Travis County renews EMS contract with city of Austin amid planning for long-term agreement

Travis County commissioners approved the extension of a contract with the city of Austin to receive EMS services at a meeting Sept. 24.

Travis County commissioners approved the extension of a contract with the city of Austin to receive EMS services at a meeting Sept. 24.

Travis County commissioners voted unanimously to renew an interlocal agreement with the city of Austin for emergency medical services for fiscal year 2019-20 while work continues on a longer-term agreement intended to improve response times and cut costs to the county.

“I am very pleased with the approach that you have taken. I think there had been an erosion of trust in some of our more rural [emergency services districts],” said commissioner Jeff Travillion, who represents Precinct 1.

This contract with the city will cost the county $13.16 million, an increase of 2.1% from that of FY 2018-19. The city retains all revenue it collects for EMS services delivered in the county.

The cost of the agreement to the county increased despite the city’s decision to lower its annual service fee by $1.8 million, mostly due to increases in salaries and benefits for Austin-Travis County EMS personnel.

This agreement continues according to terms set in FY 2018-19, which were informed by the county’s determination in FY 2017-18 that EMS services were not consistently meeting established performance standards.

Charles Brotherton, Travis County executive for emergency services, said EMS response times remain steady, with “acceptable variation” from goals, at a Sept. 24 meeting.

According to a brief prepared by county staff, the interlocal agreement into which the city and county entered in FY 2018-19 and which was extended at a Sept. 24 meeting “continues a process of system improvement while incentivizing City as the service provided to improve response time compliance at a more efficient cost to its customers.”

Travis County will work over the coming year or two to develop a succeeding agreement that will include provisions for a five-year plan to improve EMS services in Austin and Travis County.

“One of the things that we will need to be looking at is making sure that we are providing value to those county residents, those county taxpayers, who are paying [emergency services districts] taxes, overlay taxes, sales taxes for provision of medical transportation services within their [districts],” Brotherton told commissioners.


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