Should Farmville pay Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad?

Published 4:23 am Wednesday, March 8, 2023

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FARMVILLE – The Town of Farmville had an agreement with the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad. Over the last three years, the town gave $30,000 annually to help cover the salary of an executive director, in addition to other funding and support for maintenance and fuel costs. But that salary agreement wasn’t permanent. The idea was for Farmville, along with Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College, to help get things started.

“The goal was for them to be more financially stable and (to help) get them on their feet when hiring an executive director,” Town Manager Dr. Scott Davis told the Farmville council during their Wednesday, March 1 budget session.

For the upcoming budget year, the agreement had been for Farmville to only put $15,000 toward the rescue squad’s executive director salary. Then in 2024 and beyond, the town wouldn’t pay toward the salary at all, just continue to help cover fuel and maintenance.

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“We budgeted this current year at $15,000, saying next year we wouldn’t do any (for the salary),” Davis told the council. “However, we got a bill for $30,000. Unless you commit funds from contingency, we plan to pay what we budgeted. That would be $15,000.”

Asked why the rescue squad billed $30,000 instead of $15,000, Davis said he couldn’t answer that. The Herald reached out to the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad, but hadn’t received an answer as of presstime.

That’s the question the town council has to answer, as it heads into budget season. Do they agree to double what’s been budgeted to help cover the director’s salary? Or stick with the original amount? Davis pointed out that the town currently covers more than just part of the director’s salary for the rescue squad.

A look at fuel and maintenance

The Town of Farmville on an annual basis helps the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad cover both fuel and maintenance costs. Last year, the town provided $22,316 in fuel. Farmville also handles maintenance for rescue squad vehicles, which added up to $22,510 last year.

“We don’t actually charge them labor,” Davis said. “The (figure) is just for the parts and things.”

Davis added the town also maintains the exterior of the rescue squad’s property at 500 Doswell Street in Farmville. That includes grass cutting in the summer and all the maintenance around the building.

When you add up the town’s portion of the director salary, the fuel and maintenance, Farmville spent $74,826 on the rescue squad last year.

This year, regardless of what decision is made with the director’s salary, it looks like the other numbers may be going up. From the beginning of this fiscal year to mid-February, Farmville had spent $16,584 on fuel for the rescue squad, Davis said, and $6,747 on parts for vehicle maintenance.

All of this, Davis pointed out, adds up to more than $30,000 worth of services the rescue squad doesn’t have to pay for.

More about the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad

Created in 1969, the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad responds to calls in Prince Edward and Cumberland counties, along with the Town of Farmville. And even though the word volunteer is in their name, the group also has more than 25 paid staff. They run five ambulances, an Advanced Life Support quick response vehicle, a mass casualty trailer, an ATV and a Heavy Rescue Truck.

And part of that operation is helped by the Farmville Fire Department.

“We sometimes provide drivers for the rescue squad when they don’t have enough staffing,” said Farmville Fire Chief Daniel Clark. He gave Wednesday, March 1 as an example. Farmville Fire Department provided a driver so the rescue squad could staff an ambulance and respond to a call.

Davis added that the Farmville Fire Department is often called out when the rescue squad needs help.

“When they get dispatched, we also get dispatched,” Davis said. “Whether we’re able to have people to help them is a different story. We help respond to a significant amount. We can’t transport, (but) we do assist.”

From January 2022 to December 2022, Clark said his department was dispatched to 648 calls within town limits. Out of those, the town responded to 438, meaning there were 210 calls where members of the department didn’t make it to help the rescue squad.

“That was just unavailability of members to respond,” Clark said. “Not all of our members are EMS providers, so it’s not like a fire call where anybody can go. You need to be trained properly before responding.”

Council wants to stick with budget

During last week’s budget session, council members said they don’t see a reason to increase the salary payment back to $30,000.

“When we agreed to do the $30,000, it was with that three year sunset (clause),” Mayor Brian Vincent said. “But I think we’ve shown and continue to show good faith in helping the rescue squad with those other benefits. (They) far exceed that monetary value.”

Council member Thomas Pairet echoed those sentiments.

“In the way of labor (and) fuel time, I feel like we’ve far exceeded the $30,000 that we promised originally,” council member Thomas Pairet said. “I see no reason for us to follow through with an additional $15,000 at this time.”

Since Wednesday’s meeting was a work session, nothing was decided. Instead, this was meant to give council members something to think about, as budget season continues.