BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – Lee County Supervisors approved combining the county’s Emergency Management Coordinator position, and the Director of Operations of the new county ambulance service, into one job.
Jason Dinwiddie, the Lee County Emergency Management Agency coordinator will now serve at the coordinator for LCEMA and as the Director of Operations for the new county-run ambulance service, under Director Dennis Cosby.
At Monday’s regular Board of Supervisors meeting, still being held with a virtual option, Board Chair Matt Pflug said Dinwiddie had a separate position as DoO of the ambulance and had indicated he could handle both positions.
“I’m confident that he can do both positions and it will save the county some money,” Pflug said.
“I will tell you that we talked about it and if it didn’t work out he would be the first to tell us. Or (Lee County Sheriff) Stacy Weber said he would keep a close eye on that as well.”
Weber said the idea was also vetted through the LCEMA.
“We brought it up to the commission and either way we would have lost Jason in April. But I’m as confident as you are that Jason should be able to handle both jobs and we’re here to help him if he needs anything.”
Pflug said he asked Dinwiddie if the county found itself in a disaster situation would he be able to pivot and do both roles.
“And he indicated he could,” Pflug said.
The new salary or cost savings to the county weren’t addressed at the board meeting. Questions posed to the supervisors through the virtual chat regarding the combined new salary and cost savings to the county weren’t addressed.
However, Dinwiddie provided data after the meeting confirming a $14,000 annual salary as LCEMA coordinator in the next fiscal year starting July 1, and a salary of $66,560 per year with the ambulance service on the same date. The EMA salary had been budgeted at $38,716 prior to establishing the combined position.
Because of the reduced salary, the county/city revenues in the 2022 fiscal year budget were reduced from $49,946 to $26,052, which represents a projected savings to the county of about $24,000 per year.
Dinwiddie also said the county will see additional savings in equipment purchases that won’t be duplicated.
Dinwiddie told the board that he contacted several other county EMA commissioners who serve in similar dual roles and doesn’t see there being a problem.
“I’m very confident that we can combine these two positions and make both of them thrive,” he said.
“Like I said, we can save county taxpayer money by doing this. I did a lot of research and contacted other coordinators throughout Iowa that are already doing this. I didn’t want to get myself into a position that wouldn’t work.”
Supervisor Ron Fedler said it was a “perfect match” for the county.
“Jason has a done a lot of ambulance work with Lee County EMS and because of that I’d make the motion to combine the EMS director and Director of Operations positions.”
Pflug said it was critical that the county launch the new ambulance service correctly.
“It’s very important that we get this thing off the ground, and we get it right the first time. It’s so critical for the people of Lee County that we get this thing done right and with these two guys, we’re gonna achieve that.”
Dinwiddie was hired as the Director of Operations after Dennis Cosby was hired as overall director of the county-run operation.
In other action, the county
• approved a request from Lee County Engineer Ben Hull to purchase two new tractors for the county at a combined cost of just over $238,000
• approved the first reading of an ordinance creating a nine-member commission to oversee and manage the county’s pioneer cemeteries.
• approved priorities for granting historic property rehabilitation tax exemptions for properties listed on the National Registry of Historic Places, or historical properties/sites as defined by Iowa Code 303.2