Should Farmville pay Prince Edward’s Volunteer Rescue Squad?

Should Farmville pay Prince Edward’s Volunteer Rescue Squad?

Published 04:23 Wednesday, 8 March 2023

FARMVILLE – The City of Farmville has an agreement with Prince Edward’s Volunteer Rescue Team. For the past three years, the city has provided $30,000 annually to help cover an executive director’s salary, in addition to funding and other support for maintenance and fuel costs. But the salary agreement is not permanent. The idea was for Farmville, along with Longwood University and Hampden-Sydney College, to help get started.

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

For the upcoming fiscal year, the deal is for Farmville to provide only $15,000 in salary for the executive director of the rescue team. Then in 2024 and beyond, the city will pay no salaries at all, just continue to help cover fuel and maintenance.

“We budgeted this year for $15,000, saying next year we’re not going to do anything (for wages),” Davis told the board. “However, we got a bill for $30,000. Unless you commit funds from a contingency, we plan to pay what we budget. That would be $15,000.

Asked why rescuers were charging $30,000 instead of $15,000, Davis said he couldn’t answer. Herald reached out to Prince Edward’s Volunteer Rescue Squad, but had not received a response as of press time.

That’s the question the city council must answer, as it enters budget season. Would they agree to double what had been budgeted to help cover the director’s salary? Or stick with the original amount? Davis points out that the city today covers much more than its share of the rescue director’s salary.

See fuel and maintenance

The Town of Farmville annually helps Prince Edward’s Volunteer Rescue Team cover fuel and maintenance costs. Last year, the city provided $22,316 of fuel. Farmville also handles the maintenance of rescue vehicles, which added up to $22,510 last year.

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

Davis added the city also maintains the exterior of the rescue property at 500 Doswell Street in Farmville. That includes mowing the lawn in the summer and all maintenance around the building.

When you add up the city’s share of directors’ salaries, fuel, and maintenance, Farmville spent $74,826 on rescuers last year.

This year, regardless of what decisions are made on director salaries, it looks like other numbers will go up. From the start of the fiscal year through mid-February, FarmVille spent $16,584 on rescue team fuel, Davis said, and $6,747 on parts for vehicle maintenance.

All of this, Davis says, adds up to more than $30,000 worth of services that rescuers don’t have to pay for.

More about Prince Edward’s Volunteer Rescue Squad

Created in 1969, the Prince Edward Volunteer Rescue Squad responds to calls in the Prince Edward and Cumberland counties, along with the City of Farmville. And even though the word volunteer is in the name, the group also has over 25 paid staff. They operate five ambulances, Advanced Life Support rapid response vehicles, mass casualty trailers, ATVs and Heavy Rescue Trucks.

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

“We sometimes provide drivers for rescue teams when they don’t have enough staff,” said Farmville Fire Chief Daniel Clark. He cited Wednesday, March 1 as an example. The Farmville Fire Department is providing drivers so rescuers can organize ambulances and respond to calls.

Davis added that the Farmville Fire Department is often called when rescuers need help.

“When they shipped, we shipped too,” Davis said. “Whether we can have people to help them is a different story. We help respond to a significant number. We can’t transport, (but) we are helping.”

From January 2022 to December 2022, Clark said his department sent out 648 calls within city limits. Of those, the city responded to 438, meaning there were 210 calls where members of the department did not come to assist rescuers.

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

The board wants to stick with the budget

During last week’s budget session, board members said they saw no reason to raise the payroll back to $30,000.

“When we agreed to do the $30,000, it was with the sunset of those three years (clauses),” said Mayor Brian Vincent. “But I think we have shown and continue to show good faith in helping rescuers with other benefits. (They) far exceeded the money’s worth.”

Board member Thomas Pairet echoed the sentiment.

“In terms of manpower (and) fuel time, I feel we have far exceeded the $30,000 we originally pledged,” said board member Thomas Pairet. “I see no reason for us to follow up with an additional $15,000 at this time.”

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

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