Rescue Squad Coverage Discussed South of The Metro

Committee talk on emergency coverage between the Plattsmouth Rural Fire District and the City of Plattsmouth.

The topic is the interlocal agreement between the two entities concerning EMS and fire department services. It’s a topic that the Plattsmouth City Council has discussed behind closed doors 11 times since December of 2011.

The background provided by the Cassgram said an interlocal agreement between the City of Plattsmouth and the Plattsmouth Rural Fire District was signed in March of 2010. The 7-page, 26-point agreement said the rural district will reimburse the city 25.5% of the agreed upon costs for fire and rescue services in the three-year agreement that renews automatically unless two years notice is given. The agreement came after several months of uncertainty about rescue service. After the contract was signed the city proceeded with the hiring of a rescue manager and a paramedic team. At the time of the 2010 contract signing, City Councilman and Plattsmouth Emergency Services Board Chairman Terry Kerns said the hiring plan could not have continued without the participation of the rural district. (Archives 3/16/2010)

The contract remains in effect now but the rural board indicated 14 months ago it had concerns about what it perceives as inequities in the agreement.

The city council appointed a special committee 13 months ago.

Cassgram interviewed the rural fire board secretary and then the mayor and city administrator last month.

The rural district board wants to be considered a “partner” with the city on Plattsmouth EMS and Plattsmouth fire department services, said rural fire board secretary Ken Winters, but rural district board members didn’t see any progress toward that end in 2012 as no meetings on contract points were held. Letters from rural board president John Holdridge dated in August of 2012 stated the board’s concerns.

Then, at the November 2012 rural board meeting, the board passed a motion to “submit a letter to the City setting a termination date for the interlocal agreement for the end of the 2013/14 fiscal year.” Holdridge signed the letter of termination at the meeting and attempted to hand deliver it to Mayor Mike Bowman who was attending the meeting. The meeting minutes said that when Bowman was asked to sign an acknowledgement of receipt of the letter, Bowman was advised not to sign it by City Administrator Erv Portis.

“We believe the interlocal agreement is in effect until June 30th, 2016,” said Portis in the interview last month. Any agreement can probably be improved, he said. Passing along a message to the rural board during the interview, “Come to the table and let’s talk,” said Portis.

“Quality service at the most affordable cost” is the goal of all parties involved, said Mayor Bowman. In a November letter addressed to the rural board, Bowman wrote “the City believes that a fresh start, rather than amending existing agreements, may be necessary.”

Both Portis and Bowman said the city is not going to discuss possible negotiation points publicly or through the news media.

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