Despite Delaware County commissioners' suspension of a proposal to take over operation of Liberty Township emergency medical services, township trustees have added last-minute resolutions to their Tuesday, Feb. 19, meeting agenda that would force the county to give the township $1 million or take over EMS operation.
For three months, Liberty Township trustees have discussed a proposal from Delaware County that would replace the township’s cross-trained fire and EMS services with its own exclusively EMS-trained crews. The change reportedly would have saved the township an uncertain amount on reimbursements to the township and other fees paid.
Trustees Melanie Leneghan and Mike Gemperline have consistently supported the idea of exploring that change, while Trustee Shyra Eichhorn has vehemently opposed any change.
At each board of trustees meeting since the proposal was made public in November, angry residents have vocally demanded that the Liberty EMS remain under the control of the township.
At their Feb. 7 meeting, Delaware County commissioners voted to suspend that proposal, citing findings of a group of EMS personnel and other emergency leadership that determined the issue needed more research. The decision seemed to bring an end to the conversation.
Until Monday, Feb. 18, the Feb. 19 meeting of the Liberty Township board of trustees was set to occur with little discussion on the topic.
But sometime Feb. 18 or 19, pair of resolutions were added to the agenda.
The first demands that Delaware County pay the township $1 million as reimbursement for the township's EMS operations.
The second would give control of that EMS to the county.
According to Leneghan, the county will be given the opportunity to hand over that $1 million. If it doesn't, she said she’ll force county leaders' hand.
“We're going to send a response to the county,” she said, “so chances are if that (first resolution) passes, then we would just table the next resolution contingent upon the county's response.”
Leneghan called the commissioners’ decision to pull the proposal “ceremonial” and “political,” and said “it means nothing.”
Despite the vocal and constant opposition from residents at meetings, Leneghan said she believes only "a handful of residents" disagree with the change, and that those who do are "basing that on lies.”
In each of the township’s votes related to EMS control, Gemperline has sided with Leneghan.Gemperline could not immediately be reached for comment Feb. 19. While Eichhorn said she agrees that the township "should be receiving more money from the county," she said she disagrees with this approach. "Making this kind of demand without working with them as a partner is a mistake and it will not lead us to our desired results," she said.
Leneghan said she believes it’s “very reasonable” to ask for the $1 million and expects the county to accept.
"We'll have to wait and see,” she said. “The ball will be in their court."
She said she believes it’s within the township’s rights to demand that the county provide their EMS at any time, even as quickly as a 24-hour period.
And if the county can’t find the money?
“That's not my problem,” she said. “They are allocated funds to provide EMS to this entire county. With those funds, they can either provide it or they can pay for it.”