I first want to thank City Council Chair Jared Grifoni for giving us the opportunity to vote on the proposal to have Marco Island get its own ambulance service (officially known as a “Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity” or COPCN). His putting the trust in our residents rather than some elected officials to decide this matter is greatly appreciated. I do, however have a number of concerns with this proposal. Specifically:
“NECESSITY”– I have not seen any evidence of the “necessity” for Marco Island to have its own ambulance service. From the data I have seen the County’s ambulance service to Marco Island is excellent, exceeds all government standards and provides ambulance service response to Marco better than for Naples. In addition, I understand that the County is willing to provide a year-round 2nd ambulance for Marco Island at a reasonable and, more importantly, fixed fee.
“COSTS”– All that has been stated are the costs to Island taxpayers in the short term. My concern is the long range cost impact of additional employees and associated benefits and pensions and the ability to collect estimated ambulance fees (the County had to write-off some $5.5 million). I am also concerned that the County will not “reimburse” us for us having our own ambulance. We will continue to pay taxes to the County for services not received in addition to taxes for the new Marco ambulance service.
“LEADERSHIP”– The County’s ambulance service is guided by an experienced, respected and award winning Medical Director. No person has been named to lead or guide Marco’s ambulance service and some fear the appointment may be a political one.
“PERSONAL AGENDAS”– Many feel that this proposal was the “building of an empire” for the Fire Department. My concern is that the leadership of the Political Action Committee (PAC) trying to “sell” us on the Marco ambulance include a) a relative of the fire chief and b) politicians running on the platform of approving the COPCN.
“COUNTY HELP”-Having been a member of the City’s transition advisory committee in 1997 I saw first hand how the County would do everything possible to make “Marco Island pay for leaving the County jurisdiction”. My concern is that the County will do the same when we need help from their ambulance services. If that happens someone could die as a result with massive liability for the City.
Finally, the issue of “Home Rule”has been the driving slogan for those trying to sell the need for our own ambulance service. My only comment on this is that home rule is only good if the “home” can, in fact, effectively “rule”. We need to be sure the City can effectively transition to and manage something as critical as our ambulance services. Get the facts. Form an opinion and, either way, vote on the August 28 referendum.