Borough Mayor discusses emergency services ordinances

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FAIRBANKS, Alaska Fairbanks North Star Borough Mayor Bryce Ward held a press conference Tuesday April 11, 2019 to discuss and ordinance sponsored by Ward and one sponsored by the previous Borough Mayor Karl Kassel.

Ordinance 2019-12 introduced by Ward, would establish a regional emergency services advisory committee also referred to as RESAC, as an alternative to Former Mayor Kassel's ordinance titled 2018-24.

Kassel’s proposed ordinance would eliminate five fire service area commissions and create a fire and emergency medical service advisory committee.

“So the fundamental change for the RESAC is it is a committee versus a commission. So what it would do it would stand up ordinance 19-12 would stand up a new committee of the assembly and it would be chaired by a member of the assembly and the presiding officer would appoint the members of that committee. It would be similar to the RESAC committee which is for road service areas, this would be specific for emergency services,” said Ward.

“… What it would do for our committee it would bring in folks that are not existing contractors, that do not have a financial interest in contracts with the borough, to be able to look at the delivery of services, emergency services, to borough residents particularly looking at the EMS contracts and the level of delivery service model that we currently have or don’t have,” he added.

Ward said RESAC would bring in people that would be able to give direction to the assembly and to the administration on changes that they could implement to a contract.

One reporter asked what problem does that address for the Borough.

“So currently we have resources that are scattered throughout the borough for EMS in particular that are based on fire service assets. So whether that be a fire service station or a city asset that we have contracted with, they have really been the placement of the apparatus and the teams of the staff that service them are specific to those resources. Based on growth in the community that we have seen over the last several decades, where we have those currently positioned may not be the most appropriate for adequate levels of service delivery, “said Ward.

He said there are certain areas of the borough that have a really good response time for ambulances. Some that are less than ten minutes. Then there are other areas that have greater than 20 minutes in response time for essentially for the same taxing area.

“I think the idea of having a committee assembly is one where those decisions which could be fundamental decisions in the delivery of service could be addressed at the assembly level without the bias of other contractors, really looking at it in a community perspective,” he said.

Ward said he believes the intent behind Mayor Kassel’s ordinance was to really address some of these regional issues the borough has been experiencing.

“There is a little more ownership from the assembly verses a commission which the commissioners are appointed by the mayor, it is really an administration driven,” said Ward. “So the big push is that we want to make sure the assembly is full bought in to the proposals that come forward,” he added.

Ward said he definitely see’s where Mayor Kassel was going, but believes they will have better luck with the RESAC ordinance.

“So I’m in favor of the one that I sponsored and would like to see the other one voted down,” he said.