Friday, August 16, 2019

City fire department won't get ambulance contract

Posted By on Fri, Aug 16, 2019 at 4:58 PM

click to enlarge The Colorado Springs Fire Department won't be chosen to provide emergency ambulance service in vehicles like these. - PAM ZUBECK
  • Pam Zubeck
  • The Colorado Springs Fire Department won't be chosen to provide emergency ambulance service in vehicles like these.

Mayor John Suthers has notified the Colorado Springs Fire Department (CSFD) he's eliminated the "insource" option for taking over emergency ambulance service in Colorado Springs.

The CSFD was among those submitting proposals after the city re-opened the selection process last year, as we reported here and, most recently, here.

David Noblitt, spokesperson for the International Association of Fire Fighters Local 5, tells the Independent the notification cited three reasons why the city chose to rule out in-sourcing ambulance service by firefighters:

• The Taxpayer's Bill of Rights' limits. TABOR caps the amount of new revenue the city can collect annually, unless voters allow the city to keep the excess.

• Issue 300, adopted by city voters in 2009, which bars the city from transferring money to and from enterprises, such as the Stormwater Enterprise Fund, which was defunded following the 2009 vote.

• Rules of enterprises. Again, TABOR dictates what type of service can be considered an enterprise based on how much money an enterprise received from the city.

All three issues cited result from the activism of local anti-taxer Douglas Bruce, who authored and petitioned for the passage of TABOR and Issue 300. The city hasn't released the notification, which we assume would provide more details of their reasons for not pursuing the public option.

"If these things were already rules in play from before this process was undertaken ... why would they allow the time, energy and resources to move forward [with a CSFD proposal] when they knew they would shut it down?" Noblitt asks.

"To me," he adds, "that doesn't speak too well for the leadership of the city administration and Fire Department. The question to labor [Local 5] is why would you undertake a process when you knew it wouldn't conform to the rules in the first place?"

Asked about that, Mayor's spokesperson Jamie Fabos said in a statement:
The City felt it had a responsibility to examine all options in order to identify the best model for the community. And the City considered the factors you reference, but chose to fully investigate to see if there was a way this model could work despite or within the confines of Issue 300 and TABOR.
Fire Chief Ted Collas calls the solicitation "a fair process, with the intention of securing the best EMS system for our citizens."

He disagreed that the Fire Department's proposal was a waste of time and resources.

"The time, energy and effort of the employees on the Insource Team are to be commended," he says. "For reasons stated in my email to CSFD personnel, the Insource option was ultimately eliminated."

The selection process continues with the city analyzing for-profit companies' proposals. The identity of the bidders hasn't been released officially, but American Medical Response (AMR) of Greenwood Village, the current provider, along with past bidder Priority Ambulance of Knoxville, Tennessee, have told the Indy they’re vying for the contract.  

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