Columbia County - Lake City
Soon everybody will be a winner
Columbia County, FL (posted
February 10, 2010, at 04:30am)
Monday morning, February 8, 2010, at 10:00am, County
Manager Dale Williams and City Manager Wendell Johnson
met in the Courthouse Annex conference room to work out
a plan to resolve the longstanding City-County EMS
debate. After some small talk about the weekend's Super
Bowl, they got right down to business.
Both managers agreed that the issue was about funding
and that once this issue was worked out, nothing will
change. EMS will function the same.
CM Williams said there was some talk that before the
morning's sit-down that a deal had already been cut.
Both managers agreed that this was not the case.
CM Johnson said that once he and the County Manager
reach an understanding everything should come pretty
easy, also telling CM Williams that he was sure that a
cost benefit analysis was the way to go.
CM Johnson also recommended that the county-city use
an independent consultant with whom neither of them have
CM Johnson said that the $250,000 obligation that the
county believes the city owes should be paid. CM Johnson
also said that the obligation may be $450,000 or a
$150,000, "I don't know. That is what the cost benefit
analysis will tell us."
CM Johnson said that he personally thought the
$250,000 number was pretty close based on his own
crunching of the numbers and he also voiced concern that
if Lake City is excluded from the EMS county response
area the county will lose a lot of money on calls that
they will no longer respond to inside the city.
CM Williams said that he agreed with the City
Manager. He said his main purpose is to resolve a major
part of the situation that goes beyond funding and
explained that the County's EMS staff is being run
ragged with the amount of calls they are handling.
CM Williams said, "The best thing from my viewpoint
is to have a cooperative agreement."
CM Johnson was still concerned that the County
Commission would reject the cost benefit analysis after
it was completed. He asked, "Do you think the County
Commission will be bound by the results of the analysis
as far as cost sharing?"
CM Williams, "I've not asked them, but I think they
would." He continued, "If there is a third party
impartial assessment, I don't see why they wouldn't."
The managers agreed that the county and the city will
split the cost of the independent analysis equally and
they have until the end of the budget year to get the
The city will take care of putting the RFP for the
consultant out to bid and a committee from both
governing bodies will hire the consultant from the
CM Williams said, "I want you to be more comfortable
with who we pick than we are."
CM Johnson reiterated his earlier remarks saying that
the consultant would be someone with whom neither of
them had previous relationships.
CM Williams repeated that his goal is to enhance the
EMS department with the money received from the city.
"My goal is to do something for those employees who are
running way too many calls."
CM Johnson asked if the presence of an EMS unit in
the city would continue once everything was settled.
CM Williams said that would have to be decided.
The Managers agreed, after a short conversation, that
the COPCN (Certificate of Public Necessity and Need)
would remain the same as it has been since 1998, as it
already encompasses the whole county. The license
renewal will also remain the same as it now also
encompasses the whole county.
CM Williams said he didn't think there would be any
CM said Johnson he didn't want to be in the EMS
CM Johnson will put out the RFP. If he finds it can't
be piggybacked the RFP will be put out on
Onvia's Demand Star.
If there is anything else in particular the county or
the city wants to add to the study, their respective
boards will be responsible for paying for that.
With the cool heads of the county and city managers
looking to resolve their respective municipal
differences the city-county EMS debate is headed into
the final round.
This time it looks like everyone will come out a