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Paramedic Fee Approved by Murrieta City Council

A paramedic subscription fee of $48 a year for services provided by the Murrieta Fire Department was approved. Residents who do not subscribe will be charged $350 per occurrence.

Residents in Murrieta will soon be charged for paramedic services provided by the Fire Department.

Murrieta City Council approved an ordinance establishing the $350 fee by a 4-1 vote after a three-hour discussion. Households who voluntarily subscribe to the paramedic program for $48 a year—$4 a month—would not be charged the $350 fee in the event they are treated by Murrieta Fire Department paramedics.

"The truth of the matter is you are paying $40 a rooftop for fire (services)," said Councilwoman Kelly Bennett, who voted in favor of the fee. "You have never paid for paramedic service—it was a freebie for 12 years or so."

Councilman Randon Lane cast the only dissenting vote, calling the charge a "tax."

"We must live within our means..." Lane said. "I believe we should put this on November ballot and let our citizens decide."

Murrieta fire Chief Matt Shobert along with city administration proposed the fee in order to recoup the costs of the Fire Department having paramedics aboard its fire engines.

This cost was not figured in to property tax assessments paid by residents, and the city is limited in its ability to increase the taxes because of propositions passed by state voters in 1978 and 1996.

"While both Propositions 13 and 218 remain beneficial to long-term Murrieta residents, the impact on the city and the Murrieta Fire Protection District (MFD) has been severe during the latest economic downturn," wrote city of Murrieta Senior Management Analyst Brian Ambrose, in a staff report. (See a full PDF of the agenda item to the right.)

Between 2008-2009 and 2010-2011 fiscal years, the Fire Department had a 24-percent decrease in revenue, the staff report indicated.

The Fire Department's 2012-2013 fiscal year operating budget of $11.41 million showed $10.23 million in revenue and the use of $1.17 million in economic contingency funds. Of revenue, $8.37 million was expected from taxes and $1.52 million from assessments.

A $700,000 budget gap was predicted.

The paramedic subscription program is expected to bring in $350,000 to $400,000 per year at full capacity.

Mayor Doug McAllister called the fee a "bridge."

"I see the EMS fee at best as a bridge to a real solution," McAllister said, noting that Murrieta becoming a charter city would solve some of the structural problems faced, such as the paramedic funding.

Murrieta was incorporated as a general law city; becoming a charter city would call for a vote from the people.

Under certain home rule provisions in California's state constitution, voters can exercise a greater degree of local control than provided by the California Legislature, according to the League of California Cities.

"Becoming a charter city allows voters to determine how their city government is organized and, with respect to municipal affairs, enact legislation different than that adopted by the state," the website states.

"In this case it would give us a bit of an opportunity for a bit of a redo," McAllister said.

In the meantime, the Murrieta Firefighters Association is ready to step up to help close the funding gap, said Association President Dean Hale, a Murrieta firefighter/paramedic.

"(We have) sat down and talked about it and decided...we are willing to take that step if that is what is needed," Hale told city council members.

Some members of the public who spoke agreed with the fee, while others thought there must be other avenues to take.

Murrieta resident Scott Bailey is a fire captain in another city and supports paying the fee to keep services.

"In the city I work for people suffer every day because we don't have firefighter/paramedics," Bailey said.

Resident Adam Huber questioned transfers from the fire fund to the city's general fund.

"We pay a line item on our tax, but recently I know the money has been moved from Fire Department to city hall...this starts a process of funding fire last which other cities have done," Huber said. "Basically any way you look at this, $48 a year is a tax."

City Manager Rick Dudley said those transfers—listed as $300,450 this year—were for network technology services and were charged to all special districts within the city.

The ordinance must still undergo a second reading, which could come before the city council again by early August, according to City Attorney Leslie Devaney.

Upon approving the first reading of the ordinance Tuesday, Murrieta city council triggered a competitive bid process for a third-party consultant to market and administer the paramedic subscription program.

The consultant would be paid by revenue generated from the program and would not be funded by the department's operational budget, according to the staff report.

Residents on Medical or Medicaid and low-income earners will be charged $2 per month for the optional subscription, while businesses will be charged on a sliding scale based on their number of employees. The fee will not cover visitors to the respective business.

Residents not enrolled in the program will be permitted to deny services from Fire Department paramedics until the county's contracted ambulance provider arrives.

A sunset clause allows for reduction in subscription rates by 50 percent, should property taxes return to 2008-2009 levels.

Shobert said if action such as the paramedic fee was not taken to recoup some of the Fire Department costs, it could lead to a reduction in services and possibly the closure of a fire station within two and a half years.

The department currently has a hiring freeze on six administrative positions, and firefighters in 2011 agreed to a 5-percent pay cut.

"It really is the most mainstream option, it is something we should have implemented several years ago when they put paramedics on our engines," said Shobert, noting several other California cities charge a paramedic fee.

These include Anaheim, Burbank, Corona, Fullerton, San Clemente, Santa Ana and Davis, among others, according to Shobert.

"Fire district revenue was never meant to cover cost of EMS," Shobert said.

Councilman Rick Gibbs said all other options had been scrutinized and exhausted.

"Given the facts, approving the recommendation of our fire chief is really not a tough call," Gibbs said. "We talk about quality of life in Murrieta—health and safety are part of quality of life in Murrieta."

MAC July 11, 2012 at 02:55 PM
AFR... Are you bummed that I responded back? You called me out last time? Not sure when that was, but whatever makes you feel better bud. I am just curious though... You say "our" management? Are you a current AMR employee? A former employee?
Paramedic July 11, 2012 at 05:12 PM
Since it's OK for our management to comment on this post, than so will I. I work for AMR Riverside and I will tell you that MOST, if not all of the information MAC is saying is false. They are using the same tactic they use when they talk to their employees! I have also worked in the Murrieta stations hundreds of times. We have two ambulances stationed there. We do get dispatched at the same time. Matter of fact we respond with the Fire Dpeartment at the exact same time being that we hear their dispatch. That is if they haven't moved us up to Riverside City or respond us from Murrieta to run a call all the way in Hemet! Yes Hemet, it happens all the time. MAC, a 100% of the time you are compliant, no more lies, I work for the same company and I know that is 100% a lie. I was late to 5 calls yesterday because we had to run into another City for a call. The truth is AMR would not survive without the Fire Departments. If it wasn't for them always being around and having the medics, a lot more people would die. That is the absolute truth and AMR management knows this. I have to also correct our management and state for the record that there has never been a third ambulance stationed in Murrieta until the issue arrised. If he wants to say that ambulance 440 is in Murrieta it is not. it is in Winchester. Dont believe the AMR management they have made careers out of lying! By the way, CAL FIRE has also filed complaints, and wanted the contract to got out to bid!
Paramedic July 11, 2012 at 05:43 PM
Let me know explain how "system status" works. This is how AMR moves their ambulances aroind. There are TWO ambulances in Murrieta. There are three in Temecula. When two of the ambulances in Temecula get a cal then one of the ambulances in Murrieta goes to Temecula. Now there is One ambulance to serve the City of Murrieta. That one ambu;lance responds to a call now there is no ambulances in Murrieta. so they will send an ambulance from Temecula. Now there is one ambulance in Temecula and Murrieta. A traffic accident happens on the freeway and both ambulances respond. Now there are no ambu;ances in Murrieta and Temecula. The next closest ambulance will now come from Elsinore or Sun City sometimes further. So, If the Departments were not there to provids (ALS) advanced life support people would suffer tremendously. The Paramedics on the fire engines most of the time, like 90% of the time have nore expoerineced medics. These are guys that have been medics for 10, 20, 30 years. AMR is a stepping stone for their medics to become nurses, PA's, RT's, or join the fire department. I can't speak for everyone, just the facts. Most that are working for AMR can't wait to get out. I know there will be that one person that will come on here and say, " I love AMR, you are wrong" but believe me that is the minority!!!!!!! I have the true facts with no special interest. I will, try as often as possible, to post the facts of AMR so that everyone on this blog will have the truth.
Paramedic July 11, 2012 at 05:55 PM
MAC, you stated that EMD was being used in San Bernardino County, LA County and Orange County. Why would you say that on this blog? That is completely false. If you have to lie to these people then you need to re-evaluate your cause. Why are you sooooo mad? Hopefully rural metro or Paramedics plus will win the bid in three year and it will be a better service for community and to the County. Im sure there will be a position for you and all of the other managers? And weren't you at one time the Director of AMR Riverside.... What happened? if your ideas are soooooooo great then why are you now the Communications manager? Guess your ideas aren't sooooo great! stop lying so I don't have to correct all of them on this post. i know you are going to try and find out who I am. Good luck! There will finally be justice on this post!!!!! People don't belive what this guy says. Next time stop one of us in the Ambulance and ask us the truth!
MAC July 11, 2012 at 06:33 PM
Hey "Paramedic"... Not sure how long you have been around, but if you want to talk "facts", you better have them at your disposal. AMR is 100% compliant with the contract, and has been since day 1. If you or anyone on this blog does not believe me, call the regulatory agency, REMS. EMD is used in San Berdo county. San Bernardino City to be exact. As far as ideas go, EMD, CAD links, Live Routing, etc., aren't my ideas. If it was, I wouldn't be blogging on any site. You're obviously disgruntled for whatever reason which is too bad. But why continue to put yourself through such misery if you're really that unhappy? As far as dispatched at the same time... I tell you what... If you decide to have the courage to call me (since you obviously know my number), I will provide numerous examples to substantiate any of my assertions. Matter of fact... To anyone who wants to (AMR employee or citizen) who wants to learn, and or see more; feel free to call my office at 951-782-5230. "Paramedic"... I respect your right to express your concerns, and say what you feel. But what do you have to back those facts up? I'll also comment on your System Status question later.
Paramedic July 11, 2012 at 07:49 PM
You need to elaborate to these people what you mean by 100% compliant. If you are talking about paying late fees, then yes. But you are insinuating that we are never late to a call. That is a flat out LIE!!!!! You know why we are still here, for most of us we are still here because we are looking elsewhere. What is our turnover rate? Or do you not want to supply that information. To answer "THE WALL". A mojaority of the time we rely on fire to get the treatment of a patient started, to aid in getting the pt on the gurney and to ride with us to the hospital if the pt is critical. Why don't you all ask MAC, what the procedure would be if the ambulance arrived at the scene to find the ABDOMINAL PAIN pt to be in full arrest. They would then call the FD and would rely on them to assist in providing ALS interventions. They would also call the fire department when they learned the pt was uptairs and couldn't walk. Dont even try to mention the stair chair! What this EMD will rely on is dispatchers to triage the 911 and then decide to send an ambulance or and ambulance and the FD. But have you know, these dispatchers are not nurses, doctors or even EMT's. All for the almighty dollar. First responder fee's and greedy AMR execs are going to destroy this County. Another interesting fact, up until a few years ago, if the call was BLS "Basic life support" the EMT would ride in the back and cost half as much. Now Medics are in the back, and the fee doubles, you have no choice!
Paramedic July 11, 2012 at 07:56 PM
HEY MAC, as far as fact's.... System status is designed to have to fall back on the fire department. How would it work any other way? There is no other way that AMR would be willing to do, like staff more several more ambulances. That would cut into the profit margin. Why don't you also explain to the people that Murrieta is a 60%+ cost recovery City and that the transport cost's are so high because they have to make up for the surrounding Cities, Elsinore, Perris, moreono Vally that don't pay. If Murrieta had it's own transport the cost's could be cut down. Im sure you will have some excuse why the cost wouldn't come down, but the people of Murrieta are free thinkers and they can figure that out for themselve regardless of the trash you try and sell them.
SPK July 11, 2012 at 11:18 PM
THAN DON'T PAY THE $48 FEE AND DON'T CALL 911 WHEN YOU NEED HELP AND STOP WINING
SPK July 11, 2012 at 11:23 PM
IT'S NOT A "TAX" IF IT'S AN OPTION
AFR July 12, 2012 at 12:26 AM
EVO, haha you're an idiot. You can't even end your lame sentence against me correctly. Yep, you must be a Cal-Fire fan. You prove that with every ignorant comment you make. BTW, it's "KMA 367" moron.
AFR July 12, 2012 at 12:33 AM
Welcome back Mark..or MAC or whatever the hell you're going with. Just advice for the future so you don't have employees turn against you and make you look like an idiot on public forums when you lie through your teeth and then we have to turn around and prove you wrong. Take this advice; you can pay your employees very well, and treat them like crap OR you can pay them like crap and treat them very well. AMR managers, like yourself, pay AMR employees like crap and treat them like crap! And you wonder why AMR has a huge turnover and disgruntled employees??? Mark, sounds like you need to go back to school and take a management 101 class. Take Jim Price with ya.
AFR July 12, 2012 at 03:10 AM
I will second that everything "Paramedic" said is factual. MAC is a spin master and needs to take his turn tables someplace else. What do you expect from AMR management? Lies...
EMS mom July 13, 2012 at 12:16 AM
He did answer it. Yes, he works for AMR.
EMS mom July 13, 2012 at 12:31 AM
I have taken MAC's offer to see this proof. I have seen some disturbing times with regard to fire response times in which the city stated was their average times. I would like to ask Mr. Lane why don't we have a link between the Murrieta dispatch and AMR dispatch? The examples and calls I got to hear from Murrieta dispatch are alarming to say the least. Mr. Lane have you seen or heard these calls? Have you looked at the call times not including the cancelled ones. Some appear to have a 30 sec on scene time but those were cancelled on the way. Were those counted in the average? As a citizen I am not happy with the tax but also understand the cut back issue. My main concern is this dispatch link that everyone else has but Murrieta fire.
Taxpayer July 13, 2012 at 02:59 PM
AFR. Hemet population 78,000 and growing , Hemet city Fire does not have paramedics on there fire engines instead Has made the choice to not tax there citizens opened there fire stations to the ambulance company and there are no problems . There department is alot busier and has more stations ?. Your population is 105,000 Can you please explain ? The same ambulance company ? Also dispatched by Mac the spin master ? How much would it save Murriieta to run without paramedics . Isn't there a paramedic on the ambulance in the firestation ? How many paramedics does it take to start an IV or give a pill .
AFR July 14, 2012 at 02:10 AM
Taxpayer, are you kidding? Did you even watch or attend our City Council Meeting on this topic when a Hemet Fire Captain told the story that although Hemet F.D. has trained paramedics, they can only officially work as EMT's and because of that, while they waited for a paramedic to arrive from AMR, (like most fire engine personnel have to do, wait for AMR to show up minutes after they do), the EMT's could not give the patient the medications that she needed, (only a Paramedic is certified to administer those medications), and they had to watch the patient deteriorate and die in front of them. Does that sound like "there are no problems" to you??? The last measure that Hemet F.D. tried to pass on the last ballet to obtain paramedics on their engines failed because the citizens didn't want to pay for it. Now it's costing people their lives and firefighters their jobs, and closing fire stations in Hemet. NOT good for a city that runs over 13,000 calls a year and is considered one of the busiest fire departments in the Nation due to it's call volume vs. population. Now they are talking about closing a 2nd fire station and laying off 9 more firefighters in Hemet and possibly being taken over by Cal Fire. With Obama care coming, if a fire department does not have paramedics, like Hemet F.D., they are NOT able to obtain the first responder fee and fail to have a financial and functional EMS 'model" to receive ANY Obama care funding. Which means it's only going to get worse for Hemet.
AFR July 14, 2012 at 02:29 AM
Taxpayer, continuing....Murrieta F.D. has opened their fire stations to AMR, and has had AMR in 2 of their fire stations for many years, and they only charge AMR 1/2 the rent cost per month that the City of Hemet charges AMR currently. MAC doesn't dispatch anything. He works for AMR as the Communications Manager. So any information and statistics that he gives is bias. In order to obtain the truth, you have to get all the information from BOTH sides, not just from MAC, (AMR). Newspaper reporters have been in Murrieta's dispatch center and have witnessed both fire and AMR being dispatched at the same time. They have reported on this already and you should of already read about it if you get the P.E. They spoke about the money savings of F.D. not having a paramedic and it's $1,800 a YEAR per paramedic. There is one paramedic on each fire engine in Murrieta. There is one paramedic on the ambulance from AMR. F.D. arrives on scene most of the time before the ambulance and can administer life saving medications to the patient in a more timely manner then AMR. Like the Hemet Fire Captain spoke about at the last City Council Meeting, minutes count when it comes to life and death. Most fire departments only hire paramedic firefighters because they are strategically spread out throughout the city and can get on scene faster than an Ambulance that uses a "system status" model which is explained by "Paramedic" in this blog as ineffective, and he claims he is a AMR paramedic.
Taxpayer July 14, 2012 at 07:27 PM
AFR. the money from the new tax will that give us more Murrieta fire department paramedics and will the fire department start transporting in there own ambulances soon ? Will this fee pay for your ambulances ? I'm scared to have these untrained ambulance EMTs in my house now . Can my family request that a fire department paramedic ride with us to the hospital and would it matter if there was a fire that needed the fire engine and the paramedic is with the Ambulance EMTs ? Thanks .
AFR July 14, 2012 at 08:11 PM
Taxpayer, I'll just assume you're being sarcastic and answer your questions anyway. Once again, a tax is different than a fee. This subscription fee is voluntary and the fact that you even called it a tax tells me your bias on this topic but I'll entertain your questions. The money this generates will pay for the paramedics that the fire department has been hiring since 1999. They upgraded to trained paramedics without upgrading a fee to the citizens. The $40 that comes out of your property tax bill is for fire protection only. Murrieta firefighters upgraded their service to the citizens because they didn't want the same problems that Hemet is facing today, and be able to save Murrieta citizen's lives with advanced life support. The City of Murrieta does not have it's 201 transporting rights so they cannot transport per the County of Riverside EMS Office. The County could grant all our cities the right to transport but they won't do that. If you get the County Board of Supervisors to change their minds on that, let me know. I'm sure your not scared about having EMT's in your home and no one mentioned that they are "untrained". That's just you being sarcastic. They are trained in basic life support. Paramedics are trained in advanced life support. The difference between the two, you can Google it. If you call 911 in Murrieta, you will get a F.D. paramedic at your house, then you'll eventually get an AMR paramedic to transport you. As far as fires, that's a whole other topic.
Taxpayer July 14, 2012 at 09:26 PM
One question at a time . If the paramedic I'm paying for is putting out a fire who is coming to my house ?
Kathy July 15, 2012 at 12:58 AM
AFR why are not answering that question? We all wonder that as well.
AFR July 15, 2012 at 04:01 AM
Kathy, I last answered a question at 1:11pm today and then asked another question at 2:26pm. I have a life outside this blog. I can answer any questions you guys may have IF I see them. This blog is 10 days old and there are questions still being asked that have been answered time and time again either on these blogs or in the newspapers or at the city council meetings. Taxpayer, to answer your question I'd like to ask a question. If you call 911 for an ambulance and that ambulance is on another call, what ambulance is going to respond? The answer is the next closest ambulance. Well, it's the same answer to your paramedic question. The next closest paramedic, (on a fire engine), will be the one coming to your house.
AFR July 15, 2012 at 04:16 AM
Kathy, when I see that people like you and "Taxpayer" are brand new to this site and signed up just to comment on this topic, it really makes your intentions pretty clear that you bias and probably work for AMR. So from now on, I'm gonna stick with answering the questions of Murrieta citizens with true concerns.
Kathy July 15, 2012 at 07:22 AM
So let's get rid of the smoke screen of blaming AMR and get back to the issue. First I have a real problem with a city council who makes an unformed decision that affects and costs the citizens of Murrieta as well as those visiting. At no time did our city council discuss options with actual costs. When Shobert was asked about the cost of the city using CALFIRE, his comment was it will "probably" cost more. Who does that and then no one on the council even questions it? Why wasn't there a request sent to CALFIRE asking them to put a plan and cost in writing, and don't tell anyone here that wasnt an option. Norco and Indio turned their fire dept over to CALFIRE due to financial issues In their cities, its obviously it wasn't more expensive. Why isn't the city council hiring an outside consultant to come in and do a cost analysis on all the options presented. Based on the figures then decide what is the best solution for the city. The last council meeting was a 5 hour love fest with one agenda, make the people of Murrieta believe the council members looked at all the options. They want a little Orange County, and are trying to keep up with the joneses. Times have changed folks and we are Riverside Co. Talk about smoke screens that's all that meeting was!
Kathy July 15, 2012 at 07:26 AM
Go ahead AFR bash me like everyone else that doesn't agree with you, facts are facts and I watched that meeting and I challenge anyone to go back and watch it and tell me if any true figures were presented vs "probably" and "I think" and "I believe". The council owes it to the citizens to have had done their homework before charging for a service just because Shobert did it in AZ and one of our city council member does it in Orange Co. on his dept. That doesn't make it right! Come on AFR try and justify it ... And BTW why do you feel you are the expert here. We all have a right to our opinion, not sure why you feel obligated to tell every one why they are wrong?
Kathy July 16, 2012 at 08:03 PM
Wow AFR is speechless! So are you a union rep. for MFD or are you a MFD employee. You want to call people out on here so im calling you out. You have been extremely bias about Murrieta FD so obviously you are connected in some way. Every post you have ever made on here has to do with MFD. hmmmm Mr. Expert? Nope, accusing everyone on here of being bias ... Wow old cliche "kettle calling kettle black" now. Why should anyone believe anything you have to say. Oh BTW the council meeting is online during its sessions and many of us who can't make it in person watch on computers. So when seats are empty it doesn't mean people are not watching. Mr. Randon at least post who he is and let's the people talk to him directly. You hide behind your screen name like a coward. You put peoples addresses on here, what are you a stocker. You have no credibility and need to allow people to have an opinion without your BS comments and insults.
Kathy July 16, 2012 at 08:08 PM
I meant "stalker" but I'm sure I was going to be corrected on my spelling to.
Kathy July 17, 2012 at 02:33 PM
I also was referring to Randon Lane above. Mr. Lane thank you for trying to do the right thing whether it was politically motivated or not it doesn't matter. Putting an additional charge to the citizens should have been a vote by the citizens. Also thank you for making yourself available to discuss the issue as well.
Randon Lane July 17, 2012 at 03:22 PM
Your welcome Kathy.
SPK October 08, 2012 at 11:51 PM
COMPLETELY WRONG ED.P, PATIENT CARE IS ONLY TRANSFERED WHEN THE FIRE DEPT. ELECTS TO. THE PARAMEDIC ON THE FIRE TRUCK CAN RIDE IN WITH THE PATIENT ON THE AMBULANCE AND TRANSFER THE CARE TO THE HOSPITAL IF THEY SEE FIT. PATIENT CARE IS ONLY AUTOMATIC IF YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT BLS CARE TO ALS CARE.

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