Franklin County Fire District 3 may not have ambulance services
FRANKLIN COUNTY, Wash. -- In November, voters in Franklin County's Fire District 3 said "NO" to an EMS Levy to help pay for ambulance service provided by the city of Pasco. Now, Fire Chief Les Litzenberger say he's trying to figure out a way to provide those emergency services to the 7,500 residents in the area without that money.
"December 31st is the end of our current contract. So we are between a rock and hard place," Litzenberger said.
The City of Pasco provided ambulance service to residents living near fire district three for about $30,000 a year for quite some time. But this year, the city council voted to change that rate to $90,000 next year, and $180,000 in 2014 leaving the Chief with not many options.
"We have asked to rejoin negotiations with the city on that price. We asked for them to extend the existing contract. We have to make something happen. The city has to cut us a break or we stand the potential, if we can't get licensed for basic life support , we stand the potential of being without emergency medical services," Litzenberger said.
So why such a steep increase and the levy? Litzenberger says council members feel that it is fair. "They look at it as an equality issue. They say the city residents are paying $75 a household and they say fire district residents should be paying the same."
But some residents in Franklin County who are also part of the donut hole feel this is in retaliation for not wanting to be annexed by the city. "The city makes about $250,000 a year on providing the ambulance service. It's free cash flow. If they decide they're not going to provide it anymore, the city will actually lose money from that," said Roger Lenk who has been battling annexation from day one.
"Not only are the residents of the donut hole being punished, but the citizens of Pasco are losing money," added Mark McFarlan another donut hole resident fighting annexation.
McFarlan says donut hole residents are looking into other options, contracting an ambulance service for less, but he says they don't have any concrete plans yet.
Litzenberger says they may have to get a license to provide basic life support, which is a step below ambulance support, but that process could take up to a year.