After continuing a public hearing for two months, Juab County commissioners finally decided to abandon, at least temporarily, a plan to create a special service district to govern two county ambulance crews and the fire departments in the county.
The proposal was abandoned after it was suggested that Central Valley Medical Center should be included in the special service district. That would have required new advertising on the proposal, and because the public notice did not include the idea of including the hospital, commissioners would need to start over with the notice period and public hearings."I'm suggesting we at least ought to include the hospital," said Mark Stoddard, hospital administrator.
"The problem I can see is this (the special service district proposal) is growing like a Christmas tree," said Gordon Bosh, Juab County fire warden. At first, he said, the district was proposed for the county ambulance services. Then it was expanded to include fire service, and now the hospital is being suggested as well.
Stoddard said there is a need to coordinate emergency services. He said including the hospital could also reduce liability, better coordinate billing for services and enhance the quality of care.
Millard County Commission chairman Mike Styler accepted an invitation to explain the Millard County special services district that governs the fire protection agencies in that county. He said the district was created in 1985.
Cities retained ownership of the current fire equipment. The commission wanted to keep voluntarism intact, he said. All new buildings and fire equipment became part of the special services district. The district also assumed all liability and insurance. The board governing the district consists of 10 people from the cities, the president of the fire chief's association and the county sheriff, said Styler.
"It is against state law for more than one entity to tax for the same service," he said. The Millard tax levy has been juggled around, but residents did not pay more taxes. The levy has been lowered three times. In fact, the levy has gone down from the allowed 2 mills to under l mill.
"We (county) no longer have a levy for fire protection and neither do the cities," he said.
The Millard district does not include the ambulance associations nor the hospitals. While the Millard commission is happy with the way the district is functioning, it did lose some local flavor. Voluntarism is still there, he said, but keeping it has been a struggle.
Nevertheless, the creation of a special services district in Juab met with some skepticism. Fred Garbett, Eureka town clerk, said Millard County and Juab County can't be compared financially because Millard County has the Intermountain Power Project paying taxes.
Randy Freston, Juab County engineer assigned by the commission to meet with the various groups in Juab County affected by the special service district, said the groups did not want to form a special service district.
"We are not ready for a special services district," said Freston. The groups agreed, instead, to meet together once a month and to form an informal association.
Freston said he fears the informal association may not be enough to get state funding.
J.R. Belliston, speaking for the East Juab Ambulance Association, said he thought the informal board would help each of the groups find out how each of the other groups operate.