Monday, October 18, 2021

Council Moves Step Closer on Ambulance Issue

Photo by Steve “Stef” Stefanides

At their last meeting, Marco Island City Council moved one step closer to obtaining Collier County’s approval for a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (COPCN) for the city to operate it’s own advanced life support and transport ambulance.

Commissioners directed county staff and the city to move forward and draft an acceptable Interlocal Agreement for Emergency Medical Services which would give the city’s fire rescue services the right to do that, while providing a general outline of the specifics of responsibilities, terms and conditions.

Marco Island Fire Rescue Chief Mike Murphy and Deputy Chief David Batiato have been working with county staff to draft an acceptable agreement. Their latest proposal was presented to the council at their meeting, and Murphy pointed out two items he still had issue with.

The first of those items dealt with the city agreeing not to seek reimbursement for ad-valorem taxes collected by the county for EMS services. The second involved language inserted by the county concerning termination of the agreement and its automatic renewal each year. Those two items will be issues of discussion when the city’s delegation meets with the County Commissioners at the June 26 meeting in their chambers at the county complex in Naples starting at 9 AM.

The city was granted the right to apply directly to State of Florida by a special bill presented by the local legislative delegation and passed by the Florida State Legislature earlier this year. That would occur should they not be able to come to terms with the county, or the county was to turn down their application. The actual license is granted by state, but usually requires a positive recommendation from the county.

One of the provisions of that legislation required that the city voters approve the move to establish their own EMS services by referendum on August 28 of this year. That will coincide with the primary and school board elections are held regardless of whether the county approves the petition for a COPCN. Jerry Swiacki, chairman Our City Our Ambulance (OCOA), the group supporting the move to obtain the city’s license, urged all voters to come out on August 28, or request a mail-in ballot to make their vote.

Proponents of the change have been lobbying councilors and local groups and residents for their support. Discussions regarding the issue have sometimes involved debate from the dais as to whether enough information and a balanced flow of facts have been presented to residents.

At council’s last meeting they gave their support to Chief Murphy and his delegation for the document with amendments that he presented to them.

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