Florida City, County Resolve EMS Funding Dispute

St. Petersburg and Pinellas County end decades-long dispute


CHRISTOPHER O'DONNELL, The Tampa Tribune | | Thursday, June 19, 2014

St. Pete City Council set to agree resolution to the EMS funding dispute with the county and would mean no reduction in response times for medical 911 calls but stil allow the county to reduce its funding for the program.

The city council on Thursday unanimously approved a new three-year funding deal that city leaders say means no increase in the time it takes first responders to reach an emergency scene, but also satisfies the county's wish to rein in costs of the EMS system.

Under the proposal, the county will reduce EMS funding to the city by roughly $709,000 for the 2015 financial year, a cut of 5.7 percent from its $12.5 million annual funding. But the city will receive an extra $997,000 in 2016 and an increase of $784,000 in 2017.

Previously, the county had proposed cutting $1 million over three years based on a study that recommends fewer paramedics on duty overnight when the volume of 911 calls drops.

That led city leaders to threaten legal action, saying it would lengthen response times and put residents in danger.

The county will benefit from the agreement through long-term savings by linking future funding increases to a cost-of-living index, said Bruce Moeller, Pinellas County interim chief of staff.

The new contract also must be approved by county commissioners, likely at their next meeting June 24.

Agreement on the new contract is a sharp departure from recent contentious negotiations as county commissioners had pushed former County Administrator Bob LaSala to lower costs.

Commissioners then fired LaSala in April after a majority of them said his caustic leadership style led the county into too many disputes.

Major points of disagreement were hammered out at a meeting Sunday attended by Mayor Rick Kriseman, St. Petersburg Fire Chief James Large and interim County Administrator Mark Woodard, among others.

City Attorney John Wolfe said the change in leadership brought with it a new approach from the county.

They have shown in the negotiations a definite change in attitudes, Wolfe said. There's been more cooperation; they've listened to us for the first time in years.

The dispute stemmed from the county's wish to reduce the $40.4 million it pays annually to Pinellas' 18 fire districts to serve as medical first responders. Commissioners warned that the service paid for through a separate property tax was likely to go into the red if costs were not contained.

Its controversial proposal was based on a $300,000 study by Fitch and Associates that paramedics who serve as first responders on medical 911 calls switch from 24-hour to 14-hour shifts. That would have also meant funding cuts for Clearwater, Largo, Lealman and Pinellas Park and frozen funding for all districts for three years.

County leaders met with 17 of the county's 18 fire departments Wednesday and are making progress on a new approach, Moeller said.

We're going to model it after the agreement with St. Petersburg, he said. We're translating that now for other cities.


Mobile Category: 

Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy

Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, St. Petersburg, Pinellas County

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS


Get JEMS in Your Inbox


Fire EMS Blogs

Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts


EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Progress

Follow in the footsteps of these inspirational leaders of EMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

New Mexico Hospital Mourns Helicopter Crash Victims

TriState CareFlight pilot and crew killed in crash.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Deadly Mudslide In Central Japan Caught On Video

Mudslide in Japan caught on video by a security camera.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Wisconsin Medics Teach Officers to Administer Narcan

Germantown police are now treating heroin overdose patients.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Texas Medics save Pets in House Fire

Medics have their first save of animals.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Moscow Subway MCI

At least 20 dead and 150 injured in subway derailment.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Hands On July 2014

Check out the latest products and innovations in JEMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Wounded Veteran Resiliency

Marine is one of many in quality of life study.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

VividTrac offered by Vivid Medical - EMS Today 2013

VividTrac, affordable high performance video intubation device.
Watch It >

Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >

More Product Videos >