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City of Madras, Jefferson County promise funds to help get discussion on track.

HOLLY GILL/MADRAS PIONEER - From right, Jefferson County Fire District Chief Brian Huff, moderator Katrina VanDis, administrative assistant LeeAnn Patton, Lt. Kirk Hagman, of JCFDD, standing, and Tim Gassner, attorney for the district, participate in a work session in September 2018.Both the Madras City Council and the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners have agreed to put money toward paying a facilitator to help with talks about ambulance service in the county.

After a study recommended merging Jefferson County Fire District No. 1 and the Jefferson County Emergency Management Services District, JCEMS pushed back, saying it has new funding sources and has made changes in its billing to make its service model more sustainable, while the fire district says it needs revenue.

Madras City Administrator Gus Burril told the City Council on Dec. 10 that a task force has been holding monthly meetings for two or three months.

"There's a consensus the group would like to have a facilitator to work toward common goals," Burril said.

"How close are we to any kind of agreement?" City Councilor Royce Embanks asked.

Burril said he doesn't sense any kind of agreement, and that is why a facilitator is necessary.

"I think the reason this is important is because we have four agencies," added City Councilor Bartt Brick, who is also on the task force, "... and none of those organizations at this point totally agree on what the problem is" or what the range of solutions might be.

"I understand the frustration," Burril said. "We spent some money on the initial report that nobody's happy with."

Brick said a facilitator from the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council is being recommended to "corral these stray cats a little bit. And I'm certainly one of those stray cats, so I'm not speaking out of turn."

Burril said the first step would be developing a consensus about what is trying to be achieved.

"We need to figure out something," Mayor Richard Ladeby said.

The council unanimously agreed to pay $1,200 to $1,500 toward the cost of a facilitator.

At the Board of Commissioners meeting Dec. 18, Commissioner Wayne Fording said the task force is trying to get all four of the entities represented to commit some money.

Among other things, he said the task force needs to establish who its members are. Currently, "you just have people showing up," he said.

The board voted unanimously to commit up to $3,000, though the discussion included perhaps paying only a certain ratio of the total. Fording said the fire district and the city of Madras had made verbal commitments. He had not heard whether JCEMS would contribute.

"Motion carries," Commission Chairwoman Mae Huston said after the vote. "We will be the team player that helps to keep the ball rolling."

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