Hudson Council approves search for EMS consultant
The city of Hudson is moving forward on its own to do a study of St. Croix EMS with a request for proposals from consultants approved at the Monday, July 23 meeting.
Council Member Bill Alms, the city's representative on the EMS Commission, said the next steps would then be candidate interviews. Once a candidate is selected, that recommendation would come to the council.
Alms said the purpose of the study is to gain information from an unbiased third party to study how to provide EMS in the most cost-effective way. The study purpose states a consultant would look at all potential options including modes, structures, staffing and a cost analysis to allow the city to make an informed decision from options presented.
Council Member Randy Morrissette II said the EMS Commission and other constituents have brought up good concerns with the study. Morrissette said he agreed with having somebody else's eyes on the issue, but asked what the city will learn that it hasn't already.
Alms said a study would look not just at the current structure, but would analyze other delivery methods as well. Alms said he wants to know how those options would look for Hudson in the long-term.
"I think yes we can look at other communities, but other communities are not Hudson," Alms said.
Council Member Joyce Hall, who serves on the EMS ad hoc committee that proposed the consultant, said the study will make sure the city has covered all of its bases.
The cost of a study is currently unknown. Alms said the city would garner more information about that in the interview process. A small group appointed by the mayor and approved by the council would find the best candidate and determine what they would learn from a study, he said, and then the council would make a final decision on whether to spend the money to do it.
Finance Director Brenda Malinowski said potential funding could come from the council contingency fund that has $60,000 in it, or from the undesignated general fund.
Alms said he would like to have a candidate in early September, and from there he hopes the study would be completed within six months.
Mayor Rich O'Connor asked if the ad hoc committee would now be disbanded, since he said it is passing its mission to determine a sustainable EMS model to a consultant.
"What else are you supposed to do?" O'Connor said. "I would think your mission is done."
The initial purpose of the committee when approved in October 2017 was stated as "to develop recommendations regarding moving St. Croix EMS toward financial and operational stability while maintaining a community-based model."
Council Member Sarah Atkins Hoggatt disagreed that the committee should end, saying the consultant could report and check in with the committee. Alms said he thought that would be his role as the EMS commission representative.
Council and ad hoc committee member Jim Webber said the committee could discuss its role for the future at its next meeting.
O'Connor said all ad hoc committees end, and the decision to disband one lies with the authority that made the committee not with the committee itself. He said he was not questioning the dedication of the committee members, but said they've done their job.
No decision was made on the committee.
Ward Avenue remodel
With the study moving forward, the council voted to postpone discussion on a remodel of one of the buildings at the city-owned Ward Avenue site for a new EMS station.
Council Member Paul Deziel felt it was putting the cart before the horse to move forward with a station, saying the city needed to know it has a community EMS before remodeling.
"I'd love to give you a new building," Morrissette told EMS Chief Brandon Lyksett, "it doesn't make good sense to do that right now."
Deziel asked if there would be a cost to delaying the project by six months or so. Lyksett said material or similar costs may increase, but with the project being an indoor remodel he's planning to get competitive bids from contractors in the slower winter months.
Five Bugles Design architect Michael Clark presented the updated plans for the remodel, with the cost increased from the estimated $500,000 to $864,803.
Clark said the cost increase was due in part to how the two existing buildings at the Ward Avenue site are connected.
An existing 6-inch water line that was planned for sprinklers in original designs was actually two lines, one for each building. Increasing the line for the EMS building adds an expense.
The two buildings also share electric power, with the power coming through the other building and backfeeding into the proposed EMS building. Clark said the EMS building would need an emergency generator that connects to the meter at the other building, providing an additional cost.
The proposal also found that in-floor heat in the office spaces can be decommissioned to add two additional showers and another bathroom for those working in the space. Clark said this was a good thing, but does provide an extra cost.
The plan also found the service needed less garage space than initially thought, which allowed the office needs to expand for a better fit at a cost.
"It's exactly the right size," Clark said. "All the right pieces in all the right places."