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Ambulance, Sheriff’s Office get extra funds

BY MICHAEL ARRIOLA | MARCH 26, 2010 7:30 AM

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Public safety in Johnson County is getting a financial boost next year.

The Johnson County Board of Supervisors approved $230,000 to fund additional personnel requests for the Johnson County Sheriff’s Office and the county Ambulance Service for fiscal 2011.

Approximately 10 different county departments requested additional funding, which totaled $1.5 million, but only the two departments received any extra money, said Supervisor Rod Sullivan.

“We thought that fulfilling these two requests would benefit the community as a whole,” he said.

The allocated money comes from the Johnson County’s basic levy fund, which receives a portion of the county’s property taxes annually, $3.50 for every $1,000 of property value, said Richard Claiborne, the county budget coordinator.

The money will supplement benefits, equipment, and salaries for the new employees.

The Sheriff’s Office will receive around $150,000 to hire two new full-time patrol deputies, said Joe Lalla, the sheriff’s commander captain of the patrol division.

“The effect will be small, but every effect is a positive one,” he said.

With only 18 patrol deputies, it puts a strain on the office, said Lalla.

The Johnson County Ambulance Service will receive approximately $80,000, an amount equal to two full-time employees.

However the department will not add new staff; instead, it will give its current 15 part-time employees more work hours.

More than 4,000 hours will be added for fiscal 2011, allowing the department to staff a fourth ambulance for 40 hours a week, said Steve Spenler, the Ambulance Service director.

Ambulances respond to 90 percent of calls within 15 minutes. But there are many times when all three of the ambulances are already out on call, Spenler said.

“The biggest cost for an ambulance service is the cost of being ready,” he said.

In past years, the Ambulance Service staffed an extra truck on certain busy days, including Saturdays with home Hawkeye football games.

But with a 33 percent increase in calls in the last five years, the department either needed more trucks or more staff, Spenler said.

“These extra hours to staff another ambulance will provide a greater safety net for the Johnson County Community,” he said.

The Sheriff Office plans to hire new employees around July 1.

Officials plan to hire deputies who have been working in the county’s jail system, Lalla said.


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