Cole County and Jefferson City are finalizing a memorandum of understanding that is needed in order to potentially make a downtown ambulance base a reality.
During the Tuesday meeting of the Cole County Commission, Western District Commissioner Harry Otto said the city and county should have the deal worked out in a week. The commission is working with Jefferson City to seek a Community Development Block Grant to be used to build the station.
Because the project would be located in the city, the city would apply for the grant on behalf of the county, which operates the EMS service. The city can apply for up to $2 million in block grants to the project. A preliminary engineering report by The Architects Alliance study, which was done to fulfill one of the CDBG application requirements, said the project would cost more than $2.8 million, with the grant paying the majority of the costs and the rest coming from funds out of the half-cent sales tax for the EMS service.
If the grant is approved, the city would be responsible for the oversight of the activities of the grant.
Otto said the commission should adopt the MOU at its meeting Jan. 18 and the Jefferson City Council, which normally meets Monday nights, but will meet the evening of Jan. 18 because of the Martin Luther King Holiday, is expected to approve the MOU at its meeting. EMS Chief Eric Hoy said a public hearing, which is required, will be at the Jan. 18 commission meeting before the commission vote.
How soon the city and county could find out if the funding was awarded is unknown.
The proposed site for the station would be on a county- owned parking lot across from the county jail on Adams Street.
Currently, an ambulance is stationed in the county jail, but officials said creation of a downtown ambulance station would improve efficiencies and expand services.
The proposed two-level station with three bays would allow the EMS service to put two ambulances in operation in the downtown area 24 hours a day and seven days a week, Hoy said. He said the ambulance currently housed in the county jail helps control costs. However, due to the operations of the jail it can present challenges so it's not an ideal location.
The calls for service in the downtown area are higher than in any other location in the coverage area with an average of 10 calls a day. Hoy said those calls for service are double what they see at their other locations.