Texas city council approves contract with private ambulance service
Pflugerville leaders hired Acadian Ambulance Service after voters chose not to join an emergency services district
PFLUGERVILLE, Texas — The Pflugerville City Council has approved a contract with Acadian Ambulance Service after voters turned down the option of joining an emergency services district.
The council voted 5-2 on Tuesday to hire the private ambulance company with council members Ceasar Ruiz and Rudy Metayer voting against it.
Council members did not comment before taking the vote, which followed a closed executive session about it.
The city's two-year contract with Acadian Ambulance Service will start on Jan. 1. The company is required to provide four ambulances in the city and also have an eight-minute response time within the city. It is also required to have a 10-minute response time in the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction.
The number of ambulances can be increased so the company can reach the required response times, according to the contract.
"The performance standards the Pflugerville City Council and city staff built into the contract are as high as any I've seen around the country, and even higher than many large cities," Acadian Vice President Troy Mayer said in a news release on Wednesday. "The council clearly expects a high-performance 911 system for its citizens, and we are honored that they have put that trust in us."
Voters on Nov. 2 turned down the option of joining Emergency Services District No. 17, which would have provided ambulance service.
Joining ESD No. 17 would have cost homeowners an extra 10 cents per $100 valuation. The city's contract with Acadian Ambulance will not cause any property tax increase.
The Pflugerville Fire Department, also known as ESD No. 2, has said it cannot afford to keep providing ambulance service to the city because of increased call volume and voters approved creating ESD No. 17 to handle ambulance calls in the area.
The council voted before two newly elected council members, Jim McDonald and Kimberly Holiday, took their seats. McDonald and Holiday will be sworn in on Nov. 15.
McDonald defeated incumbent Mike Heath, who voted in favor of the Acadian contract on Tuesday. Holiday will take the place of Oscar Peña, who also voted for the contract. Peña was not eligible to run for re-election after serving three consecutive terms.
McDonald asked the City Council before it voted on Tuesday to delay its vote.
"Citizens of Pflugerville and the ETJ do not have an appetite for increasing tax revenue to cover the cost of EMS," McDonald said.
"I disagree that means they are in favor of privatizing EMS. The best alternative is to partner with ESD No. 2 and find a path there."
Holiday declined to comment on Wednesday on the council's vote.
Other Pflugerville residents, including Terry Newsom, spoke in favor of Acadian Ambulance Service on Tuesday before the council voted on the issue.
"Pflugerville voters sent a strong no to ESD No. 17 and we the voters are expecting the council to honor the referendum," Newsom said. "We are asking the council to approve the Acadian contract and give people who are willing to work with the council a chance to prove themselves."
City officials said to maintain the highest quality of service, the city will be able review the contract semi-annually, and monthly response time reports will be provided by Acadian.
"Acadian's fee schedule will be reviewed by City Council annually, with the option to file an objection." The contract can be renewed for two additional one-year terms, according to its provisions.
"The contract is at no cost to the city, except for any costs incurred as part of the city's responsibility to administer the contract, and Acadian is wholly responsible for determining the location of and procuring any facilities," the city said in a news release.
The issue of providing ambulance service to the city has been controversial.
The Pflugerville City Council had voted against putting the creation of ESD No. 17 on the ballot in May, saying it wanted to consider other options.
Voters in other parts of northeastern Travis County, however, approved the creation of ESD No. 17 in May. The commissioners for the newly created ESD No. 17 then put the issue on the Pflugerville ballot in November.
The city sued ESD No. 17, saying the district was trying to disrupt its authority, but a judge ruled against the city.