GREAT FALLS – Glacier County Commissioners on Tuesday officially accepted the resignation of EMS Director Amie Allison.
Her resignation came after she learned about budget cuts to the department, and the inability to come to a solution to pay off nearly $3 million debt that the department has.
“We’d like to maintain everything. We’re reviewing that now to see what we can and can’t do. We don’t have any plans to shut the doors or send people home or lay people off,” Glacier County Commission Chairman Michael DesRosier said.
DeRosier says that for the time being, the Glacier County Disaster & Emergency Services Director will be stepping in.
“The DES coordinator will be working more closely with human resources, the treasurer’s office, clerk and recorder, financing, and the people at EMS right now, and I suppose at times reporting back to the commissioners,” DesRosier said.
But for now, there are no plans to shut the department down.
“We are looking at all the options, looking at grant opportunities, loan opportunities. I believe we applied for loans or the application process is ongoing right now for some loans. We’re doing the year end closeout on the books and the finances to see what kind of money the county has in other areas,” DesRosier said.
The next County Commission meeting is set for Tuesday, but currently there is nothing on the agenda about the department.
“We are all really concerned about this program. It’s a wonderful program. We are proud of our program. It’s been a great program for Glacier County. The staff, the professionals that work in the EMS are very professional, compassionate, wonderful people and we feel bad that it’s effecting a lot of their stress levels,” DeRosier said.
(AUGUST 8, 2018) In a closed session, the Glacier County Commission decided to eliminate a home health program, a decision chairman Michael DesRosier said will hopefully cut the debt and increase revenue in the county.
After learning about the meeting, Amie Allison resigned from her position as the director of the Glacier County EMS Department in Cut Bank, one she served as for eight years.
“I am resigning because of the inability to do my job. There has been additional stress placed on me as a director with closed meetings occurring, voting on departmental concerns without discussion or including me as the department head,” reads part of Allison’s resignation letter.
As of Tuesday night, the commission has accepted Allison’s resignation, but she said her work is not done.
“I’ve learned a lot of things in this position, and one of those is to make sure your voice is heard with the legislature,” Allison said.
She said the department is nearly $3 million in debt. $1.7 million was spent on the EMS building, a little over $1 million for the operating budget, and about $400,000 for ambulance purchases. The money that’s left goes to the payroll.
“That amount has grown over time, anything that’s left certainly moves forward. For our department, we only get 1.94 mill levies so that is split between Cut Bank, Browning, and Babb. If you’re looking at the Cut Bank location, only that 0.65 of a mill levy, it’s hardly enough to sustain a service,” Allison said.
The EMS department is responsible for about 800 transports, 1,400 calls a year, and serves about 13,000 people, 10,000 of which are on Medicaid.
“If you take those away, what happens to your community? There’s already disparities that occurs. There’s people that already don’t have cars, you can’t get a ride so if you can’t get a transport during a medical issue, what did we do to our community? It’s going to be detrimental,” Allison said.
Allison said although she’s stepping down, she plans on staying involved in Montana EMS, working with legislature and is hopeful for change.
“I want to thank the community and the commission that I have worked under for the last eight years. I absolutely love the kind of work I do and the projects that I have been a part of completed through EMS. I believe my work will continue to support the community, the EMS staff, and the department,” reads Allison’s letter of resignation.
Glacier County Commissioner Chairman Michael DesRosier said in two weeks they will have a commission meeting where they will discuss a plan for the future of the EMS department.
Reporting by Elizabeth Transue for MTN News