Cornersville seeks better ambulance utility deal

Friday, June 12, 2009

Cornersville is seeking equality with Chapel Hill in terms of who pays the utility bills for the ambulance stations located at the far ends of the county.

This was one of the main talking points at last week's monthly meeting of the board of mayor and aldermen, along with a citizen's problems with flood zone regulations.

Administrator Taylor Brandon gave the board copies of the contracts Cornersville and Chapel Hill have with Marshall County and its Emergency Medical Service.

Cornersville signed a contract with Marshall County in 2001, agreeing to build and furnish an ambulance station and pay all the utilities for it, in return for the county maintaining an ambulance crew there 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Brandon pointed out that the contract can be terminated by either side at 30 days' notice, but that's not what they want to do.

"We want the ambulance service here," said mayor Amos Davis. "We fought hard to get it here."

What they do want is to have the county agree to pay the utility bills for the ambulance station.

This would bring the contract into line with the one the county signed in 2008 with the town of Chapel Hill for the North Ambulance Station currently under construction.

"It's discrimination," exclaimed Davis. "If you do it for Chapel Hill you need to do the same for Cornersville."

"It's a big expense for us," said Brandon, stating that the utility bills have been as high as $14,000 per year. "We're requesting that the county pay those bills for us."

One of Cornersville's county commissioners is Mickey King, also chairman of the commission's budget committee, and he has reportedly told Brandon that the county might agree to pay "a portion" of the ambulance station utilities. Brandon, however, is repeating his request for the whole amount to be paid.

Jamie Jenson, a homeowner in the Champions Run subdivision, addressed the board during citizens' comments.

"Somebody please help me fix my house," Jenson pleaded, explaining that the town had issued a building permit for his lot even though some of it -- or all of it, depending on which map you look at -- is in the flood zone. He also said the town's inspector had signed off on the house, even though parts of it do not comply with the regular building code, and none of the construction complies with regulations for dwellings built in a flood zone.

Jenson said that his flood insurance premium last year was $2,000, though this year, with help from Brandon, he got it reduced to $450 because on the old flood zone map (in force when the building permit was issued) only half his lot was in the zone.

"Somebody's at fault," Jenson said. "My opinion of the city's inspector is terrible! I don't want to be tied up in court for a year, but I've hit a wall -- I don't know where to go next."

Jenson added that he did take time off from his job managing a plant in Pulaski this week to seek legal advice on the problems with his house from an attorney in Murfreesboro.

"Since you've spoken with an attorney we'll have no more comments," said Davis, and the meeting was adjourned.