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Town & Country, West County EMS/FPD near new contract agreement

By: Jim Erickson

The West County EMS/FPD and Town & Country are taking steps toward a new contract setting terms and conditions for the district’s providing its services to the city.

The city’s Board of Aldermen approved a first reading of the new agreement in December and was expected to take final action at its Jan. 11 meeting [after presstime]. West County’s Board of Directors had unanimously endorsed the contract at its Dec. 21 meeting.

The effective date of the new five-year pact is Jan. 1, 2017. The current agreement doesn’t end until Dec. 31, 2016; however, should either party want to change any of the contract’s provisions, it is required to notify the other party at least one year in advance of the contract’s expiration.

Negotiations on a new agreement began several months ago after West County voters last April approved a 30-cent increase in the district’s general fund real estate and personal property tax levy. The tax hike goes into effect this year. The higher levy does not apply to Town & Country property owners because West County’s fire and emergency medical services to the community are governed by the contract between the two entitites.

Under the new contract, Town & Country will pay West County $3.44 million annually for its services in 2017, compared with the 2015 payment of approximately $3.3 million. The annual charge beyond 2017 is subject to the Consumer Price Index, but any increase is capped at no more than 3 percent.

A new provision calls for an additional payment of nearly $157,000 annually for capital resources such as emergency vehicles and related equipment.

In turn, West County will pay Town & Country $152,000 annually for use of the firehouse near the Mason-Clayton Road intersection. That amount also will be subject to CPI adjustments and compares with the $149,000 budgeted for firehouse rental in 2016.

The location is manned 24/7 by West County firefighter/paramedics.

Another change in the new agreement is the elimination of the fire marshal services that West County has provided and the splitting of inspection fees between the city and district. According to Town & Country City Administrator Gary Hoelzer, the city will handle those inspection duties beginning in 2017 and will retain all related fee income.

Hoelzer described the new agreement as a win-win arrangement and expects aldermen to approve it.

“I’ve heard no concerns voiced about the agreement,” he said, adding that the board was actively represented in the contract negotiating process.

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