Archive for Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Merger of Eudora fire, medical services supported

February 27, 2007

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County commissioners give their blessing to management shift in Eudora

Douglas County leaders give their blessing to shifting management of Eudora's Emergency Medical Services to the city's fire department. Enlarge video

Placing Eudora Emergency Medical Services under management of Eudora's fire department on Monday officially gained support from the Douglas County Commission.

Now, a contract will be prepared by Eudora City Administrator Cheryl Beatty and County Administrator Craig Weinaug.

Currently Eudora EMS is its own entity, but it receives equipment, training and medical oversight from Lawrence-Douglas County Fire & Medical. That will continue, but day-to-day management will fall to Eudora Fire Chief Randy Ates. Eudora EMS would become a division of the fire department and continue to serve the city of Eudora and Eudora Township.

Eudora EMS has been plagued by internal problems involving difficulty in recruiting and retaining members, and complaints of poor-quality patient care, according to information in a fire department report.

Eudora Fire Chief Randy Ates said several city firefighters were trained as paramedics and emergency medical technicians. Some former EMS members have expressed interest in returning if the service becomes a part of the fire department, he said.

"My sense is the commission supports the concept. You all can work out the details," County Commission Chairman Bob Johnson said at Monday's meeting.

Commissioner Jere McElhaney said he sees Douglas County coming under one fire and medical department in another 15 to 20 years.

"We're more of an urban community," he said. "In my vision we're looking at, in the long term, a countywide fire department."

Commissioners also voiced support for an interlocal agreement with Eudora that would establish a neighborhood revitalization plan for the downtown area and create an incremental tax rebate program.

"This is a common way of trying to help small businesses and improve the neighborhoods," Beatty said.

Eudora's Revitalization District would encompass the central business district, including all properties on the east and west sides of Maple, Main and Elm streets, between Sixth and 10th streets.

Under the revitalization plan, a minimum investment in order to receive a tax rebate would be $5,000. Property owners would have to apply for tax rebates.

Besides the city of Eudora, the county and Eudora school district have to approve the rebate program because it involves tax dollars and they are the entities that collect taxes in Eudora.

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