Thursday, May 24, 2018
News Roundup

Others might follow if St. Petersburg leaves Pinellas EMS system

St. Petersburg could have company if it exits Pinellas' emergency medical services system.

Officials from at least two other cities and one fire district are ready to discuss the possibility now that St. Petersburg has opened the door by threatening to leave if the county holds firm on a proposal to slash EMS budgets.

"All options are on the table. All of them. What the county is trying to do is a sin, and they should be ashamed of themselves," said Kathleen Litton, chairwoman of the Lealman Fire Commission. "Absolutely, all options are on the table."

St. Petersburg's position makes it easier for places like Lealman, Largo and Pinellas Park to have a discussion about leaving the countywide EMS system, say officials. None of them are big enough to go it alone, but the possibility of partnering with St. Petersburg and other departments opens the issue up to discussion, even a short one.

"I'm not averse to partnering with St. Pete," Pinellas Park council member Rick Butler said.

Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala has proposed cutting about $2.3 million annually out of the EMS system. The cuts are focused on five of the county's busiest departments — St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park and Lealman. He has also proposed cutting Seminole's budget.

In addition to those cuts, LaSala wants a three-year freeze on the budgets of all 18 fire departments that provide EMS service. After that, he would cap the percentage of increases. LaSala says his proposal would save an estimated $60 million over the next 10 years.

LaSala has said there will be no flexibility in the county's proposal. Yielding to one department means the county has to yield to others and the savings will be lost.

Thus far, LaSala seems to have held to that.

"I'm not averse to negotiating this at all but there's no negotiating on their part," Largo Mayor Pat Gerard said. "They have not been willing to negotiate. … I think that's why St. Pete is where they're at."

That's at a fork in the road. One possible destination is a courtroom. The other is a trip to ask the state Legislature's help in rewriting the state law that created the system and placed the county in charge of disbursing the money collected from a countywide EMS property tax.

The courthouse has the most appeal for officials as being the least drastic step.

"Hopefully, they're going to litigate so we can jump in there," Butler said. "My personal vote is to go ahead and join in litigation with it."

Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos said he's not in favor of bolting the system as a solution to the latest wrangle over funding. But, he conceded, a lawsuit could be on the horizon.

"I don't know that I'm comfortable going to court to get this resolved," Cretekos said. "But it's an option that's out there, and we will be discussing it."

Even if the system survives this latest spat, some say it may be time to discuss doing something totally different, especially if it involves both fire and EMS because the two are so interconnected. Cretekos said he's willing to discuss changing the system as part of a discussion about a long-term solution.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8450. Follow @ALindbergTimes on Twitter.

Comments
Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightning’s wild ride

Front-end loaders will serve as coda to Tampa Bay Lightning’s wild ride

TAMPA — Hours before the puck dropped at Amalie Arena for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, the ice crew boss talked about putting off any sign of the end for as long as possible."We don’t want to see the front-end loaders," says Tom Miracle, ...
Updated: 13 minutes ago
Eckerd College student who fell before graduation has died

Eckerd College student who fell before graduation has died

ST. PETERSBURG — An Eckerd College student who was critically injured last weekend during an accidental fall on campus shortly before she was to graduate died today, the school announced.Rebecca Ryan "Becca" Lavin-Burgher would have graduated with a ...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Pasco sheriff: Man stabbed driver, kicked officer

Pasco sheriff: Man stabbed driver, kicked officer

DADE CITY — A 42-year-old man was arrested Tuesday night after the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office said he jumped on top of a car, stabbed the driver multiple times and then kicked an officer.Roscoe James faces charges of attempted murder, two counts o...
Updated: 26 minutes ago
NOAA: Scientists predict 10 to 16 named storms this hurricane season

NOAA: Scientists predict 10 to 16 named storms this hurricane season

Scientists are in consensus: The 2018 hurricane season could be an active one.On Thursday the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration released its 2018 Atlantic hurricane seasonal outlook. It’s calling for between 10 and 16 named storms, five...
Updated: 29 minutes ago
Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

Behind the deal: $52 million boutique hotel coming to Ybor City started with cafe con leche at La Tropicana Cafe

TAMPA — Joe Capitano Sr. invested in the 1400 block of E Seventh Avenue in 1985, never doubting the huge potential of the property for Ybor City.But the deal to build a $52 million boutique hotel on the site didn’t start to come together until six ye...
Updated: 1 hour ago
Pushing the stroller, mashing the gas pedal: A fatal encounter on Bayshore

Pushing the stroller, mashing the gas pedal: A fatal encounter on Bayshore

TAMPA — Jessica Raubenolt seized on the sunshine and blue skies at mid-day Wednesday to take her daughter out in the stroller for a walk along scenic Bayshore Boulevard. Visiting from Ohio, the family had been cursed by rain all week.At the same time...
Updated: 1 hour ago
One day after fatal accident, Tampa moves to lower speed limit on Bayshore Blvd

One day after fatal accident, Tampa moves to lower speed limit on Bayshore Blvd

TAMPA — City officials announced Thursday they are reducing the speed limit on Bayshore Boulevard, one day after a mother was struck and killed by a speeding car while pushing her 21-month-old daughter across the street in a stroller.Starting today, ...
Updated: 1 hour ago
When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

When will the Lightning run out of wait-til-next-years?

TAMPA — Disbelief will eventually give way to acceptance.The Lightning isn't there yet.It isn't there yet in a lot of ways.Will it ever be?Just wondering.Really, what guarantees are there?Late Wednesday night, Washington Capitals captain A...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

Rays tripling down on starting relievers vs. Orioles this weekend: Romo, Stanek, Romo

The Rays aren't kidding about being serious in using relievers to start games.After unveiling the strategy last weekend against the Angels, manager Kevin Cash said they planned to use it again, and he made that official on Thursday, naming Sergio Rom...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

Sprouts Farmers Market to open new store in Riverview

RIVERVIEW — Sprouts Farmers Market is opening a new location in Riverview, the chain announced Thursday. The new store will be located at Summerfield Crossing Shopping Center, though Sprouts did not have a specific opening date.The announcement comes...
Updated: 2 hours ago