The DeKalb County Commission Monday night entered into a new agreement with Detention Health Care Associates to provide inmate medical care at the DeKalb County Jail.
County Mayor Mike Foster says the cost to the county is $89,000, which is $2,000 more than last year, but more services are being offered. "It's the same program that we've been having except they have enhanced it a little bit. We're getting a psychiatrist that can evaluate prisoners here and that will save us a lot of trips taking prisoners to Moccasin Bend. A nurse also comes here 30 hours a week and a doctor will come here occasionally, but the doctor and or psychiatrist also has the ability to look at patients from where he is using a TV communication system, where he can interview them, see what's wrong with them, and diagnose them that way. They literally have a two way television set up to where they can talk to each other, and he can see them, and the nurse would be there and check vital signs and that kind of thing. This year they will pay for all of the prescription and non-prescription medicines and a dentist will be available. It's a better way of budgeting for us because it allows us to know more about what we are going to be spending, though there are still some unknowns because the patient could get injured or sick and we'd have to carry them to the hospital."
The county is responsible for the cost of inmate hospital stays or trips to the emergency room.
In other business, the commission approved a budget amendment, in the amount of $67,150 to relocate the garbage collection convenience site on Highway 56 south.
Foster says the money came to the county from the state settlement on the expansion of the highway. The county paid $45,000 to purchase the property from Lloyd Shores and the rest of the money is being used to develop the site. "We bought 1.6 acres about a half mile north of the old convenience site location. We've got it graveled. Kenny (Edge) came and graveled it and got it rolled. They checked it last week about putting the electrical power back there. I talked to the state today (Monday) about getting a permit for a septic system. We're going to use that trailer we got from FEMA for the building and we'll plumb in a septic system. They've got the water meter already in. They've started putting the fence up. We'll also pour a slab for the compactor to set on. Ernie and Betsy Lynam owned the property at the old convenience site and we had to pay them $9,360 for the slab that was there, because it belonged to them. Hopefully, within another month or six weeks, we'll have it approved and open. It's a big site that has a lot of room. We can do a lot of recycling things there. It's a good location."
The commission voted to enter into an agreement with EMS Consultants to do the billing for the county run ambulance service. EMS Consultants will receive a fee of 6.5% of accounts collected.
County officials had purchased the accounting software from EMS Consultants with the intention of doing the billing in house, but discovered that the job was much more complex and time consuming.
Foster says "The software cost us $12,000. Because they are going to do the billing for us, we will get the $12,000 back, plus we will not need a full time secretary there. We'll still have to do the entries, but we think the EMT's and the director can enter them. We may need a part time person later. EMS Consultants will receive 6.5% for accounts collected. If they don't collect, they don't get paid. They do it for hospitals and other ambulance services and they will help us get our certification from Medicare and TennCare for free. Our overall costs may be a little higher, but we believe they will probably collect more than we would be able to."
The county has been operating the ambulance service since October 1st and Foster says things are running smoothly so far. "It's working pretty well. We still have a few bugs to work out but the good benefit is that we still have the good paramedics and EMTs that we wanted to keep and the county now has some say so over the ambulance service. The ambulance service is now located at the corner of Mountain Street and Meadowbrook Drive in the old Fina Market building.
The county commission also Monday night voted to begin the process of selling the building that housed the former location of the ambulance service on Highway 56 north, the Cookeville Highway. Foster says the money from the sale will be applied to the purchase of the new location.
The commission adopted an inpatient transport agreement granting DeKalb Community Hospital a special billing rate. Foster says "They give us a special rate with their billing and we feel like we should give them a special rate, if they have a patient there that they need to transport, that they have to pay for, which sometimes they do. For the Basic Life Support non emergency transport, the rate will be $150 and $4.00 per mile. For BLS emergency transport, the rate is $175. The rate for Advanced Life Support non emergency is $200, and for Advanced Life Support emergency transport, the rate is $225 and $4.00 per mile." Foster says these fees are very comparable to TennCare rates.
Residents in the River Trace and Billings Road area have requested that speed limits be posted there due to a couple of dangerous places and the amount of traffic on the roads. The county commission voted to ask the state to conduct a speed limit study there.
Foster wants the county and city to form a joint parks committee, which would give local governments a better chance of receiving grants for recreational purposes.
Foster says "In order to apply for any of the recreation and parks grants, we must have a parks committee. If we don't do it with them (city), we may do it next month on our own. It's probably a little premature right now because the mayor needs to talk to the city aldermen, who would need to ratify it. There may be a problem for the city in that whoever is on a city board must reside in the city of Smithville."
"We've got to do one (parks committee) because we've already got some grants in the past for projects that are going to have to be looked at by some people, like some of the ball parks. I know we have a problem with one of the little league fields, concerning some hand rails. We must have a parks and recreation committee to check them for safety, whether we apply for a grant or not, and if we do apply for any further grants, we must have this committee in place. There are some grants out there now, or will be soon, and I think we need to look at them. Some have a pretty high local match and some don't, some are 20% match and some are 50%. If we can do this in conjunction with the city, I think it makes for a better working relationship. With most of the grants, if you do them with two or three entities applying, they score higher on the grant system, and that increases the chances of your getting a grant."
"Possibly by next month, we would like to entertain a recommendation to include the arts, from which we might get some grants through private foundations. A lot of those require no local match. In order to get them we would need an arts commission, possibly made up of visual and performing artists.
The commission voted to tear down the house beside the jail that the county recently purchased to clear for way for parking at the jail and the library.
Foster asked that the house not be torn down and taken to the landfill until the county receives a permit on the new cell at the landfill, because the existing cell is almost full. " If it's okay with you, I'd like for you to authorize us to tear it down, but I'd like to keep that much out of the landfill, if we can for a little while, because we are really holding our breath on this permit. We may be hauling garbage to some other county in the next 30 days if they (state) don't do something. We've been nineteen months waiting on a permit and it usually takes about a year or less."