Venice wants in on ambulance money

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VENICE, Fla. - Sarasota County operates ambulances in the city of Venice, and the county receives about $600 per call. The city provides backup to those emergencies but does not get any money. Now the majority of Venice leaders say that should change.

Venice assisted on 1.900 calls with the county in 2012. Leaders there say it's a lot of time, fuel, wear, and tear. Residents already pay taxes to the county for ambulance service.

"They charge not only the tax but per run." In order to have enough man power, the city sends one of its fire trucks along. Venice Mayor John Holic says they should get something. "What we are looking for is fairness. We are encountering expenses going out on an ambulance call."

The city says a FEMA formula suggests they could be entitled to around $200 per call. The majority of council members voted Tuesday to send the figures to the county for review. All of them but one.

"We have a great association. I think we are heading down the road of unintended consequences." Emilio Carlesimo spent 40 years in a firehouse before retiring. He's concerned the push will complicate more than the relationship with the fire department. The county and city have lots of other deals, from parks and rec to roads and maintenance. "I think it's on balance. I don't think it would benefit the city in the big picture."

Mayor Holic says it's nothing personal. It's just what they feel is right for their department which has had to make hundreds of thousands of dollars in cuts in the past few years. "The county will either say yes or no. They could say you know what, we would rather hire someone else to go out on the calls with us. It's their prerogative too."

Emergency officials with the county say they are aware of Venice's actions Tuesday. They say they are going to review the matter and discuss it a later date.