Germantown rejects plans to operate its own ambulance service
Feb. 12--The Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen, citing economic uncertainties, on Monday night rejected the latest plans for the suburb to provide in-house ambulance service.
The rejection came on a 3-2 vote with Aldermen Forrest Owens and Rocky Janda, both elected last November, joining Alderman Mike Palazzolo in opposing a policy change that would have cleared the way for the city to start the service July 1.
"I think I speak probably for Alderman Janda and myself, (I hoped we would have) a moratorium or just a couple of months before we had to make these really gut-wrenching decisions," Owens said in explaining his reasons for opposing the concept.
Aldermen John Drinnon and Greg Marcom voted in favor of the policy. The defeat of that measure led Mayor Sharon Goldsworthy's administration to ask for a delay on a companion agenda item rejecting bids from private contractors to provide the service in the suburb.
City Administrator Patrick Lawton said the administration would look at the private bids and consider continuing under the county contract with Rural/Metro. He said it was too early to determine which option is the best route.
The city will need to make a decision soon in order to prepare for the upcoming fiscal year budget that begins July 1. A new county ambulance contract also will begin that day.
Fire Chief John Selberg, who had worked on studies to convince the board that in-house service was the best option, was visibly bothered by the rejection, but declined comment on the vote.
Germantown has looked many times at doing ambulance service in-house since at least 1992. The current county contract with Rural/Metro expires June 30. All of the suburbs -- except Bartlett, which has its own ambulances -- are served by Rural/Metro. The individual cities pay their share of the contract based on the number of calls answered in their boundaries.
Under the current contract, Germantown pays about $477,000 annually.
The city's study showed the costs could run about $1.5 million annually in the fiscal year beginning in July, and the city would need to spend more than $600,000 in start-up costs, most of that expense in the purchase of four ambulances.
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