Pasco, Franklin Fire District 3 reach agreement for ambulance service

By Michelle Dupler, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 15, 2013 

Pasco is poised to sign a new agreement with Franklin Fire District 3 for ambulance service that would last until the end of this year.

At a workshop Monday, the city council heard from City Manager Gary Crutchfield that the fire district would receive ambulance service at half the $180,000 cost the city was asking for 2013.

If the agreement continues beyond 2013, the fire district will pay the full cost, but can terminate the agreement with one month's notice, Crutchfield said.

In another pending agreement, the fire district would provide water tender trucks for fire suppression in the 600-acre portion of the "doughnut hole" area annexed by the city on Jan. 1. The area contains about 500 homes.

Crutchfield said the city's fire department relies primarily on trucks that pump water from fire hydrants, but there aren't enough fire hydrants in the annexed area to cover the need.

The city will pay the fire district $1,000 per month for automatic aid from water tender trucks, he said. The agreement will help offset the ambulance cost for the cash-strapped fire district and give the city time to install fire hydrants.

The fire district pays about $30,000 a year to Pasco for the ambulance service, which includes taking patients to hospitals, under an agreement extended to the end of this month.

The city's ambulance contract with the fire district was set to expire at the end of December, but when district residents failed to approve an EMS levy in November, district officials were left scrambling to find another way to provide the service they say the district can't afford.

The levy would have cost homeowners 36 cents per $1,000 of assessed value.

Pasco has been providing ambulance service to the fire district, which covers 150 square miles around the city and about 4 square miles inside the "doughnut hole," since the late '60s or early '70s.

But Pasco officials have said the cost to provide that service has gone up, and when the city decided to raise the rates for its citizens, it said the fire district needed to pay a comparable rate.

w Also Monday, the council discussed a recommendation to replace the aging Kurtzman and Richardson pools with spray parks.

The two swimming pools were built in the 1960s and underwent renovations in the 1980s, but they now are plagued with major cracks, plumbing and electrical failures and an inability of filtration systems to keep the water as clean as state health regulations require.

The doors are rusting off the bath houses, which also need new roofs. The Richardson pool experienced a major pump failure in 2012 that closed it for part of the summer.

It would cost millions to replace the pools. The spray parks would cost $300,000 to $600,000 each, depending on what features are included. City staffers propose to demolish both pools and build spray parks at Kurtzman this year and Richardson in 2014.

The city also will save the cost of pool maintenance and paying lifeguards, said Rick Terway, the city's administrative and community services director.

Consensus among council members was that spray parks will be a good addition to the city, but that they want quality water features.

"I would like to see these spray parks be a gem for the city of Pasco," Councilman Al Yenney said.

-- Michelle Dupler: 582-1543; mdupler@tricityherald.com; Twitter: @mduplertch

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