The Village of South Jacksonville is talking of reviving the ambulance service almost a year after it was dissolved.
Fire Chief Richard Evans, Jr. and Trustee Stacey Pinkerton are currently working on ways to revive the service to bring back to the Village Board of Trustees. Pinkerton told the trustees last night that she and Evans are currently working on ideas, but are welcoming input on how to make it a sustainable public service for the village. The work to revive the service comes almost a year to the day that the former sitting board of trustees voted to defund its operations on July 7th of last year in a 4-1 vote. Current Trustee Tom Jordan was the lone vote against getting rid of the service. The service officially ended on August 1st of last year.
Pinkerton asked Trustee Paula Belobradjic-Stewart during the Village Business Meeting last night what her reasoning was for voting to defund the ambulance service. Stewart told those in attendance that it was not a financially stable service.
Stewart says she is all for the village having the service, but she wants it to operate in a financially responsible and sustainable way: “I really appreciated the chance to be able to verbalize why [I voted no], because I think there has been a misconception that I was actually against the ambulance service. That is not at all what my ‘no’ vote represented. My ‘no’ vote was for the fiscal sustainability and responsibility, the way we were dealing with the ambulance service. That ambulance fund was not self-sustaining. We had a very old, outdated ambulance. We weren’t able to staff it properly. Village residents were under the misconception that the ambulance was only for them, but it wasn’t. We served the whole community, which we should. As I reiterated tonight to the board, I was then and I am now in total favor of an ambulance service. If we are going to run it, then let’s do it right.”
The village is exploring the possibility of putting the revitalization of the ambulance service to a referendum or possibly seeking outside sources of funding to maintain the service. Village Mayor Tyson Manker proposed looking at incoming federal funding as a way to possibly get the service rolling again.
Fire Chief Evans told those in attendance that he says Morgan County is in the worst shape it has ever been for the need for EMTs and another ambulance service in the county. He says it’s getting scary due to the lack of availability. Proposals of reviving the service have been put on the Committee of the Whole agenda for July 29th.