"[This] situates the city to better prepare yourself to address whatever may be coming in the future."

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The City Council met Monday night to discuss pursuing a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (COPCN), which would allow the city to provide its own ambulance service should the county decide to reallocate its resources elsewhere.

Bruce Moeller – senior consultant for Fitch and Associates, the company hired to conduct an evaluation of the city’s emergency medical services (EMS) – presented his findings to the council.

“The work that we’ve done really was intended to try to frame the questions and make a recommendation that would put you in the best position recognizing the uncertainty in the future,” he said, referring to the county’s March referendum regarding the creation of an independent fire district.

The current system, Moeller explained, does not allow the city’s fire-rescue personnel to transport patients to the hospital, so based on that – and an analysis of the city’s current EMS response time, financial costs and other important data – he recommended that the city add an additional 24/7/365 EMS transport resource, which would require obtaining a COPCN.

“I’m not going to stand here and tell you there are significant problems in the system: there are not,” he said. “What there is, I believe, is some uncertainty with what’s happening countywide.”

And obtaining a COPCN would allow the city to have certainty – and control – with regards to its EMS services.

The benefits of the recommendation, Moeller said, include: doubling the dedicated transport capability on the island; allowing the county to redeploy its resources to improve services elsewhere, which could generate budget savings; and increasing the city’s capability for a timely ‘effective fire force.’

“We believe [this] situates the city to better prepare yourself to address whatever may be coming in the future with regard to [the] consolidation of fire-rescue systems [and] the transfer of EMS to an independent fire-rescue district,” he said.

The net operational cost of an additional ambulance would be $194,328.

Councilor Jared Grifoni noted that – because the island already has a seasonal ambulance – the second unit is really only beneficial during the off-season, which is when there are less calls anyway, but Moeller said the benefits still outweigh the potential consequences of a county-created independent fire district.

The council will continue its discussion of a COPCN in January.

In other business

The council recognized Fire Division Chief Chris Crossan for his 25 years of service. Crossan thanked his wife, two children and Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy for their support over the years.

The Big Flag Committee – which helps maintain the American flag near the Jolley Bridge – presented an $8,500 check to City Manager Roger Hernstadt on behalf of former Marco Island resident Bonnie Garrett, who recently turned 85. The committee also presented a folded American flag to Public Works Director Tim Pinter in honor of Dick Shanahan, who passed away in October.

The City Council also:

  • Approved the uniform method for collection of non-ad valorem assessments.
  • Appointed Frank Mulligan to the Planning Board
  • Approved the purchase of a portable for temporary housing for Fire Station 51 – which was irrevocably damaged after being struck by lightning this summer – in the amount of $57,312.80
  • Extended the holiday parking/cross sidewalk enforcement moratorium; repealing a resolution establishing requirements for resolution requests supporting citizen initiatives
  • Authorized the city attorney to negotiate the outstanding insurance claims pertaining to Fire Station 51.

The City Council’s next meeting is January 2017.

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