Johnson County Mayor Mike Taylor presents the Budget Committees recommendation to support EMS to the Johnson County Commission. Both parties were in favor of helping the organization. Photo by Meg Dickens.
By Meg Dickens
Brad Sutherland came before the Johnson County Commission during its September meeting to ask for financial help to replace equipment for the Johnson County Rescue Squad. Although illness stopped Sutherland from coming back for the October 15 meeting, the item came before both the County Commission and the Budget Committee. Both committees voted to help bankroll two new trucks for the Johnson County Emergency Rescue Squad.
Sutherland estimated truck prices in the middle of the spectrum, meaning neither the highest nor lowest costing vehicles. Those come to $175,000 per vehicle or a total of $350,000. County Mayor Mike Taylor met with Sutherland between City Council meetings to work out a plan to minimize cost while getting the needed equipment. Taylor’s idea is to apply for the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG).
“It’s a good way to ask the county to help without putting them out,” explained Taylor.
Johnson County applied and failed to obtain the CDBG this year for work on Cold Springs Road water. It is unclear why the grant fell through. According to Taylor, the grant writer believes it could have been too soon to reapply after local fire departments got the grant approximately four years ago to update equipment.
Right now may be the ideal time to try for a new cause. The COVID-19 Pandemic caused officials to lower the grant match rate, the amount the other party has to supply, from 14 percent to 9 percent. That reduces the original $350,000 cost down to $31,500. Additionally, Taylor reports that EMS said it would be more than willing to split that cost down the middle. That would leave the final county cost at a “one-time expenditure” of $15,750 in the 2021-2022 fiscal year.
The Johnson County Commission passed a motion of support towards this goal. The next step is to apply for the grant and wait. The next CDBG grant will be awarded in September 2021. Officials did not discuss a course of action for if this application fails.
The Johnson County Commission meets at 7 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Johnson County Courthouse. For m0ore information, visit johnsoncountytn.gov.