Council grants TRAA funding, amendment added putting pressure on county

Published: Mar. 28, 2023 at 9:07 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Fort Wayne City Council has granted Three Rivers Ambulance Authority the $3 million in funding they need to fill a financial shortfall.

The council voted to pass the resolution unanimously after a presentation from TRAA Executive Director Joel Benz. He discussed their funding at Thursday night’s board meeting. He says their numbers continue to improve as well.

In February, Mayor Tom 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 the beginning of March. 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 and held accountable in the future.

Prior to the council’s vote Tuesday, Jehl introduced an amendment to the resolution. Jehl’s amendment grants TRAA the funding $1 million at a time. The first payment will be sent immediately. He says the second payment will come when they get an update from the county. The third payment, he says, payable after TRAA leaders report to council and prove they’ve used the fund efficiently.

Jehl says council wants to put pressure on the county government to step in and help too. He says council will still give TRAA the funding they need even if the county doesn’t help, but they want to make sure there’s they’re held accountable.

21Investigates reached out to the county commissioners asking if they plan to give TRAA any funding. They shared the following statement:

Benz says TRAA ambulances service roughly 30,000 people outside of Fort Wayne city limits and respond to a substantial number of county calls when they can.

Stay with 21Alive for updates on this developing story.