City, ALSTAR Reach New Ambulance Services Agreement
A new agreement has been reached with a local ambulance services provider.
On Monday during the Jamestown City Council work session meeting, city and ALSTAR EMS officials discussed a new four-year agreement that has been reached to provide ambulance services.
Jamestown Mayor Eddie Sundquist said, as part of the agreement, ALSTAR will also provide a medical director when needed, the ability to bill for ambulance calls the city provides and to utilize additional services they provide like training.
“We are very excited and pleased to renegotiate an agreement with ALSTAR to provide ambulance services for the city of Jamestown,” Sundquist said.
Matthew Coon, Jamestown Fire Department deputy fire chief, said the last agreement between the city and ALSTAR expired in 1999, with the two entities operating under the terms of the old agreement for the last 21 years.
“We sorely needed to work out a new agreement,” Coon said.
Jeff Russell, At-Large councilman, asked how ALSTAR will provide the necessary ambulance services for the city, with the Jamestown Fire Department providing more EMS calls in recent years.
David Thomas, ALSTAR executive director, said ALSTAR is in the process of hiring and training more employees to provide more ambulance service calls in the city. He also said ALSTAR, which is part of WCA Services Corp., has the full support of UPMC Chautauqua.
In January, UPMC, doing business as ALSTAR, canceled its EMS services agreement with the city because the contract was more than 20 years old. The previous agreement was signed in the mid-1990s.
In February, city officials requested proposals from ambulance service businesses to provide EMS service in Jamestown. There was a deadline in March for the proposals, but, with the COVID-19 pandemic, the request was extended.
In February, Sundquist announced that other EMS providers have indicated wanting to work with city officials on providing ambulance services. Sundquist said he could not comment on the names of the other companies that have shown interest.
In July, Sundquist said city officials were working with the ambulance service providers who submitted an application to finalize an agreement. Sundquist wouldn’t say how many proposals city officials received.
It has been reported that ALSTAR has been responding to fewer EMS calls in the city for more than a year. During Sundquist’s State of the City address in January, he said when ALSTAR first started in the city during the mid-1990s, the city’s fire department was only responding to around 50 calls for EMS service a year. He said in 2019, the Jamestown Fire Department responded to more than 1,000 ambulance service calls.
The council is slated to vote on the proposed contract at its next meeting at 7:30 p.m. Monday.
In other business, the council also discussed a proposal to increase the cost of parking at meters in the city. The proposal is to increase the cost of parking at a meter for an hour from 50 cents to $1.
Marie Carrubba, Ward 4 councilwoman, asked if the increase will deter people from using parking spaces downtown, which could possibly hurt businesses if fewer people are downtown. She understands the need to increase revenues, but she doesn’t want to discourage people from parking downtown.
“I just have concerns for business owners downtown,” she said.
Kim Ecklund, At-Large councilwoman, and Vickye James, Ward 3 councilwoman, both said they are concerned about increasing the cost by 100%.
Sundquist said one of the reasons for the increase is the new app-based payment system that will be available once smart parking meters are installed. He said the company that operates the app-based program charges 35 cents for each use. He added most cities that have app-based programs have increased its parking meter costs because of the higher transaction fee.
The council also discussed a proposal to eliminate free parking zones downtown. Ellen Shadle, city principal planner, said there are 150 free parking spaces downtown. She said the city is losing out on $234,900 in revenues if each of the free parking spaces is used six hours a day. She said the city would receive an additional $156,000 in revenues if the free parking spaces are used at least four hours a day.
Anthony Dolce, council president, said the council will be given time to analyze the proposal to eliminate the free parking spaces. He said no final decision was made Monday night.
Brent Sheldon, Ward 1 councilman, said more discussion will be needed on the proposal. He said the council will not vote on the proposal during its voting session meeting Monday.