TRAA striving to be ‘self sustainable’ financially, Jehl hoping this is a one-time request

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 7:16 PM EDT|Updated: Mar. 14, 2023 at 7:17 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Fort Wayne City Council introduced a resolution to fund Three River’s Ambulance Authority’s financial shortfall, Tuesday.

Mayor Tom Henry says he formed this plan and introduced it to City Council to provide funding assistance to TRAA amid budget concerns.

In February, Henry said his office was preparing for a funding request from TRAA leaders, who say they project a $3.5 million shortfall. As 21Alive has extensively reported, TRAA response times were a source of concern for well over two years. Last year, the TRAA Board of Directors found their contractor in “major default” following numerous months of delayed response times.

A resolution was introduced to city council that would approve a funding agreement between the City and TRAA at their meeting Tuesday. Mayor Henry says the agreement would provide $3 million in funding to TRAA.

Councilman Russ Jehl says he’s hoping this is going to be a one-time request coming from TRAA. Ultimately, he says the ambulance provider needs to be self sustainable with this finances.

“It has cost a fair amount of money, especially to fire the old contractor and acquire it’s assets -- and just like any trip to the emergency room there is a bill that needs to be paid,” Jehl said.

Jehl says he has appreciated Mayor Tom Henry stepping up during this financial set back for the city’s emergency services, even though he hoped he would have stepped in sooner.

“In order to attract and retain staff sufficient to sustain and improve ambulance services, TRAA committed funds outside the scope of its originally-approved budget to pay appropriate wages and cover costs associated with the improvements to the provision of ambulance services, which in turn required TRAA to draw on cash reserves, a course of action which was disclosed in advance to the City and Allen County,” Henry’s administration says in a news release.

They say the funds are required to sustain operations, even as it is working on improving its performance and response times. They say approving the funds to support TRAA in maintaining reliable ambulance services is “in the best interests of the City and County”.

The City says leaders are also awaiting a response from the Allen County Board of Commissioners on whether financial help will come from the County as well.

TRAA Executive Director Joel Benz says they’re hoping to become self sustainable and not have to make any additional requests in the future. However, he says can’t be sure but he’s grateful for the help now.

The Fort Wayne City Council will take a formal vote on the resolution at next weeks meeting.