Largo Forces Pinellas County into Mediation over EMS Cuts
Wednesday, April, 23, 2014
Largo, Florida, a city under the jurisdiction of Pinellas County, has voted to compel the County into mediation as a precursor to a possible lawsuit over proposed budget cuts that would reduce the county’s emergency medical services budget by $2.3 million. The county EMS budget funds the emergency services that respond to 70% of all emergency calls in the county, including the city of Largo.
Mediation is mandated by state law when municipalities and counties have disputes over budgetary and other administrative issues, so the city council of Largo had few other options. Largo had requested a meeting with county officials to negotiate the budget cuts, but county officials flatly refused, asserting their authority to manage the county budget as they saw fit. With the city council vote, county officials are now required by law to participate in the mediation process. If it fails, Largo will be legally clear to vote to sue the county over the matter.
Largo has upped the ante by inviting other affected cities and fire districts to join the mediation process, and the possible lawsuit, hoping to pressure the county with a show of solidarity. So far there has been no official word of any other cities or districts officially joining the mediation process.