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Ambulance authority sets timeline for new station

January 29, 1998

By DON AINES

Staff Writer, Martinsburg

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - An ambulance station for the northern part of the county is among the projects the Berkeley County Emergency Ambulance Authority hopes to complete during the coming fiscal year.

Authority President Gary Collis on Thursday presented to the County Commission a $915,795 budget for the 1998-99 fiscal year, an increase of $58,804 over the current year.

Commission President James Smith told the authority he wanted to see progress on a station for the northern part of the county.

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"Williamsport (Md.) doesn't need to serve West Virginia. We need to serve ourselves," Smith said of the ambulance runs made to Berkeley County from there.

The ambulance authority owns six acres of land off Interstate 81's Exit 23 near Falling Waters, W.Va., where it intends to put a station. Collis said the building would cost approximately $125,000.

"We're hoping to move to the north end by the end of the fiscal year," Collis said after the meeting.

The ambulance authority operates a station off Exit 5 in the southern part of the county and leases space from the county on South Queen Street in Martinsburg.

Once the north end station is opened, he said the ambulance authority would move the ambulance out of the county building.

While the ambulance authority is independent and does not require Commission approval of its budget, the Commission did approve the creation of a $25 per household ambulance fee in 1990, Collis said.

Smith also said he wants to see better enforcement on the collection of household fees and billings for ambulance runs.

"We're losing about $100,000 a year on what we're not collecting," Smith said.

The authority has 14 full-time and about 10 part-time employees, according to Collis. He said the authority would like to give employees 4 percent pay increases, but can't predict whether that will happen.

"Last year the funds were not available, so they got 2 percent," he said.

The authority's budget includes $20,000 each for the South Berkeley, Hedgesville, Bedington, Back Creek and Baker Heights ambulance squads. That was the same amount in the current year's spending plan, but often well below what those squads requested.

Back Creek, for example, asked for $96,000 to help with the purchase of a new ambulance. Collis told the Commission that need would be addressed by transferring an ambulance from another station.

The authority approved $40,000 for the operation of its ambulances, Medic 97 and 98, and $775,795 for paid personnel and all other authority operations.

The budget anticipates bringing in about $405,000 from household ambulance fees, $120,000 for advanced life support fees and $289,795 from ambulance billings to nonresidents and ambulance calls for those who failed to pay the household fee.

Collis noted that basic ambulance service is free for those who paid the household fee, but $250 a run for those who do not.

Berkeley County Animal Control Chief Warden Ray Strine submitted a 1998-99 budget request for $89,858. That included $8,000 for the possible purchase of a gas chamber to euthanize stray, sick and injured animals.

Berkeley County Historical Society President Don Wood requested $5,000 for his organization, which received no funding from the county for the current year.

Wood also asked for $3,000 for the county's Landmark Commission for a historical survey of the Inwood, W.Va., area.

Berkeley County Crime Solvers requested $2,000, twice what it received from the county for this year.

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