MOLINE, IL – The Moline city council has voted to privatize Emergency medical services and lay off 12 firefighters. Aldermen were split on the issue, with four voting for the budget-saving measure and four voting against it. The mayor broke the tie by voting for the 2012 budget, which privatized EMS.
Aldermen discussed safety concerns and debated if privatization would save the city money.
“I’m just looking at it from a financial point of view. What are the real numbers, because we’ve heard real numbers from A to Z.? If the citizens of Moline are willing to fully fund EMS services and support personnel the tax rate would have to be readjusted,” says 4th Ward Alderman Ted Ronk.
“I would compare this call to privatize EMS in order to save pension costs being a boat that’s taking on water and trying to bail out with a Dixie cup. Why would we cut personnel that all but pays for it?” adds 7th Ward Alderman Sean Liddell.
The firefighter’s union says this fight is not over. It will start negotiating with the city in January and the union says the goal is to save the 12 jobs.
“We’ve been told from the beginning that it’s not over until July 1st. We’ve got some options from our union negotiations,” says President of the Moline Firefighters Union Brian Vyncke.
“Even though today ended badly for us, we think there is still the opportunity for us to continue this fight,” adds Moline firefighter Luis Puentes.
Now that a decision has been made, the city has to see which hospitals and ambulance services are interested in the job. The city has certain expectations from interested EMS providers. The city administrator says the city would like the provider to offer to purchase Moline’s three ambulances, employ as many of the 12 firefighters who will be laid off, and consider leasing ambulance space at Moline’s two fire stations.
City leaders hope to have applications from those interested back by early February. If the city does not like what it receives, it can continue its search. However, the city would like to have a service provider lined up by early March and start private EMS service by July.
The fire department’s EMS is in the city’s budget until the end of June. The cuts are a part of the city’s plan to balance a $1.7 million budget deficit.