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Wisconsin County Considers Ending Paramedic Funding

While Milwaukee County talks about ending its $3 million a year in paramedic funding for suburbs, officials in Greenfield and West Allis know how to deal with the possibility.

In the case of Greenfield, officials are looking into whether there is another way to provide paramedic services. Currently, Greenfield and many other Milwaukee County communities contract with Milwaukee County for paramedics.

That might change, said Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke, who was given the go-ahead by the Common Council to explore alternatives.

The trigger for the inquiry was the possible loss of county money. In Greenfield's case, that amounts to about $250,000 a year, Neitzke said.

Greenfield paramedics are usually the ones called to rescue people in Hales Corners and Greendale, which have no paramedics, he said.

In West Allis, county funding comes to about $168,000, said Mayor Dan Devine. Losing that would be a blow.

"It would be another hole in our budget and our budget is tough already," Devine said.

Devine is hoping that the fight to keep funding will be successful again. Back in 2004 to 2008 when he was on the County Board, he helped fight for paramedic funding when it was threatened, he said.

Franklin Mayor Tom Taylor is leading the fight for continued county paramedic funding as chief negotiator for the paramedics communities. County Executive Chris Abele calls the county's $3 million a subsidy, Taylor said, but community leaders "see it as a way of continuing to do business. It's the grease that makes it happen." Even with the $3 million, Taylor said he was already having a hard time keeping all the communities with the paramedic program.

"Some communities just can't make it," he said.

He and other heads of suburban governments and fire chiefs met last week to plan a strategy for continuing county funding.



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