County Torpedoes EMS Study
Columbia County, FL
(posted March 30, 2010 09:45 am)
The EMS RFP review committee meeting got off to a calm
start, which was soon about to change. Around the table
are (left to right) Mike Lee, Com DuPree, Don Hall, City
Manager Johnson, Councilman Hill, City Clerk Sikes,
County Manager Williams,
County Attorney Marlin Feagle.
Late yesterday afternoon the City/County EMS RFP
Review Committee met to approve an RFP (request for
proposal) which would have gone a long way in providing
answers to the long simmering questions between Columbia
County and Lake City regarding the outstanding $750,000
bill and $250,000 yearly payment that the County claims the City owes for EMS
services. The County torpedoed the plan.
City Manager Johnson kicked off the meeting by
introducing the people and he explained the RFP: "I will
tell you this is not a cookie cutter RFP and it is not
one that I copied off the Internet. I had to build this
from scratch and it took me about two months to put it
CM Johnson continued, saying that
the RFP was designed to provide very comprehensive
components of information that would help both governing
bodies "make a good decision" and said that it didn't
leave much to the imagination.
Eighteen days ago Lake City forwarded to Columbia
County the RFP entitled, "Comprehensive Cost Sharing
Study of Columbia County Emergency Medical Services
County Manager, Dale Williams said that he had
reviewed the RFP and he passed around a copy with his
suggested changes. CM Williams told the Observer that
the changes were made "this afternoon."
CM Williams wanted to strike the word "Comprehensive"
County Manager Dale Williams goes over his suggested
changes, as City Clerk Sikes and Councilman Hill follow
The first change that the County suggested was to
strike the word "Comprehensive" from the title of the
The County then balked at the idea that the study
would "determine levels of cost, distribution of costs
and other factors relating to County/City EMS Services,"
even though the County had already agreed that the study
no stone unturned.
CM Johnson said, "I want to know the real deal. I
want someone besides you or me saying what source of
information can be used to pay these services... I want
an expert to come in and tell me what the sources of
funds are that can be used to pay EMS services and
whether or not the city, in fact, pays its fair share."
CM Williams, "We will disagree."
County Commissioner Jody DuPree asked if this was not
two different elements.
CM Johnson, "It's a matter of fairness."
City Manager Wendell Johnson followed CM Williams'
objections before he spoke.
CM Johnson explained the City's position, "It's a
matter of fairness... when our counterparts in the
county do not pay additional for it."
CM Williams response was barely audible, "That's
The County was backing off the RFP for the study as
fast as it could backpedal.
Commissioner DuPree made it obvious that he hadn't
read, nor did he understand the RFP.
Mr. Hall, the County's citizen representative,
through no fault of his own, was lost in the sea of
County Manager Williams said that the scope of
services that was prepared by the City Manager went
"well beyond the intent of the study."
CM Williams continued, "The only thing that I know to
do is to present it to my Board and let the Board
CM Johnson replied, "That's not part of the
agreement. The Board agreed to let the committee
Former City Councilman, Mike Lee, asked if the CM
Williams knew how other counties funded EMS.
CM Williams said he didn't know and stated, "From our
perspective ... it's what works for us."
The discussion was going nowhere and the light at the
end of the EMS tunnel was getting further away as County
Manager Williams remarked about the RFP.
CM Williams told CM Johnson, "Let's be a little
honest. You wrote it for wishful thinkin."
Com DuPree was the only one who laughed.
CM Johnson, "No I didn't."
CM Williams, "Sure you did."
CM Johnson, "That's a Dale Williams assumption right
CM Williams, "It is."
CM Johnson, "It's funny to you and Jody [Com DuPree]
but I don't hear nobody else laughing."
CM Williams, "Well listen."
CM Johnson, "I've got an easy solution to this. We
just don't pay the $250,000 and consider it square."
CM Williams wasn't laughing anymore, "No, you don't
pay but you know I don't consider it square."
A judge is going to have to do the same thing
CM Johnson, "Let's take it to court – If that's what
you want to do. Just take it to court and let a Judge
decide. He's going to do the same thing. He's going to
Com DuPree said, "That might be the simplest thing to
CM Johnson to CM Williams, "My understanding – the
County Commission made the agreement – the City Council
made the agreement to do this and now you either don't
want to do it because you don't agree with the RFP..."
CM Williams, "Exactly."
Com DuPree: "I agree with Dale [Williams]... I know
the intent of how I understood what we're gonna do. Was
to figure out whose court – what everybody is to make
sure you all were not paying a penny more then what
you're part of the service was... I never anticipated
that we were going to develop an RFP that the outcome
could be – that a position by somebody would be that
we're already collecting the money – so we're not
entitled to anything."
CM Johnson, "Well good gosh – that's been the whole
argument all along."
The meeting closed without any resolution.
After the meeting, City Manager Johnson told the
Observer, "I'm sorry that it turned out this way. I
would have liked to have been able to move forward with
the RFP. I am still hoping that we can."