Saturday, September 22, 2018
News Roundup

Pinellas Suncoast fire district sues county over funding

The Pinellas Suncoast Fire and Rescue District is suing Pinellas County after district officials said they were shortchanged millions of dollars in emergency medical services funding.

According to the lawsuit, the county took away funding for EMS costs associated with Fire Station 28 in fiscal year 2009-2010 and Station 26 the next year. A financial report commissioned by the district found that the defunding resulted in about $5.2 million of lost revenue.

District and county officials said they hope to resolve the problem through a dispute resolution process.

"The goal is to sit down at the table and work this out," Chief Salvatore D'Angelo said.

Mike Cooksey, director of the county's safety and emergency services, agreed.

He added that he could not discuss the findings in the lawsuit citing pending litigation.

Pinellas Suncoast is one of the 18 departments that contracts with the county to provide emergency medical services. The department's fire services are paid for with a fee charged to residents in the district, which covers Belleair Beach, Belleair Shore, Indian Rocks Beach, Indian Shores and the unincorporated Oakhurst area.

According to the lawsuit, county officials slashed about $800,000 between 2009 and 2010 and roughtly another $400,000 the following year.

The suit comes at a time when the county is reworking how it doles out money to the fire departments. Last month, county officials agreed to pay about $800,000 for three administrative positions for three departments that officials said were overloaded with EMS calls and paperwork.

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