A divided Franklin County Fiscal Court on Friday approved a new interlocal agreement with the City of Frankfort for emergency medical services.
Magistrates Lambert Moore, Sherry Sebastian and Scotty Tracy and Judge-Executive Huston Wells voted in favor of the agreement while Magistrates J.W. Blackburn and Michael Mueller voted against it. Magistrate Marti Booth was absent.
“We are right at a point where we are about to lose ambulance service in a month for our community,” said Wells, who was the last to vote, before affirming the action. “I’m disturbed that our chiefs have worked together on this and we’re one vote away ... . This could be the end of the ambulance service for our community. We are putting our citizens at a huge risk here.”
During the court’s work session, Blackburn said he would like to have “a solid number” in the contract for what the county should give and receive in return, like the number of personnel, which is determined by a formula in the agreement.
“Although this agreement is a little more favorable than the current agreement, I think there are several issues I find problematic and not in the best interests of the county and forms of oversight or financially,” Blackburn said before casting his vote.
Mueller said before his vote that he appreciated the work from the fire chiefs but said he didn’t feel comfortable signing an agreement that he believes is “open-ended.”
Tracy said he felt like the agreement that the court approved was better than the prior one but still felt that there was “opportunity to get better.” He voted to affirm the contract after hearing recommendations from county staff.
The agreement between the city and the county provides ambulance and emergency medical service to all citizens in both jurisdictions.
Franklin County Fire Chief Kevin Hutcherson told the court before its vote that he met with Frankfort Fire Chief Wayne Briscoe to discuss some changes to the existing agreement, which he said had “several good things” added to it.
One such change is that an advisory committee will meet at least once a year, or more if needed, and the city fire chief will update the committee on the anticipated operational budget for EMS. The new agreement incorporates a unified command and National Incident Management System and is a cooperative agreement. Hutcherson said the new agreement would give County Treasurer Susan Laurenson more notice to plan budgets for the year ahead.
The Frankfort City Commission is expected to vote on the agreement later this month. If adopted, it would last for seven years. The previous agreement was in place for 11 years, Hutcherson said. The current agreement was extended to stay in place until Nov. 29.