Bromley Chooses Crescent Springs-Villa Hills Over Ludlow, May Explore Own Fire Department's Future
The City of Bromley chose to contract with Crescent Springs-Villa Hills Fire Department for Advanced Life Support (ALS) service, ending the city's relationship with private third-party provider Rural Metro.
The decision followed the issuance of a letter from Crescent Springs-Villa Hills Fire Chief Jeff Wendt to Bromley City Council and the Kenton County Fiscal Court that claimed that his department was providing 40 percent of Bromley's ambulance runs, far beyond what is traditionally considered to fall under the mutual aid scenario. Additionally, Wendt said that it would be appropriate to charge Bromley $600 for each ambulance run his department makes into the neighboring city.
Instead, Bromley opted for a $30,000 contract for the next year, a price that is equivalent to what the residents of Crescent Springs and Villa Hills pay for their joint fire department.
"We are not charging you more or less than our own citizens," said Wendt, who came to the meeting. "We can revisit it later in the year."
Mayor Donnie Jobe, who is also chief of the Bromley Volunteer Fire Department, had turned the issue over to the council fire committee, consisting of council members Gail Smith, Charlie Foulks, and Dixie Meyer.
Smith told council that the city had two proposals, one from Ludlow and the other from Crescent Springs-Villa Hills. Ludlow's offer was for six months at a cost of $10,500 (because Ludlow operates on a fiscal year calendar), and after the new fiscal year starts in July 2016, a 12-month contract could be entered into at double the price.
Smith said that the fire committee believed that the Ludlow offer was non-negotiable and reached out to Wendt to learn more about what Crescent Springs-Villa Hills would offer. The committee recommended to council that it was in the best interest of the city to go with a contract with Crescent Springs-Villa Hills. Council indicated their appreciation to Crescent Springs/Villa Hills for their coverage of Bromley.
Ludlow Fire Chief Rob Dreyer, who also attended Monday's special meeting, said that his city is only a mile down the road while Crescent Springs' firehouse is 3.5 miles away.
"We thought we were giving a fair deal when we gave the proposal," Dreyer said. "At no point did we ever say we couldn't negotiate. You never got back with us."
Ludlow also specified in its proposal that Bromley would have to give up their license to have a Basic Life Support squad.
Council member Nancy Kienker said that the main thing she cared about was the time it took for help to get to her house. "I want the fastest time," she said. "When my grandchildren are here, or I need help I want someone to get there fast. But I think we need to look at both options."
Councilman Bob France agreed, saying that when a project goes out for bid, all bids have to be considered. He asked if anyone inquired whether Ludlow would take out the requirement that Bromley would have to disband its life squad. Smith said again that they believed that Ludlow's offer was final. Even when Dreyer said he would sit down with the committee and discuss the matter, council was split.
"You are not offending us if you don't go with us," said Scott Ringo, a Villa Hills councilman and member of the Crescent Spring-Villa Hills Fire Authority. "If we didn't provide service to you we would be saving money."
Mayor Jobe told council that if they take the contract with Crescent Springs-Villa Hills, the city would have a year to think about the numbers.
"I don't care if we get rid of our squad," he stated, before turning to council. "What is your decision? We can't delay this time after time. We have been using Crescent Springs and their response time is fine."
Mike Denham, a Bromley resident, said having a life squad that was not providing ALS was not always a blessing, because if they respond, and the patient suddenly becomes worse, it would take longer for the ALS squad to respond after the fact, as opposed to having the ALS squad respond in the first place.
Chief Wendt said he thought the question before council was, why is Crescent Springs the city's back up, or mutual aid? "I assume you are choosing us for a reason," he said.
Smith said that the process is probably the first step in eventually ending the Bromley squad due to the cost. She said she thought the best way to go is to give Crescent Springs-Villa Hills the trial contract, and maybe eventually become part of the Fire Authority, with the ultimate goal of possibly having a fire station in Bromley.
Councilman Charlie Foulks made a motion to enter into a contract with Crescent Springs-Villa Hills, and Gail Smith seconded the motion. All members voted yes.
The Bromley Volunteer Fire Department's examination by the state fire commission, which believes that the department's roster included names of men not actively part of the department, will be presented to the state fire commission's board this month.
The other item on the agenda was a matter brought up by Dixie Meyer to reduce the road tax. She said if the state takes over Bromley-Crescent Springs road, and Route 8 is maintained by the state, she thought the city could reduce the taxes. Council was split over the idea, and Gail Smith said that if they put the matter on the ballot, people would be glad to vote for the reduction, but if the city needed to put the tax back where it was, and they put the issue on a ballot, no one would vote to increase the tax.
Bob France agreed, saying if the tax was reduced it would never come back. Council thought they might revisit the issue later, but no decision was made on the subject. The next meeting will be on Wednesday evening at 6:30 p.m.
Written by Patricia A. Scheyer, RCN contributor
Photo: Villa Hills Councilman and Fire Authority member Scott Ringo and Crescent Springs-Villa Hills Fire Chief Jeff Wendt came to talk about ALS service for Bromley, as did Ludlow Fire Chief Rob Dreyer, in the background.