As leaders from Greenfield and several other municipalities anxiously await County Executive Chris Abele's decision regarding an amendment proposed by the County Board and the county’s paramedic program, Greenfield Mayor Michael Neitzke vowed the residents of his city will not see a change in service.
At least not in the immediate future.
Last week, the County Board voted to restore $1.5 million of the $3 million stripped by Abele’s budget for the program. That amendment means Greenfield would receive approximately $100,000 in subsidies, far less than the $250,000 it has received as part of the agreement in the past.
Neitzke constructed his 2012 budget, which will be voted on at a public hearing Tuesday, with a $250,000 contingency plan built in, ensuring the service will not be interrupted beginning Jan. 1. But looking past 2012, the picture isn’t as clear.
“We bought time by budgeting money for the contingency plan,” Neitzke said. “I’m not sure we can do that (in 2013 and beyond).”
Neitzke said he’s not sure the $100,000 subsidy will be there beyond 2012 because part the board's amendment calls for the current county paramedic contract being voided and a new one being created. That new contract also calls for funding distributions determined by the County Board and not the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council or local fire chiefs and asking municipalities to work toward “creating cooperative efforts.”
“Would we be happy with ($100,000)? You sort of have to take what you can get," Neitzke said. "The part about this whole thing is they voided the contract. That’s the weird thing. They said, ‘You’re going to renegotiate a new (contract) and you’re going to do it this way and if you don’t, you don’t get the money and we’ll give it to someone else.”
"They’ve said that if you agree to the (subsidy payment) formula, we’ll renegotiate and we’ll pay you some of the money in the future, maybe. It’s really up in the air.”
Neitzke made his feelings about the County Board's decision known in his comments left on Greenfield Patch on a story about the board’s amendment last week. He pulled no punches, even questioning if the board “has demonstrated good decision-making over the last decade and a half” and defending the ICC, which drew criticism from Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic.
“They’re playing around with the program and we’re the ones that provide the service,” Neitzke said. “That’s the irony.”