EMS services in Young County will continue to operate within the current structure of a fairly new inter-local agreement for another year. 

On Aug. 14, the Graham City Council extended a standing agreement splitting any operating-budget deficit generated by Graham Regional Medical Center's emergency medical services unit three ways between the hospital, the city and Young County, but caps the city and county's obligation at $35,000 each. 

The EMS agency that serves Graham and Young County, with the exception of Olney, shows an operating deficit of $249,911 for the 12-month period ending June 30, according to a GRMC EMS financial report provided to the city by the hospital. After the city and county contribute the $70,000 they are obligated to, the deficit for the agency is $179,911, confirmed GRMC Interim CFO Ed Brown.

According to minutes from the Jan. 16 city council meeting where this agreement was initially approved, in the past the city and county have contributed funds for any operating deficits generated and to support the purchase of ambulances by Young County/Graham EMS. 

“There has not been a formal agreement in place between the City and Hospital for this contribution and it has been handled as a budget item,” the Jan. 16 meeting minutes read. “With the advent of the Hospital District, a formal agreement is prudent.” 

At the January meeting the inter-local support agreement was passed with the $35,000 cap and was added to the fiscal year 2014 budget, which terminates Sept. 30. The agreement also relieves the city of any costs to purchase new ambulances. The vote on Aug. 14 means the city will earmark another $35,000 in the 2015 budget for this purpose. 

The contract required the hospital district to begin submitting yearly operating reports to the council, with the first of those coming before city council's Aug. 14 meeting. Graham Financial Director David Maddy said it was hard for him to tell if this year's EMS budget deficit was out of the ordinary. 

“I would only get a quarterly invoice if there was a loss, and I only got that sporadically,” Maddy said. “So, I can't really compare with the past because I really don't know. Assuming that they actually notified us of any losses in past years, which they may have skipped quarters and then just didn't invoice us, I don't know, but, yeah, I would think the 250 (thousand dollars) seemed rather high. But it's kind of hard to tell for sure.”

Read the entire story in the weekend edition of the Graham Leader.