Washington County Firefighters and EMTs fear layoffs after district budget rejection

Posted at 12:21 PM, Feb 18, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-18 14:21:54-05

SPRINGDALE – After their 2018 budget proposals were rejected the Rockville-Springdale Fire District and Hurricane Valley Fire District began worrying about their future.

According to St. George News, the Rockville-Springdale Fire District proposed a hefty property tax increase in order to give its firefighters and EMTs a raise to $16 an hour.

But when that $791,000 plan was rejected however things became uncertain for district personnel.

Recently the Hurricane Valley Fire District board gave their own proposal for contracted services in response which they say would be an effective alternative to the Rockville-Springdale Fire District.

St. George News reports that Hurricane Valley Fire employees start at $18 per hour or higher with full benefits, substantially more than the $13 starting pay for Rockville-Springdale employees with no benefits.

“If we can enhance the service and response, increase the safety and lower the cost, why wouldn’t the commission be interested in doing that?” said Washington County Commissioner Dean Cox, who is also a board member of the Hurricane Valley Fire District.

The community has expressed concerns however about the plan would reduce the number of on-call employees to two full-time stationed employees down from four.

“I don’t think two’s enough,” Ryan Carter, a paramedic for the Rockville-Springdale Fire District, said.

Carter told St. George News that he believes there must be a minimum of three people available to respond to critical incidents. This would allow two medics to treat a patient in the back while another drives them to the hospital.

“Just having one paramedic in the back for a critical transport is not a good idea,” he said.

Rockville-Springdale Fire Chief Ryan Ballard believes that it really comes down to is local revenue sources.

“I believe there are revenue streams available, but we haven’t got a lot of cooperation from other municipalities up here with helping to find revenue sources,” Ballard said. “I guess it does come down to money.”

Micheal Young, a Springfield resident told St. George News, “We don’t want to pay more money but we don’t want to lose the quick and efficient service that we have in town… So, that’s the dilemma.”

Read the full article by St. George News here.