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EMS fund growing, used to fund services

March 18, 2011

COLUMBIA CITY — In a time when funds are tight and belts are being cinched to the last eyelet, one Whitley County entity continues to be funded year in and year out thanks to a 15-year-old compromise.
On Monday, September McConnell, Executive Director of the Whitley County Community Foundation, will give a report to the county’s Board of Commissioners about just such a fund — the Whitley County/Whitley Memorial EMS Fund.
According to McConnell, the fund, now in its 15th year, has grown since it began in 1996 when Whitley County government officials and the local hospital disputed over a building cumulative fund that existed.
“It got contentious,” said McConnell on Thursday. “In fact, it got really contentious.”
Members of county government at the time thought the money belonged to the county. The board at Whitley Memorial Hospital, now Parkview Whitley Hospital, also made a claim to the (then) $1.5 million.
After much debate, according to McConnell, a compromise was reached.
The community foundation would act as steward of the fund, which was to provide money for the local emergency medical service through the interest raised from the original lump sum.
The original amount of $1.5 million was to remain in place. That base fund has grown, according to McConnell, to $1,899,663.
“This is how the community foundation can work,” she said.
“This has been a well-protected pot of money that has served the community well.”
McConnell will report to the commissioners that since the beginning of the fund, the local EMS has added six ambulances as well as spending funds on equipment such as radios, defibrillators and computers. The fund also helps pay for community health projects and ambulance repairs.
“The fund has grown, but we’ve also had almost $1 million in purchases,” McConnell said.
As of Dec. 31 of last year, the fund generated $306,461 in new revenue.
The fund is governed by a five-member board with panelists from county government, the hospital and a neutral party tasked with making decisions on disbursements.

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