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Despite Lealman data, Pinellas to stick with paramedic plan

LEALMAN — County officials say last-minute data submitted by this fire district is not enough to make them back off on a recommendation to eliminate one paramedic position and shift another to a different district.

The County Commission, which will make the final decision, is scheduled to hear the issue on July 27.

Under the current arrangement, the Lealman Fire District has four paramedic positions paid with countywide emergency medical services taxes. A paramedic position, in budget talk, is actually 3.4 paramedics, one for each of the three 24-hour shifts, plus occasional substitutes, gas and other expenses.

Three of those positions are at Fire Station 19, at 6694 46th Ave. N. One is at Fire Station 18, at 4360 55th Ave. N.

The recommendation would leave the position at 18 and one at 19. It would eliminate one at 19 and move the other to Kenneth City Fire Station 16, at 4600 58th St. N in Kenneth City, which is run by Pinellas Park. The three stations are within 3 miles of each other.

The main goal of the move is to save money — at least $451,000 in countywide taxes at a time when the commission has increased ambulance fees and will likely increase property tax rates to make up an expected $11 million shortfall.

County staff members say the new configuration would have other advantages: It would leave the same number of EMS units in the area and improve response times to the mid-portion of the area, which includes residents in Lealman, Kenneth City, Pinellas Park and St. Petersburg. And, they say, it would not hurt first-response service in the eastern and western portions of the Lealman district because those calls would continue to be answered by the same vehicles as now.

Lealman has fought the proposed change, which would cost the district about $860,000 in county funds. Lealman fire officials say the move would hurt response times to the west and cause local taxes to go up.

Despite Lealman data, Pinellas to stick with paramedic plan 07/17/10 [Last modified: Friday, July 16, 2010 4:01pm]
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