Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman says cutting city's EMS money would be unfair

ST. PETERSBURG — The city stands to lose about $1.1 million annually under a county proposal to change the way Pinellas' emergency medical services system is funded.

But Mayor Rick Kriseman said the county is already paying St. Petersburg less than the city is entitled to under a 2009 county ordinance. If the county would use the money St. Petersburg is entitled to receive under that ordinance as a starting point, Kriseman said he's willing to embrace the new system.

The net result — St. Petersburg would lose no funding and the county would pay no more than it is now.

"It's essentially a wash," Kriseman said. "We wouldn't see an additional reduction over and above what we're already incurring."

Pinellas County Administrator Bob LaSala said he could not comment on the details of Kriseman's response to the proposed changes.

"I have not heard from Rick on the details," LaSala said. "We appreciate his spirit of cooperation and collaboration."

LaSala said he welcomed the chance to discuss the issues with Kriseman.

County commissioners on Tuesday gave LaSala the go-ahead to change the way EMS is funded. Included in the changes are a cut to the budgets of five — St. Petersburg, Clearwater, Largo, Pinellas Park and Lealman — of the 18 fire departments that the county pays to provide first response EMS service. St. Petersburg stands to lose about $1.1 million annually as a result.

Other savings — estimated by LaSala to total as much as $60 million over 10 years — come from a three-year freeze on budgets and a cap on the percentage increase in EMS budgets in the seven years after the freeze is lifted.

City managers and fire chiefs from Largo, Pinellas Park and Lealman say they cannot comment on the cuts, which total about $2.3 million over the five departments. They want to meet with county staffers to discuss local issues before meeting with their elected boards to craft responses to the county.

Clearwater City Manager Bill Horne said he supports the county's proposal but said he's waiting until after the March municipal elections to meet with his council members to see what they want to do.

Kriseman wrote LaSala a letter late Tuesday saying he thought the proposed cuts to St. Petersburg's budget — about 47 percent of the total to all five departments — was disproportionate and unfair given the volume of calls the city handles — about 30 percent of the 174,000 EMS calls the county receives each year.

At the same time, Kriseman said, he's willing to cooperate with the effort to hold down costs and would recommend that his city accept the funding component of the county's plan. But that acceptance depends on the county figuring the changes on the basis of what St. Petersburg should have been receiving under the 2009 ordinance.

The city, he said, had agreed to receive less than it was entitled to under that rule because it was trying to help the county hold down costs.

"We've been reducing (costs) for the last five years," Kriseman said. "We're not getting any credit for that."

Other cities and fire districts did not make the same concessions, he said, and so their cuts under the new proposal would be made from EMS budgets that were in compliance with the 2009 rules. It's only fair, he said, that cuts to St. Petersburg's $13.1 million EMS budget are made using the same baseline year as the others. Otherwise, he said, the city would be penalized for trying to be a good fiscal partner by getting cuts on top of cuts.

Anne Lindberg can be reached at or (727) 893-8450.

St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman says cutting city's EMS money would be unfair 02/05/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, February 5, 2014 11:47pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bucs' annual Women of RED preseason party attracts nearly 2,000


    TAMPA — Theresa Jones is primarily a college football fan, but she wanted to get a taste of the Bucs. So the 46-year-old Tampa resident bought a ticket for the team's Women of RED Ultimate Football Party at Raymond James Stadium on Friday.

    Lee White of Seminole tries on a helmet at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. on Friday, August 18, 2017.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers female fans descended upon Raymond James Stadium for the ultimate football party, the 2017 Women of RED: The Takeover, supported by Moffitt Cancer Center. CHARLIE KAIJO   |   Times

  2. Bucs' Ali Marpet: Move to center could pay off big


    TAMPA — No player works as closely with Jameis Winston as the center. Only those two touch the ball on every play. Together they make — if you will — snap judgements about defensive alignments.

     Jameis Winston #3 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Ali Marpet #74 warm up prior to preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars at EverBank Field on August 17, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images) 700069805
  3. Inside the Rays continuing historically bad slump


    The numbers tell the story of the Rays inexplicable ongoing offensive slump, and the words detail how tough it has been to deal with.

  4. How Rays' Chris Archer is branching out on Twitter

    The Heater

    Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Chris Archer (22) leans on the railing of the dugout during the All-Star game at Marlins Park in Miami, Fla. on Tuesday, July 11, 2017. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  5. Candidates for governor get emotional talking about their gay siblings


    Occasionally in today's hyper-rehearsed and contrived world of political campaigns one witnesses moments that are so honest and real, we can't help but understand we're not just listening to another politician give his or her stump speech; We're listening to a human being who understands personal pain at least as well …

    Chris King talking to reporters in Tallahassee