After a 10-minute executive session for personnel matters, the Marion County Commission started asking EMS director Ed Debesis questions about his request for two more employees at Friday’s payday meeting.
Commissioner Randy Dallke said the county is still building the service defending Debesis’ request for two more people.
The vote was 2-1 in favor of adding one EMS employee this year and one next budget year. Chairwoman Dianne Novak cast the dissenting vote.
Novak asked Debesis: “How do you justify having this extra staff?”
Debesis said: “The need.”
In looking at the time sheets, though, Novak said he was averaging about five hours overtime a week.
“I don’t see massive amounts of overtime on your timesheets,” she said, “so I don’t understand why you are so tired.”
Debesis said he didn’t put every phone call or document everything he did.
“But I will start documenting all of it if you want me to,” he said. “Next month I will show you. I will show you on my timesheet.”
Novak said: “Any other documentation should have been brought up already.”
Commissioner Kent Becker said he was concerned about holding the line on the budget.
“We might have to pay for a Chevy first (before the Cadillac),” Becker said.
“Ed, if we agree to provide one paramedic now, and you recognize we had to increase the budget last year quite a bit (1.5 mills for EMS more),” he said, “and it’s our job to administer the budget, we are going to be taking a hard line on some of these budgets.”
Additionally, Becker wanted Debesis to understand the county is not looking for an increase at all, and in some ways is wanting to save going forward.
“I have a question for you,” Debesis said. “With (the EMS budget) that we have been trying to build, how do we cut it?”
Becker said he was talking more about holding the line.
“If we would agree to provide that extra paramedic, and you recognize that budget is a concern, would you be willing to rescind your resignation?” Becker asked Debesis.
Linda Peters, who was planning waiting for the road and bridge work session asked to be heard.
“I’m not here for this part,” she said, “but Kent you are stating that if we hire an additional person then will (Debesis) rescind his resignation.
“That’s almost like EMS holding us hostage in the county.”
Peters said she would rather see a statement from Debesis that he needs additional help and it’s that part that needs to be voted on.
“Then he needs to rescind his resignation,” she said.
If it’s done the other way, Peters said, it would open the door for other departments to come forward and say, “if we don’t get this then…” and it becomes a hostage situation.
“It is a hostage situation,”Novak said.
Debesis said he didn’t want this to come to a “hostile situation,” but was asked by both Becker and Dallke what it would take to keep him from resigning.
“I am not making this a big deal,” he said. “I will resign, but it is the commissioners, public, and crew members who have asked me not to leave.”
Dallke asked Debesis where is the cap on numbers of people.
“Will two more people take care of all the voids and maintain what we have today?” he asked.
Debesis said it wouldn’t be enough.
“We still have volunteer service out here that have people up in age, and I am not saying you may not have to do something down the road,” he said.
“We either shut them down (the EMS volunteers) and that’s an option or you want to maintain them,” Debesis said. “That’s a decision when the time comes for the commission to make.”
In the meantime, Debesis said he can help with EMT classes, and as one retires or one leaves, one volunteer can be brought on.
Novak also accepted the resignation of Debesis as outlined in his March 19 letter of resignation to the commission, but the motion failed for lack of a second.
The resignation was first discussed briefly Friday, March 23, and again Monday, March 26, and this meeting.
Novak sought outside legal advice after continuing to accept Debesis’ resignation and no motion to second the action was made.
“In the state of Kansas, there is no law or statute that requires an acceptance vote on these (resignation) matters,” she said.
“By his own action, Debesis tendered his resignation with a letter dated March 19, and as the commission chair, I accepted it with regret, and now Debesis refuses to rescind it.”
Novak said it is her position that Debesis’ last day of work as Marion County EMS director is June 1.