(12/14/2012)
Calhoun Commission president Kevin Helmick submitted his resignation from the Calhoun Emergency Service Board during a commission meeting Wednesday.

Helmick said he was submitting his resignation based on a recommendation of a state EMS auditor who indicated his position on the commission and the EMS board could become a conflict-of-interest, following Helmick's concerns about the finances of the local ambulance service.

A state EMS authority is currently doing an audit regarding the services and finances of the agency.

Also submitting a resignation from the EMS Board was Bob Groves.

Helmick continued to express concerns about the finances of the ambulance service, who repeated what an auditor told the EMS board during a recent meeting, "EMS has to be run like a business," saying the agency is responsible to the Calhoun Commission.

Helmick said he was concerned at a recent meeting, where he recused himself from voting, that Christmas bonuses in the amount of $4,600 were given to employees, a $350 bonus to full-time employees.

He repeated what Calhoun commissioners have told EMS Director Josh Johnson, the commission is well aware that most employees have not been paid well and have no benefits, the commission is not expressing concerns about performance, just the business operation of the agency.

"Understanding the medical performance of EMS is beyond my ability," Helmick said.

Director Johnson has said EMS is not accountable to the Calhoun Commission, and has proposed to his board to change the agencies by-laws that would remove accountability to the commission and county taxpayers.

County taxpayers support a levy for their operation, own their building and ambulances, and pay most of their insurance costs.

Helmick said at a recent board meeting, EMS had $14,000 in outstanding bills for the month and $11,000 in the bank when they gave employees the $4,600 Christmas bonuses.

"It's not that we think the employees don't deserve a bonus, but it's a real management stretch under those circumstances," Helmick said.

"The county, which is operating on a tight, shoestring budget, hasn't been able to give county employees raises for a few years," he said. "It's a sad position to be in."

This last week, Calhoun EMS had to borrow ambulances from Ritchie and Kanawha County to operate, with their current ambulances experiencing mechanical problems and extended mileage.

Commissioner Chip Westfall said it is the responsibility of the commission to see that service is provided to the county.

The audit will be reviewed by the commission.

See related story CO. COMMISSION DEALING WITH AMBULANCE ISSUES - Calhoun EMS Denies Financial Problems Saying "It's Just Politics"


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