Marco officials optimistic about interlocal agreement negotiations with Collier County

Devan Patel
Marco Eagle
A Collier County EMS ambulance sits inside Marco Island's Station 50.

Less than three weeks out, Marco Island city officials are optimistic the framework of an interlocal agreement can be worked with Collier County before the Board of Commissioners votes on whether to grant a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity.

Last month, county officials voted to continue its discussion on Marco Island’s application to have some local control of emergency medical services after some discomfort that no interlocal agreement was in place.

Finance Director and Interim City Manager Gil Polanco.

Acting City Manager Guillermo Polanco said he wanted to have the draft reviewed by the City Council at its June 18 meeting ahead of the Board of Commissioner’s June 26 discussion.

While the majority of terms have been agreed upon, Polanco said there were still a few operational and policy issues that had to be worked out including:

  • Zonal coverage and closest unit dispatch
  • Reciprocal backup
  • Marco Island not recouping ad valorem taxes
  • Marco Island's insistence on having its own medical director

More:No action taken on Marco Island COPCN application

More:COPCN debate continues ahead of Collier County BOC action

More:Marco Island, Collier County continue back-and-forth on ambulance issue

The Marco Island City Council approved moving forward with a three-prong plan in June last year in hopes of securing a second full-time ambulance for the island and having local control of some emergency medical services.

In the past, Marco Island's attempts to secure additional resources have fallen short after county officials deemed that there wasn't a need. The only progress that has been made is adding a second ambulance during season.

The City Council's plan included negotiating with the county for the second ambulance, working with state legislators on a local bill to bypass the need for county authorization and submitting a COPCN application.

Gov. Rick Scott signed a bill in March that will allow Marco Island residents the opportunity to vote Aug. 28 on whether they want local control of emergency medical services.

As part of the state's conditions for issuing a COPCN, Marco needs to hold the referendum, have a third-party financial analysis done and submit a COPCN application to the county.

An estimate completed by Fitch & Associates indicated Marco Island would need an additional $2 million in revenue to fund its EMS services, which will be partially offset by the receipt of transport revenues.

Per the ballot language, it will cost taxpayers an additional $100 per $500,000 taxable valuation should the majority vote in favor of local control.

The Collier County Emergency Medical Authority also recommended the county issue a COPCN to Marco Island with conditions.

Thus far, staffs from Marco Island and Collier County have agreed to the following terms:

  • Holding the referendum
  • Ambulance coverage for Goodland
  • Follow Collier County EMS transport protocols
  • Marco Island job postings will not include wording "county-credentialed"
  • Establishing a start date for service
  • Placing three ambulances in service at the start
  • Using the same statistical data reporting system
  • Quality insurance review
Marco Island Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy

Fire-Rescue Chief Mike Murphy said he left the meeting with county staff feeling positive that the operations side could be worked after he presented an agreement similar to the one the county wrote for the Seminole Tribe of Florida for its COPCN.

“I think they came to the meeting with a lot of demands and the demands we’re really on Marco’s side without (reciprocity) from their side,” Murphy said. “When we left the meeting, I believe there was a clear understanding of the reciprocal response and the capabilities we all bring to the table and the benefit not only to Marco but to the county.”

Chairperson Jared Grifoni praised Polanco and Murphy for their efforts in hammering out the agreement and also expressed optimism that both sides could come to a consensus on the unresolved issues.

“A couple big issues remain but we’ll get through that,” Grifoni said.

More:Marco Island Council approves COPCN ballot referendum

More:Leaders push for increasing level of care at Marco Island ambulance town hall

More:EMA board recommends conditional COPCN for Marco Island