INDIAN RIVER COUNTY — Though it will mean taking another $62,000 out of the $14 million reserves from the Emergency Services District, two men who supervise about 70 paramedics will remain on the job in their current positions.Steve Adamson and Ed Kuvlesky are those two men, who serve as Emergency Medical Services supervisors. Adamson has been a paramedic for 30 years, 20 of those in Indian River County. Kuvlesky started with the County 20 years ago as a paramedic and worked his way up to supervisor. “I see it not as a victory for us, but a victory for the community,” Kuvlesky said. The two supervisors were to be demoted and reassigned, one to a training position and one to become a firemedic at one of the stations, probably the new Station 12 set to open if Gifford in October. The $62,000 will hire a new paramedic for Station 12 and it breaks down to $37,000 salary plus benefits.On a daily basis, Adamson and Kuvlesky work a 24-hour shift and serve as a resource to about 35 paramedics and firemedics each day. They go out to calls with serious injuries or what the department calls MCIs (Multi-Casualty Incidents) and help perform triage and prioritize the treatments of patients on the scene.Though there was much discussion over the zero-dollar amount budgeted for new capital expenditures in the Emergency Services District budget, commissioners decided not to allow the expenditure of local-option sales tax money to purchase new fire engines or ambulances, on the grounds that the other four municipalities whose residents are served by the Indian River County Fire Department would not be contributing to those expenditures.
It was mentioned that the City of Vero Beach has already committed its portion of the extra penny tax to operating a golf course. Commissioner Wheeler urged staff to seek cooperation in future budget years from the other municipalities on the funding of the much-needed replacement vehicles.Commissioners were also against raising the Emergency District millage rate for further expenditures or to prepare to staff future expansions of department services. The district’s millage rate will remain 1.7148, which is the rollback millage rate, meaning it will not increase taxes, despite the drastic reduction in property values throughout the County.Commissioner Bob Solari said he wanted to emphasize that the Fire Rescue budget met the 14 percent target budget cuts and that, though the lack of investment is justified this year to not impose more taxes on the homeowner, he’s concerned about the long-term affects of not putting money into new equipment.”A zero capital budget is not sustainable, especially when we’re looking at public safety,” Solari said.Keeping the EMS supervisors in their positions takes a bargaining chip away from Assistant County Administrator Mike Zito and Human Resources Director Jim Sexton when they meet with firefighter union representatives in the next week. The county is hoping to negotiate away the firefighters’ 5 percent step raises.
Commissioners have asked County Administrator Joe Baird to make himself personally available to negotiate directly with the firefighters union.
Commissioners plan to take up the budgets of the constitutional officers, including the Sheriff’s Office, and all of the outside service agencies this afternoon.