Pflugerville City Council held a joint meeting with Travis County Emergency Services District No. 2 officials May 31 to discuss funding options related to ambulance services.

The meeting came after council voted May 24 to arrange a discussion with ESD 2 officials.

In a 4-3 vote at the May 31 joint meeting, council voted in favor of an interim franchise agreement with ESD 2 to provide ambulance services through the end of the fiscal year in September.

Mayor Pro Tem Doug Weiss and Council Members Kimberly Holiday and David Rogers voted no.

The vote did not officially approve an agreement; it just directed city staff to prepare an agreement that council will vote to formally approve at a future meeting.

Discussion at the joint meeting centered on funding options and long-term emergency medical services plans.

Funding has previously been a source of contention between the city and ESD 2, but ESD officials presented several possible options for bringing down the projected $2.9 million annual price tag for ambulance services.

The two primary options officials presented were allowing ESD 2 to handle all interfacility transfers and increasing certain transport fees.

According to materials from ESD 2, taking over interfacility transfers would net an additional $826,000 in revenue. Increasing transport fees could bring in several hundred thousand more dollars in revenue, depending on the size of the increase.

In all, the two measures would allow ESD 2 to bring the cost to the city down to as low as $291,096 with a 50% increase in fees.

ESD 2 materials indicate after a 50% increase, ESD 2's fees would remain competitive with those charged by Acadian Ambulance Services. For instance, ESD 2's emergency transport fee would be $1,614 after a 50% increase, while Acadian's emergency transport fee is $1,984.

"We do believe ESD 2 to be a better option, but it has a higher price tag associated with it," Weiss said.

Once funding options had been clarified, discussion turned to the future.

Council members said working with the city's EMS provider to create a joint internal EMS department would be a priority moving forward to avoid future hangups or disruptions in service.

"If we're not working on this collectively and collaboratively as soon as possible, then 20 years from now ... there will be a City Council here visiting with another ESD, having the same discussion," Mayor Victor Gonzales said.

ESD officials said they would be open to discussions on the matter in the future, but they would not yet commit to helping the city establish an internal department.

"Tonight, I'm not willing to make some 20-year commitment without even seeing what it would look like," ESD 2 board Vice President Rico Reyes said.

Some council members, including Rogers, said they were hesitant to move forward without being certain ESD 2 would help with a future transition to in-house EMS.

"Whoever we work with has got to help us move to a long-term solution, and if [ESD 2] aren't willing to help us go to a long-term solution, then we've got to go somewhere else," Rogers said.

Council will consider approval of an agreement with ESD 2 at an upcoming regular meeting. As proposed at the joint meeting, an agreement would go into effect July 1 and last until the end of September.