Unicoi County Ambulance Committee seeks to keep tenured MedicOne employees

Sue Guinn Legg • Updated Jul 3, 2019 at 8:37 PM

ERWIN — The Unicoi County Ambulance Committee voted Wednesday to recommend an additional $13,000 expenditure to keep tenured MedicOne employees at their current pay levels following the July 15 switchover to Washington County/Johnson City EMS service.

In its last meeting before the transition, the committee voted unanimously to recommend the County Commission keep the five remaining MedicOne staff members at a pay level that will exceed the base pay of WC/JC EMS employees at an estimated cost of $12,000 to $13,000.

Commissioner Glenn White made the motion to recommend the additional expenditure to the County Commission, saying the tenured MedicOne employees “have been through a lot” over the past several years.

Erwin Vice Mayor Mark LaFever, who represents the town on the committee, seconded the motion. Commissioner Marie Rice agreed with White, saying the MedicOne employees “have been through a lot and they are good employees.”

The County Commission will vote on the pay expenditure at its next meeting on July 22.

According to Ambulance Committee Chairman John Mosley, four MedicOne employees have left the service since the county entered the one-year agreement with Washington County in early May and the cost of maintaining their existing wages could be reduced if others leave.

Washington County/Johnson City EMS Executive Director Dan Wheeley told the committee new employees will hire in at the lower starting pay offered by Washington County but will receive raises that over time will level out against the higher pay received by the tenured MedicOne employees.

“Ours increase over time. Theirs, from what I understand, is pretty much stagnant, he said.

Wheely said Washington County will also offer the tenured Unicoi County staff the less expensive health insurance plan offered to its other employees, with lower payroll deductions offset by higher out-of-pocket costs and “more benefits than they have now.”

“For some people it’s more important to have that big block of pay than the longevity benefits,” he said. “If the commission wishes, we’ll start with the revised (pay and benefits) plan. … The employees will make the decision on what it’s going to be.”

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