City dumps EMS search process
By JOHN SKIPPER, Of The Globe Gazette
MASON CITY — Mason City Council members voted Tuesday night to consider only the Mason City Fire Department as the city’s long-term ambulance provider.
The 4-2 action stops city participation in submission of proposals to the committee studying long-range ambulance proposals for Cerro Gordo and Worth counties.
Newly-elected Councilman Max Weaver presented four motions and got approval on each from newly-elected Jeff Marsters and from Leonard Foster and Don Nelson.
Council members Lori Henry and John Jaszewski strongly objected, saying the motions were made without any consideration for how much it would cost taxpayers. Also, they questioned the legality of voting on the motions since none were on the agenda.
“The taxpayers of Mason City just got screwed,” Jaszewski said after the vote.
During discussion, Henry said, “Absent from the motion is how it would be funded. We’ve been told ambulances cost about $100,000 and we need five or six. What about Medicare? What about Medicaid? What about a place to store the ambulances? I don’t think we’re ready to make a decision like this.”
Mayor Jean Marinos, who could not vote, called the decision “a knee-jerk reaction.”
But Weaver said the plan is an answer to what he called a “breach in the safety net,” a topic that he heard about numerous times in his campaign.
Henry said, “I’m really distressed by this. It’s appalling you would do this without knowing the budget impact. And there is no breach in the safety net. We have a short-term provider. It’s erroneous and dangerous to say there’s a breach.”
Weaver’s three other motions were:
* The calling of a meeting at 7 p.m. Jan. 14 in the Mason City Room of the library that would be a question-and-answer session for all entities in Cerro Gordo and Worth counties affected by the action.
* Writing letters of appreciation to long-term ambulance committee members and facilitator Joe Myhre.
* Asking City Administrator Tim Moerman to work with city staff to move the process along to make the fire department compliant with all that is neccessary for it to become the EMS provider.
Moerman told Weaver the city has been working on two possible proposals for the long-term committee — an individual proposal and one in which Mercy Medical Center-North Iowa would be a partner.
“We’re still working on it, but I can tell you right now that the proposal with Mercy is cheaper (for the taxpayers),” said Moerman. “Does this mean Mercy is out?”
Weaver said no. He also said it might be possible for the fire department to provide service to the outlying areas.
“We are in control and are moving this process forward,” said Weaver.
“You are railroading this through,” said Henry.
Afterward, she said, “Does anyone believe this wasn’t all discussed in advance? The mayor, the administrator and two council members had no idea this was coming. What kind of open government is that? I hope the people of Mason City will speak loud and clear on how their City Council acted tonight.”
Reach John Skipper at 421-0537 or email@example.com
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