during the June 11 meeting of Culver's town council, when council member Bill Githens requested a work session with town council, the EMS executive board, the Union Township board, and the citizens of Culver over the matter, a meeting he said he'd requested during three previous meetings. He noted he and others have attended the past three quarterly state-level EMS Commission meetings in Brownsburg, Indiana to gather information on the matter.

"We have serious decisions to make as to the level of service we're going to have and how we can afford it," said Githens. "I would rather we be a leader for communities of our size than be told what to do by Plymouth or anyone else."

Council president Sally Ricciardi, who said the state regularly changes the rules regarding levels of service and requirements, added, "I think it would be more appropriate to have a meeting in this room with the interested parties first, and then if it becomes a major problem, then we can meet in a larger building...we can discuss it, but until we know exactly what the state is requiring, it would be premature."

Council member Ginny Munroe suggested there would be a great deal of information to gather prior to a meeting, so June might be too soon to hold one.

Githens said the EMS department can't afford its current service.

"We only bring in $150,000 in revenue and it costs $300,000, so you're in the hole. Do we need to go to basic, or basic advanced? We can't afford to go paramedic. We can't get enough volunteers....we're paying people to come down from Plymouth."

Ricciardi said the ambulance service "was never meant to be self-supporting," and instead derives one-third of its funding from billing for ambulance runs, and one-third each from the town and township.

"You make it sound as though it's a losing business," she added. She also asked who comprises the "we" Githens referred to.

Githens noted Culver resident Al Nyby "has done a great in-depth detail of EMS," adding the service has had an average of 450 runs in the past five years.

Munroe said she didn't disagree a meeting is needed, but pointed out such meetings have taken place repeatedly in recent years and tend to "go in big circles, over and over." She also said she needs data in advance of any meeting scheduled, to analyze it prior to the meeting. Githens said he would provide the data.

"EMS has had the data for over a year and they haven't done Jack," he added. Responding to Ricciardi's query whether he had spoken to EMS director Bob Cooper III, Githens said he spoke to Cooper after the last meeting.
"I'm willing to listen," he said, "but we've got to do something."
Council actions at the meeting included agreement to put out for bid a bucket truck for the town, whose current service truck needs its transmission replaced, and scheduling of an executive session for June 25 to review town manager Dave Schoeff's performance.
In EMS director Cooper's absence, Schoeff presented three letters of recommendations for EMS volunteers requesting reimbursement for training at $700 each. Each will sign a contract that they will complete a year of service. Council voted in favor of the contracts.
Fire chief Terry Wakefield explained the department will have its "jaws of life" serviced at a cost of $800. Following discussion of three estimates for a partner saw ranging from $840 to $1,010, council voted to purchase a $1,010 saw from Culver Power Equipment, as a local business.
Wakefield also reported two fire fighters attended a certified dive class at a cost of $399 each and both took the opportunity to attend an additional class for certification for full face mask at $170 each. Council approved the cost.
Park superintendent Kelly Young said she is advertising for two to three new lifeguards to cover additional hours, following the park board's recent vote to have life guards on duty until 9 p.m. daily.
Council approved town clerk Karen Heim's request to hire Umbaugh and Associates to complete the town budget at a cost of $8,400, as well as two claims from Miller Norcen Insurance for an accident policy for the fire department in the amount of $3,208 and an accident policy for the EMS in the amount of $3,801.
Town attorney Jim Clevenger reported county building inspector Chuck DeWitt inspected property on State Road 17 previously owned by Hoosier Capital Holdings LLC, and now by Mark Rogers. Rogers has completed work requested and asked that an unsafe building order be lifted. Culver building commissioner Russ Mason has inspected the property and agrees with lifting the order.
Culver resident Rhonda Reinhold discussed major water-related problems at her home, explaining she was told she didn't have a water leak in the pipes leading into her home after a town check last fall. However, she said this spring a leak was found between her town water hook-up and the water meter. She requested the town split the cost of digging out the pipe.
Ricciardi raised concerns that town cost sharing would set a precedent, since the leak was in her portion of the pipe and not the town's. Reinhold also expressed concern with runoff water and deteriorating curbs along Washington Street, whose corner her home shares with Ohio Street. The council agreed to further examine the issue concerning possible solutions regarding the sidewalk, curbing and street.
A work session will take place at 5 p.m. Tuesday, June 25 to discuss a plan for maintaining new landscaping on Main Street, following a request by Sue McInturff, owner of the Diva shop on that street.
Council voted to send a letter requesting clean-up of a building owned by Northstar Plumbing and Heating, located at the corner of Slate and Jefferson Streets, after Munroe reported a complaint had been made to her about the property.
Munroe also suggested the town consider replacing lighting and posts belonging to NIPSCO in the Lake Shore Drive business district with similar posts and lighting to those added during the recent downtown revitalization on Main Street. Munroe said she had requested a meeting be set up with NIPSCO regarding the deteriorated appearance of the poles, at a previous council meeting. Town utilities manager Bob Porter suggested it would be ideal to rectify drainage issues in the area before adding new lighting there. Mark Sullivan, Commonwealth Engineers, is scheduled to bring the town a proposal to study the issue June 17.
After reminding those in attendance of the Culver Boys & Girls Club auction that Friday, Munroe thanked Kelly Young, Porter, Schoeff, and EMS for their contributions to the event, as well as local businesses for their support.