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Sedgwick Council OKs Halstead Taking Over EMS

Posted 9/21/2017

EMS Contract

SEDGWICK – In a surprise move at Monday night’s regular city council meeting, the council voted to approve an emergency services contract with Halstead, without the review of an independent legal council.

Council members first received a copy of the contract a week ago. Discussion of the contract was not even on the agenda, but that changed almost as soon as the gavel sounded.

Council member Rick Jacob amended the agenda to add discussion of the issue at the beginning of the meeting. 

Jacob asked if everyone had received a copy of the contract and had time to review it. Council members said they had done both.

Mayor Lynne Vigil told council, “We just haven’t had an independent review, which is what (city attorney) Brad (Jantz) recommended for each city to do. We will schedule a meeting later this week and then I spoke to the city administrator of Halstead and hope to meet with him Tuesday or Wednesday,” Vigil said.

Jantz is the city attorney for both cities.

Jacob said, “I am prepared at this point to move on and pass this as written tonight. I’ll make a motion to accept Halstead’s EMS contract agreement as such.” 

Council member Richard Ludowese seconded the motion. Vigil said, “Against legal advice? Brad how does that work?”

Jantz responded, “They are free to do it.”  Vigil asked for discussion, which there was none. The motion passed 5-0.

Council member Carol Berning spoke up with another motion. “I would further like to move that on signing the agreement today, that the signed contract be passed off to Mr. Jantz, to forward to independent council for their review and letter of opinion as quickly as possible,” Berning said. 

The motion was amended to send the contract to independent council without the signature of the mayor.

Assistant Fire Chief Monty Leonard spoke up from the audience and was allowed to ask a question. Leonard asked, “Why would you send it (the contract) to independent council after it is already signed?” 

Berning answered saying, “We would like another set of eyes on it in case there are liability issues.”

Jacob jumped in the discussion, addressing Leonard. “If there is an issue we will revisit it. Everything looks good; the attorneys have already looked at it. Halstead has made it clear there are no negotiations left. If there is any nuance in the contract, verbiage wise we would need to revisit, we would. But at his point, nobody sees anything like that and two attorneys have already seen it and I don’t think a third one is going to make any difference,” Jacob said. 

He added that he didn’t want to spend any more time or money working on the contract. Leonard spoke up saying he thought the move was shortsighted. Jantz drafted the document and an independent counsel for Halstead also reviewed it.

The motion passed 5-0.

Halstead’s EMS Director Anderson Lowe and City Administrator Ethan Reimer were also in the audience. After the meeting, Lowe said the action was unexpected. “Ethan and I went to the meeting to see where everything was at. We had been told there would be other scheduled meetings and wanted to get a time frame.  The decision was unexpected,” Lowe said.