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Tennessee Council Delays Ambulance Vote, Approves Trash Pickup

Germantown's Financial Advisory Commission voted Tuesday night to delay a decision on whether to recommend that the city Fire Department should run its own ambulance service until questions about costs are answered.

The same commission approved a two-tiered pricing approach for trash pickup service that would give residents incentives for recycling and lower cost for curbside service .

Currently, Germantown households pay $24.50 a month for backyard pickup, but about half of the residents take their garbage carts to the curb, along with their recycling bins.

City officials say the garbage service should be about the same cost or lower than what it is now depending if a resident decides to stay with backyard service or agrees to go to curbside pickup.

While the issue of garbage service sailed through the commission, that wasn't the case for the Fire Department-run ambulance service issue.

In making a presentation about the Fire Department's request, commissioner Paul Volpe handed out his own analysis of what the city would pay if it goes into the ambulance service business versus what it could cost if the city stays within a new contract with Rural/Metro Corporation's ambulance service.

Volpe projected the city's cost would be $4.4 million more than if it stayed with Rural/Metro. His numbers showed the city spending $7.5 million compared to the Rural/Metro contract for $3.1 million over a seven-year period.

"We had the Fire Department drop a bomb on us," Volpe said. That was the reason why Volpe said he was one of two who voted against sending a recommendation to the full board. The subcommittee vote about two weeks ago was 4-2 in favor of recommending it to the full Financial Advisory Commission.

"How it was presented was totally irresponsible," Commissioner Eddie Cox said. He voted in favor of sending a recommendation for a city-run ambulance service to the full board.

To which Volpe replied, "I think your vote was irresponsible."

Several commissioners wanted specific breakdowns on the costs, including "what that translates into as a property tax increase," said Commissioner Walter Krug.

At times, the issue over the Fire Department's request to run an ambulance service was a heated and emotional one for some members.

The Financial Advisory Commission is made up of residents who volunteer their time to serve on the advisory board and give the city guidance on financial matters.

City officials could not give the commission members the possible fees involved for garbage service yet because it was advertised as a "request for service" rather than a request for competitive, sealed bids.

Both Memphis and Bartlett run an ambulance service through their fire departments.



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