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How Will Sweetwater County Fund Ambulance Service?

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By Caroline Phillips, Rock Springs Rocket Miner

SWEETWATER COUNTY — Following the failed attempt to pass the proposed general-purpose tax initiative during the special election on Nov. 2, the ambulance service was the biggest discussion point during the intergovernmental joint leadership meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 9.

If passed, the general-purpose tax would have been able to be used to help fund the ambulance service.

It was suggested at the beginning of the meeting that the topic be removed from the agenda.

However, several government officials attending the meeting were opposed to doing so.

“I do object to taking it off of the agenda. I think we need to continue this conversation with or without the funding from the general-purpose tax,” Rock Springs mayor Tim Kaumo said. “I think that this is a serious issue that we need to maintain communication on and resolve.”

“I think it needs to stay on the top of the agenda,” Rock Springs councilman Tim Robinson said. “The ambulance is going to continue to be at the top of everybody’s mind.

“When the county commission decided to refund Sweetwater Medics last March, it was done without the knowledge of the ambulance committee.”

Robinson is a member of the ambulance committee that was tasked with finding “long term and short-term solutions” for the funding.

Robinson said that when the University of Utah unsuccessfully tried to put together an ambulance service that would cover the entire county, some of the committee members were only notified afterwards.

Green River councilwoman Sherry Bushman, another ambulance committee member, echoed Kaumo and Robinson’s remarks about continuing the conversation about the ambulance service.

Rock Springs fire chief Jim Wamsley is a member of the ambulance service board and he agreed that there needed to be more open communication concerning the topic at hand.

“The biggest tool that we have at our disposal to help solve this problem collectively is collaboration and transparency,” Wamsley said. “When the county commission chose to terminate the contract with Sweetwater Medics in December, no one was given notice; which that’s your prerogative, that’s fine.

“But when we asked, ‘How do we proceed?’ we were told, ‘Oh we don’t know. Just dissolve yourselves if you want to.’ When we were called back, we have not seen the collaboration, feedback and the opportunity to have honest discussions we had requested.”

Sweetwater County commissioner Lauren Schoenfeld said that some of the discussions around contracts for this issue have been had in executive session.

“They haven’t been shared with the public as much as much as I believe that we could,” Schoenfeld said. “I think that needs to change moving forward. I think this is a great venue to have open discussions about what’s going on with the ambulance service, what we can do and making sure the community knows the efforts that are being put in.”

Green River mayor Pete Rust said that he thinks that the committee should move forward with input from each of the governmental entities.

“All of the entities need to look at the representatives that they have on both the ambulance committee and the communications committee,” Rust said. “Update them if they want to and get any input that the councils want from their representative.”

Near the end of the meeting, commissioner Randy “Doc” Wendling suggested that the committee reconvene moving forward.

“Let’s get it back together, let’s find out who’s missing on that committee for representation and start moving forward.”

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