September 17, 2021
-During the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 21, the council will consider the resolution for additional staffing of the West Liberty Ambulance Service
-During the same meeting, the City Council will consider extending the deadline to Jan. 31, 2022, for new 28E Agreements
-The City of West Liberty has not, and will not, tell the Fire and Emergency Department to discontinue service to rural residents
During the City Council Meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 7, 2021, the council voted, 3-2, to table a resolution that would increase staffing at the West Liberty Ambulance Service.
They did so in order to receive additional financial information from the department. Before the meeting a work session was held to discuss those staffing needs.
During the work session, the Council voiced concern about the sustainability of new staff at the West Liberty Ambulance Service. They were concerned about the use of reserve funds to jumpstart the positions and the current condition of the ambulances.
Fire Chief Sickels, under whose supervision the Ambulance Services operates, and members of the department responded that there is enough in the reserve fund and that the department isn’t looking to replace ambulances soon. However, the council requested clarification on the financial situation and additional information in the form of a budget.
Now that the City has received this requested additional information, the resolution will once again come before the West Liberty City Council during its meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 21.
The City of West Liberty, through its Fire Department, and the West Liberty Rural Fire District through its Board of Trustees, as well as the City and the Rural Ambulance Board are members of two separate 28E Agreements for the provision of fire protection services and ambulance services.
Basically, a 28E agreement permits state and local governments in Iowa to cooperate with each other and other governmental agencies to provide services of a mutual advantage to its citizens.
In this case, a 28E agreement between the City of West Liberty and Board of Trustees for the West Liberty Rural Fire District, and a separate 28E agreement between the City of West Liberty and the Rural Ambulance Board, provide for fire protection and ambulance services in a cooperative effort for citizens of West Liberty and those outside of West Liberty’s city limits.
However, the City Council terminated these agreements in March, 2021, deciding to move forward with negotiations for new agreements with its partners. The current agreements do not contain all of the necessary provisions required by the Iowa Code for 28E agreements and they are not consistent with each other in their financial terms. The City sought the opportunity to replace the agreements with new ones before voting to terminate, and after some negotiations, decided it was best to terminate and replace them before July 1, 2021, instead of moving forward another year or more with the current agreements. The Council intended to enter into new agreements and hoped these would be in place by July 1, 2021
At no point did the City of West Liberty indicate it would not allow the Fire Department or the Ambulance Service to serve rural West Liberty.
Originally the parties extended the time frame to enter new agreements by extending the current ones through to Sept. 30, 2021. However, with the deadline looming and no agreements put forward to the City, the Council will now vote to extend the deadline to Jan. 31, 2022.
It is the City’s hope that it can work with the Fire District’s Board of Trustees and the Rural Ambulance Board to have new 28E Agreements that can be approved by the City Council before the new deadline expires.