The City Council voted unanimously, during its July 8 meeting, to approve the city’s Capital Improvement (CIP) budget in the amount of $10.1 million for Fiscal Year 2022.
Within that figure, $250,000 will be used to purchase an ambulance for the Fire Department’s new Ambulance Transport Service. The need for the service was underscored following a study conducted by Municipal Resources, Inc. (MRI) that looked at the daily operations of the Fire Department.
During the meeting, MRI consultant Donald Bliss highlighted the Ambulance Transport Service as one of his top recommendations. “It is a cost-effective utilization of your city resources,” he said, adding that the study produced a total of 65 recommendations. “Think of them as guidance for the future.”
In addition to maintaining the contract with Cataldo Ambulance Service, Bliss suggested that the Fire Department eventually have three frontline ambulances and one ambulance in reserve. The Fire Department has hired 20 new firefighters, which Bliss said would be sufficient to staff the Ambulance Transport Service.
However, firefighter Craig Hardy, president of Everett Firefighters Local 143, said that despite the 20 new hires, staffing levels remain insufficient for the Ambulance Transport Service. “We’re not opposed to it, we just want to do it right,” he said. “This is a gigantic change that our members are going to be impacted by – there’s a lot to talk about.”
Fire Chief Anthony Carli said that once the ambulance is purchased it could be at least six months before it arrives in Everett.
Bliss said additional results of the MRI study indicated that a new fire station is needed in the southern end of the city. If a new station is constructed, Bliss said, it should be used to house the department’s administrative headquarters. He also said one station should then be closed, thus providing Everett with three fire stations.
Regarding technology, Bliss said mobile tablets are needed for response units and incident commanders. He also said the computer-assisted dispatch system needs to be updated and that a multi-city regional dispatch center should be taken into consideration.
In addition to the funding for the Fire Department’s ambulance, this year’s CIP budget includes $3 million for street and sidewalk repairs, $1.2 million for the Complete Streets initiative and $2 million for improvements along the waterfront and the Commercial Triangle.
The council also voted unanimously to transfer $569,000 from the CIP Stabilization Fund to the Capital Projects Fund. Within that figure, $374,000 will be used to purchase eight police vehicles. Captain Paul Strong said the vehicles will be used for parking enforcement, the department’s ranking officers and frontline patrol.