Toledo City Council voted Tuesday to approve a five-year contract with the University of Toledo to train city paramedics, at a cost of $158,500 a year.
The contract was approved despite an after-vote attempt by some on council to reverse the vote and send the contract to a public hearing first.
Councilman Lindsay Webb said council members had agreed unofficially in their agenda review meeting last Tuesday to delay acting on the ordinance until it went through a public hearing, but she was caught unaware when it was brought up for a vote. The contract ordinance passed 10-0 with Councilman Rob Ludeman abstaining and Councilman Larry Sykes absent.
She called it a no-bid contract that will cost about $800,000 over five years enacted under a lame-duck administration.
“Five years puts it outside the purview of the incoming mayor,” Ms. Webb said, referring to Mayor-elect Wade Kapszukiewicz, who defeated incumbent Mayor Paula Hicks-Hudson for a new four-year term on Tuesday. She said council should have approved a one-year contract to allow the new class of firefighter paramedics to begin their training in December.
Mayor-elect Wade Kapszukiewicz answers questions during a mayoral candidate debate at the First Unitarian Church in Toledo.
Mr. Kapszukiewicz, commenting later in a phone interview with The Blade, said the ordinance should have been slowed down for more review.
"We could have done that cheaper in-house. There's classroom space in Station 6," he said. "There was an opportunity to save money."
Ms. Webb during Tuesday’s meeting made a motion to reconsider the vote, but that motion received only six votes, one short of the necessary seven-vote majority.
Mr. Ludeman abstained because he said he wanted to know whether the university’s accreditation issues would affect the paramedic training program.
Fire Chief Luis Santiago said he knew of no reason that the loss of accreditation by the University of Toledo Medical Center’s physician assistant program would affect its paramedic training program.
The Accreditation Review Commission on Education for the Physician Assistant notified the university in October that the UT program was “no longer capable of providing an acceptable educational experience for its students.” The university is appealing the loss of accreditation.
UTMC is the former Medical College of Ohio hospital.
Chief Santiago said UT’s training of Toledo paramedics is the best available locally. Chief Santiago said a class of 15 is set to begin soon. He said the city has been using UT’s Life Support Training Center program for five years.
The legislation exempted the program from the city’s competitive bidding procedures because of its “unique suitable educational facilities.”
The contract provides for “use of classroom and office space, administrative support, simulation skills training and testing and educational delivery and certification.”
Also Tuesday, Council voted to spend $216,930 for Toledo Police for camera system upgrades and 17 new police cameras downtown that were required by a 2015 development agreement between the city and ProMedica. The agreement spells out incentives for the company to relocate its corporate headquarters downtown.
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