AP NEWS

Ambulance service contracts near completion

September 22, 2018

Skagit County’s four cities are approaching completion on the terms of their contracts with the county to start providing ambulance services.

At a meeting Thursday, representatives from Anacortes, Burlington, Mount Vernon and Sedro-Woolley debated with county officials on terms of canceling the contracts, the last sticking point in the negotiations.

The contracts are required for the cities to begin overseeing the majority of the county’s ambulance services on Jan. 1.

In order to help get the cities ready for their new responsibilities, the county has agreed to give each of them ambulances and other equipment from the outgoing Central Valley Ambulance Authority, as well as about $200,000 each in start-up costs.

County EMS Director Jeff Sargent said in the unlikely event the cities terminate their contracts, they will need to pay back the county some percentage of that investment.

City representatives at Thursday’s meeting agreed about paying back the county should they terminate their contracts but disagreed on the amount.

Later in the day, attorneys from the cities and the county met and are close to reaching an agreement on the amount, said Eron Berg, Sedro-Woolley city manager and attorney.

The cities plan to bring their proposed contracts to their respective city councils next week.

Berg said the cities have also begun hiring paramedics to staff their ambulances and are restricting the first pool of candidates to the 35 paramedics currently working for the Central Valley Ambulance Authority.

“These paramedics know a lot about Skagit County — the people, the way it works, even where the roads are,” he said.

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