The City of Logan is exploring options to withdraw from its emergency medical services contract with Cache County.
Cache County Emergency Medical Services Authority, established in 2005 to effectively consolidate all emergency medical services in the county, provides ambulance medical transfers to facilities in and out of Cache Valley as well as advanced life support and paramedic services.
In a presentation given on Monday to mayors and staff of surrounding cities, Logan City Fire Chief Brad Hannig said, in a nutshell, the strain on Logan resources and the funding the city receives are out of balance.
“No news like this is obviously popular,” Hannig said in an interview on Thursday, adding that the meeting with city leaders was productive. “Some mayors have some difficult decisions to make for their communities.”
According to Hannig, the surrounding cities, especially those in the south end of the valley, will have to figure out how to provide emergency medical services to their communities. However, he said the cities will not be left high and dry in the short term, because Logan is willing to extend the timeframe for assistance.
“We aren’t going to leave them cold — there’s a process that we have to go through,” Hannig said. “I’m happy to help them.”
The arrangement between Cache County and Logan requires written notification of withdrawal before the beginning of a budget year, followed by one full year of continued cooperation within CCEMS. If Logan chooses to withdraw by the end of 2020, Mayor Holly Daines must submit notification prior to the end of December 2019.
“I’d assume it’s a high probability at this point,” Hannig said about the withdrawal. “I’m not quite sure there’s a possibility that we can rectify the way it’s structured.”
According to Hannig, multiple issues for Logan have burgeoned under the current structure. Figures provided by Hannig and Daines state the Logan City Fire Department is receiving 35% of its funding through CCEMS, while Smithfield City Fire Department is receiving 70% of its funding through CCEMS.
Hannig said with two fire departments facilitating all the EMS services to the county and all paramedics coming from Logan exclusively, sometimes Logan is left vulnerable. It’s a growing concern for a growing population without the revenue to hire more people.
“You can only stretch your resources so far,” Hannig said.
Hannig said CCEMS doesn’t have a mechanism to require cities to pay higher taxes for higher rates of use, and cities not paying for EMS services are not compelled to do so. According to the figures provided by Hannig and Daines, Logan has the lowest annual median income in the county and residents pay the highest rate for EMS services. Logan residents pay $84 annually per capita and have a median income of $36,256. The provided figures state some citizens in the south end of the county pay as little as $3.11 annually.
“I’d go back to Mark Twain, you know — lies, damned lies and statistics,” said Nibley Mayor Shaun Dustin. “I’m not calling Chief Hannig a liar, but what I am saying is that, just from the perspective of Nibley, it doesn’t tell the whole story.”
Dustin said the figures presented at the meeting don’t take into account all of the money Nibley spends on emergency services or their contract with Hyrum for fire service. Dustin said Nibley is more than willing to pay the costs for EMS services but need a professional to determine the actual cost, along with a governance structure responsive to the residents paying that cost.
“We’re more than happy to pay it,” Dustin said. “But we’re not going to pay it to Logan city.”
Dustin said he understands Logan’s position and noted Logan has offered to provide service but is ultimately disappointed. He said the decision to withdraw will be a disservice to the entirety of Cache County, including Logan. Dustin said the cities in the south end of the valley will likely form their own fire department and EMS services. He said the meetings between the cities are being spearheaded by Hyrum Mayor Stephanie Miller.
Hannig said Logan’s course of action will strengthen EMS services in the community.
“I believe, in the end, they’ll be stronger and we’ll collectively be better for it,” Hannig said. “I think that’s the most important thing, is that as we move forward into the future that we’ve not left a problem for the next generation.”