EMSA Funding Debated

Tuesday, March 27th 2007, 2:36 pm

By: News On 6

The city of Tulsa is planning to pay for subsidizing EMSA with a monthly fee on utility bills. City officials say Tulsa might start collecting the money to pay for an increasing subsidy to the ambulance service. The News On 6’s Emory Bryan reports the discussion became heated when several Tulsa city councilors claimed they didn't know they were on a short deadline to solve EMSA's money troubles.

"Two days, how did we get to voting on something this important on the last two days? What's going to happen? Is EMSA going to go broke?" said Councilor Jack Henderson.

Even though some councilors were upset, they've been briefed on EMSA's financial problems several times over the last few years. In a 2005 council meeting, EMSA predicted the financial problems the council now has to solve. They're supposed to vote on a possible solution Thursday night.

"We have to make up this shortfall or in July we'd have to reduce the number of unit hours on the street," said Steve Williamson of EMSA.

That means fewer ambulances unless EMSA gets more money and soon. The idea is to pay for EMSA with a monthly $3.64 fee that comes out to just over $43 a year. The fee would be included on utility bills.

"I would rather see us find the money elsewhere other than assessing a water bill fee to the citizens," said Councilor Bill Christiansen.

The city council isn't united on whether there is a crisis, much less on how to fix the problem. Councilor Roscoe Turner says his constituents don't want to pay a fee to keep EMSA operating.

"I'm not having to worry about you think, I'm worrying about what my people think out here," said Turner.

If the Tulsa city council doesn't approve the monthly fee, city taxpayers will still have to pick up the subsidy. City officials say the money would come out the general fund, taking money that would otherwise be used to fix potholes and pay for the operations of the city.

Related story:

03/22/07 EMSA Costs Could Be Added To Utility Bills

For more information about EMSA, visit their website at www.emsaonline.com.

To find your Tulsa city councilor, click here.

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