This story posted/aired January 2, 2008 --- 05:35PM
New Glarus: The New Glarus EMS District would like to hire another full time worker and boost the pay for another, but the village and surrounding areas are saying they just can't afford it.
Like most rural departments, the New Glarus EMS District relies on volunteers. They have 2 full time employees and about 30 volunteers.
Maria Donnell is the board president and one of those volunteers. "We have provided an excellent service for many, many years."
She says unfortunately only about 10 of those volunteers are covering the majority of the shifts and that's not enough. "That core group of volunteers is gone-whether they're moved out, or they just can't give the time anymore-they're just burned out."
A consultant advised them they should promote one employee to an executive director spot, and add a third employee. So the EMS District asked for an extra $39,000 a year in their budget.
The Village of New Glarus is the largest of 9 municipalities that contract for EMS service. "We were kind of surprised by the amount of the rate increase," says Village Administrator Nicholas Owen. He says their share of the increase was $12,000 a year.
Owen says the property tax freeze and declining state aids means they can't afford the rate increase. "We had 33 inches of snow this year. We have to keep up with that too. There's not just one service we can ignore at the benefit of another one."
The contract expired December 31st and New Glarus would have to rely on EMS Districts in other communities, but both sides have agreed to a 60 day extension of the old contract while they work out a new deal.
"Everyone needs to compromise in this," says Donnell.