By Mark Evans
After taking nearly an hour to hear a pair of insurance presentations, the Ste. Genevieve County Ambulance Board began work on a 2021 budget last Thursday night.
The process only got so far, though, and a special meeting was set for this Thursday (4:45 p.m.) to finish the budget.
District director Kendall Shrum told the board that preparing for the gradually increasing Missouri minimum wage has to be taken into consideration when preparing the budget.
“Obviously, I am being pretty aggressive with it and trying to get us ahead of the scheme, as far as I’m tire of every year fighting the same battle every year on wages. It’s the same thing, if minimum wages goes up, we’ve got to address it.
“My proposal was to move it up to $12 an hour for EMTs, starting. I created a whole new wage survey
He spent some time going over the new wage structure. EMTs would start at $12 an hour, generally making about $39,900 a year, based on the amount of overtime they average. Paramedics, meanwhile, would start out at $15 an hour, working out to $49,920, based on overtime averages. It was noted that the staff still has extremely good health insurance options, still having a $500 deductible option.
Shrum also noted that he was not putting himself down for a raise.
“I don’t want any employee to say I’m benefitting from it,” Shrum said. “Because if I did something to my wage, I don’t feel it’s right to set my own wage. It’s just like when the politicians set their own wages. I don’t like that.”
He said he would rather leave it to the board as to whether they felt he deserved a raise.
Shrum said he didn’t think the veteran board would have any difficulty making decisions on the budget. It was noted that every member has been on the board at least five years.
“You’ve done this several years,” Shrum said. “The board’s worked with budgets. Most of you guys have been close to 10 years or longer, you’ve hammered out these budgets; you know the process.”
PROVIDENT PICKED AFTER PRESENTATIONS
Nick Rayoum of Lakenan insurance and Mike Keith Insurance both made approximately 30-minute presentation on insurance packages for the district’s buildings, vehicles and equipment, as well as liability.
The district’s current carrier, Continental Western, has decided to stop covering emergency care providers. A new policy needed to be in place by Nov. 1.
Rayoum noted that in addition to its local office, Lakenan also has offices in Festus, Farmington and St. Louis and brokers for 25 associate companies.
Keith then went over the Provident Program he sells.
The two packages were largely similar. After the two had left, Shrum said he had no preference. The district has worked with Keith before, and Lakenan has a local office.
Vice chair Don Kuehn noted that as a taxing entity, the board is required to pick the provider it believes will offer the best value.
After several minutes of discussion, the board reached a consensus that Keith’s Provident Package would be most beneficial.
The board then voted to sign with Provident.
SHRUM REPORTS CALLS SLIGHTLY DOWN
During the director’s report, Shrum noted that calls in September had been somewhat down from past years.
There were 191 total calls in September,down from 217 in September 2019 and 196 in 2018. Of those 191, calls, 127 were emergencies. A year ago there were 146 emergency calls, and 138 in September 2018.
There were 48 transfers, compared to 56 in 2019 and 42 in 2018.
“We were slightly down for the month,” Shrum said. “We had a couple of days that were pretty slow.”
For the year, that dropped the total below last year’s pace. Through September, the district has responded to 1,770 calls, down from 1,818 a year ago, but above the 1,746 calls through September, 2018.