By Ken de la Bastide
Tribune staff writer
With the decision by the city of Kokomo to end the inter-local agreement for the joint operation of the Howard County Emergency Management Agency, county officials have started the process of reorganizing the agency.
The Howard County Commissioners Thursday passed an ordinance establishing the Howard County Department of Emergency Management and Advisory Council effective Tuesday.
Earlier this year, Kokomo terminated the inter-local agreement with the county which necessitated the formation of EMA as a county department and the naming of a new advisory council.
The advisory council will consist of appointments by the Howard County Council, Howard County commissioners, mayor of Kokomo, representatives from Greentown and Russiaville and any other representatives deemed necessary to assist the department.
Larry Smith was named interim director. He has been director of EMA for almost three decades.
The ordinance makes EMA personnel employees of the county and requires the Howard County Council to provide adequate funding.
Larry Murrell, Howard County attorney, said members of the advisory council will appoint a director.
He said the current council was formed under the joint operating agreement with the city. There are currently six members of the advisory council.
Murrell said since the joint agreement with the city ended there would be no more EMA without passage of the ordinance.
“We created a new department,” he said. “We need to get the advisory council up and running. It could be the same people.”
Prior to 2013, the city of Kokomo provided 55 percent of the funding for EMA and Howard County contributed 45 percent. The Howard County Council approved a budget of $298,544 for next year, which was $40,000 less than EMA operated on this year.
In October, the city turned over the EMA vehicles to Howard County, with the exception of a tanker truck for the fire department.