Edwardsville reviews new EMS options
The city of Edwardsville will move forward with a plan to create its own ambulance service by July of next year, though some Edwardsville City Council members are still worried about the cost.
The council discussed the issue at its Monday meeting, and Mike Webb, city manager, told the council it finally had a contract proposed by the Kansas City Kansas Fire Department, which has been providing ambulance services to the city for the last several years. But the council gave a general consensus to move forward with the process of creating its own ambulance service and inform Kansas City, Kan., that Edwardsville may no longer need its services after July 1.
Webb reminded the council that the city had an agreement with the county for emergency medical services, but the contract expired in December 2010. Since then, they have been operating on a year to year agreement for services from July 1 to June 30 of the next year, and the costs charged by the KCKFD continue to increase by up to $75,000 per year.
A year ago, the city nearly hired a private firm, which had quoted a contract cost of $245,000 annually for three years, but the council ultimately voted against the contract.
Webb told the council that the county’s contract proposes the city pay $112,500 for the rest of this year, and then $250,000 for the calendar year of 2014 and $275,000 in 2015. Webb said while the fire department has done an excellent job, the city would like better response times and a guaranteed annual cost. Response times now average about eight minutes for ambulance; Edwardsville’s Fire Department, because it is located within the city, aveages a response time of three minutes, 26 seconds.
During the city’s 2014 budget process, when the city didn’t yet have a contract proposed from KCKFD, the council reached a concensus of support for the concept of creating an in-house ambulance service. Webb said while staff has done a lot of research, he wants the council to meet in workshops to learn about the process.
“I want to make sure have council members educated on process before we take that final step and start spending money,” he said.
He said while the city might be able to rush the process and get its own ambulance service started by Jan. 1, 2014, he would feel more comfortable waiting until at least July 1.
Webb asked final approval from the council so staff could start the process and also inform the KCKFD of its intentions. He said the city would include a possible contract extension with KCKFD through the rest of 2014 if Edwardsville was unable to get its ambulance service in place by July 1.
Webb estimated that it would cost the city about $300,000 to $325,000 to start its own service.
“It may not be the cheapest alternative,” Webb said. “It’s not necessarily what’s cheaper to do, it’s what’s safer.”
Councilwoman Margaret Shriver was concerned that the cost may be more than what city staff expects. She said if that was the case, she wouldn’t vote to increase taxes in order to fund the service.
Webb said the council may want to consider asking citizens to again vote on a sales tax that would fund emergency services, similar to the one in Bonner Springs.
Other council members agreed it was time for the city to create its own service. Garrett Mellott said he would rather see the city’s money used in-house, and he also said he supported asking voters to consider a sales tax to fund the service. He stated that the decision was “no reflection on KCK firefighters,” who have been doing a great job.
Councilman Jason Gillam did not attend the meeting.
In other business, the council:
• Approved a resolution regarding the assignment and consent to a subordination fee agreement for OBP Kansas LLC bond project, where the XpedX building will be constructed. The site’s lease is changing hands; the change won’t affect the term of the property’s abatement or the term of the bonds, according to the city’s bond counsel.
• Approved a final plan amendment for the Plaza West – Shannahan Crane & Joist, 10901 Kaw Dr., for an additional accessory building.
• Approved the minutes of the Aug. 26 meeting.
• Approved payment of bills totaling $101,189.
• Presented service awards to Kevin Schuler, David Sledd, Sheila Rogoza, Nicholas Walker and Warren Robinson for years of service.