Jerry Gruber and Mark Miller are going to be even busier now that the general manager of Cambria’s ser vices district and fire chief, respectively, also will be acting as administrators of the North Coast’s ambulance service.
It only took directors of the Cambria Community Services District 15 minutes to make that unanimous decision on June 28, but behind the vote were years of discussions and negotiations about the agencies sharing services, personnel and/or locations. The healthcare district board unanimously approved the contract at a special meeting June 11.
The impetus for making the move now was the June 29 retirement of longtime Cambria Community Healthcare District Administrator Don Melendy. He
had “retired” before, but came back at the request of trustees wrestling with the future of the agency he loved and with which his family had been involved since the 1970s.
Melendy has said this retirement is permanent, although he could be available to advise and train.
Under the terms of the six-month long contract— kind of a testing ground for the concept, which also allows the healthcare district trustees more time to plot their agency’s future — Gruber and Miller will charge the healthcare district $50 an hour, money that would go into the services district’s general fund.
Gruber said June 28 that the two men are aiming to put in about 18 hours of work a week, which would be similar to Melendy’s previous, part-time schedule.
This is expected to be the first step toward further melding or sharing between the two districts, which could be accomplished through a joint powers agreement (JPA). That would allow each district to retain its own identity, board and taxing authority, elements each board has indicated they don’t want to relinquish.
“This is a huge step toward possibly heading toward a JPA of some kind,” Gruber said.
Services district Director Mike Thompson said “the whole notion of shared ser vices makes way too much sense” to ignore the possibilities. “The ultimate goal is to improve the level of service.”
Healthcare district board President Kristi Jenkins said it will take “all of us to figure out how we’re going to make this happen … for the benefit of the residents of Cambria” and the rest of the North Coast.