by Pam Zubeck
The City of Colorado Springs is on a path to hire its own ambulance service provider, and received bids in late May. City officials refuse to discuss those bids and won't even say how many were received.
The city went looking for its own provider because Mayor Steve Bach wants to see if, via negotiations, he can extract some $3 million to $3.5 million from the winning bidder. It's sort of a franchise fee, although the city calls it a reimbursement for the city's firefighters responding to medical calls.
Such fees imposed in other cities have led to sharp increases in the cost of ambulance rides.
To divorce itself from the regional Emergency Services Agency, though, the city needs to bail out of a regional agreement that dates to 1995.
Interim Fire Chief Tommy Smith says in a memo to City Council that it's time to give notice the city is pulling out. From the memo:
Since the creation of the ESA in 1995, ground emergency ambulance service has been provided within the City pursuant to contracts negotiated by the ESA. Due to changes in federal law, particularly the Affordable Care Act, CSFD anticipates that ground emergency ambulance services will change dramatically in the near future and will require creative, flexible coordination between CSFD and private ambulance providers. The current structure of the ESA creates bureaucratic hurdles to such flexibility and coordination and does not fully represent the City’s best interests. Accordingly, CSFD believes it is in the best interest of the City to terminate the City’s involvement with the ESA and to contract separately from the ESA for ground emergency ambulance services within the City. The current ESA IGA dated November 10, 2011 requires six months advance written notice prior to termination and mandates that termination may only occur on December 31 of any calendar year. Accordingly, in order to terminate the ESA IGA at the end of 2013 consistent with CSFD’s recommendation, the City must provide notice of its intent to terminate the IGA to the ESA and El Paso County, Colorado (“County”) by June 30, 2013. Should City Council elect to terminate the current ESA IGA, the City may explore a new IGA creating and regulating a new City-County cooperative agency.
The resolution, which is Item 15 on Tuesday's agenda for formal action, states in part, "The City will negotiate a division of assets with the County, work with the ESA Board to wind-up and liquidate the assets of the ESA, and otherwise cooperate with the County and ESA Board as required by the terms of the ESA IGA."
The other two dozen or so members of the ESA have hired a consultant to analyze the agency's options with the city out of the picture.