Proposed EMS special district stirs county council debate
by Rose Egelhoff
The Times-Independent
Feb 08, 2018 | 2333 views | 0 0 comments | 39 39 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Grand County Emergency Medical Services currently operate out of a patchwork of facilities around town. Here, an ambulance pulls out of the bay in downtown Moab. Members of EMS hope that a special service district will be a better governance model for the department. 
						     Photo by Rose Egelhoff.
Grand County Emergency Medical Services currently operate out of a patchwork of facilities around town. Here, an ambulance pulls out of the bay in downtown Moab. Members of EMS hope that a special service district will be a better governance model for the department. Photo by Rose Egelhoff.
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Though no members of the public spoke in opposition at a public hearing for the proposed Grand County Emergency Medical Services Special Service District, there was a lively debate between Grand County Council members and representatives of Grand County EMS.

It was late in the evening before the council got to the public hearing. A large audience had dwindled down to a dozen EMTs.

“I’m really struggling with this,” said Council Member Curtis Wells. “By removing as an elected representative for county council, I would be supporting the removal of this function, this department, from the county into your own independent entity. A lot of the frustrations and concerns that I’ve had as citizen before I ran for office was due to the behavior of special service districts and not really the county itself … I think elected representatives can provide much more oversight and a better working partnership with the department than an unelected board.”

EMS representatives defended the proposed special service district.

“You look at the county council and how many entities you are in charge of ... a huge amount of entities,” said Jason Taylor, an active member of the EMS department. “When we sat down as Grand County EMS and this board sat down, we sat down because frankly Grand County EMS was failing at what we were doing.”

Council Member Jaylyn Hawks added, “I think the thing that a special service district board can do is provide the focus and advocacy that this organization that provides these services needs. We don’t have focus to do this. We’ve got too many other things on our plate. We hear a report twice a year. I think that the director and staff of the EMS facility really needs a board that they can rely on for advocacy and a board that they are responsible to rather than this far away connection to this council.”

Elizabeth Tubbs framed it as an issue of continuity. Tubbs, a former Grand County Council member, was a member of the Grand County-EMS committee that recommended a special service district.

“One of the problems that I see with EMS is that there is not that advocacy, that strong board that works with the EMS department because ... as a county council member, I knew nothing about EMS,” Tubbs said. “But having that strong voice that stays consistent—the county council changes every two years and so does the belief of what should happen with the EMS service. I’ve seen that myself.”

The public hearing will remain open until Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. Comments can be emailed to council@grandcountyutah.net or mailed to Grand County Council, 125 East Center St., Moab, UT 84532.

Requests for two rezones and a conditional use permit came up for public hearing at the Feb. 6 meeting of the council. Both rezones were recommended for approval by staff and the Grand County Planning Commission.

The first rezone proposed to change .45 acres zoned large lot residential to highway commercial. The property, located at 2109 South U.S. Route 191, is contiguous with other highway commercial properties.

The second rezone generated more debate. The owners of a 112-acre parcel zoned for range grazing located north of town requested a rezone to resort special zoning. Grand County Community and Economic Development Director Zacharia Levine reported that the planning commission was split on whether to recommend the rezone, ultimately voting in favor of approval. Concerns included the size of the parcel, though Kim Norman, representing owner Diane Norman, said that much of the parcel is unable to be developed due to washes and natural features.

“Our greatest concern is for our community … I think that we can do things in the development phase that serve everyone,” Norman said, adding that the Norman family values keeping public lands usable for families.

A third public hearing concerned a conditional use permit for the Contractors Roost Campground/RV park. Property owner Dan Stott said that as a drywall contractor, he had trouble finding housing for his employees — something he cited as a factor in rising construction costs in Moab.

All three public hearings will remain open until Feb. 14 at 5 p.m. Comments can be emailed to council@grandcountyutah.net or mailed to Grand County Council, 125 East Center St., Moab, UT 84532.


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