Alexandria mayor vetoes ordinance on multiple ambulance providers

Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall has vetoed an ordinance passed by the city council last week to allow for multiple ambulance providers.
Published: Jun. 23, 2022 at 5:10 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 23, 2022 at 6:17 PM CDT
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ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - Alexandria Mayor Jeff Hall has vetoed an ordinance passed by the city council last week to allow for multiple ambulance providers because he said it not only violates the charter but is not in the best interests of the people.

After nearly four months of discussion, which included two public hearings, the council voted 4-2 to give other ambulance services the opportunity to operate in the city and compete against the current sole provider, Acadian Ambulance.

In the veto letter, the mayor stated that residents deserve to have the highest quality ambulance service and that it is vital to have the closest unit available in an emergency situation. The mayor added that the council’s ordinance falls short of these goals. Mayor Hall said he worries that the quality of care would be left to random chance for whatever provider was next on the call rotation if the city had more than one provider. He said he has not been shown how multiple services would be better than the current system of a sole provider.

“I’ve asked for the numbers to show us what we are receiving right now as far as timeliness and response and calls to our citizens. Right now, we are in a model that is not just Alexandria, but it’s the entire parish and what would be impacted if we move from one model to the next? That has to be answered. Those questions can’t be asked after you make this move,” Mayor Hall said.

KALB reached out to the city council on their reaction to the mayor’s veto. Council President Catherine Davidson said she does not understand the reasoning behind the veto because the council based its vote on public feedback given over the last four months.

“I talked to citizens, I talked to doctors, physicians, health care providers and all kinds of people, four and a half months’ worth and that simply is his opinion. That’s the mayor’s opinion,” she said. “It just isn’t backed up by the two meetings and the countless emails and text messages that we’ve received.”

The other reason for the veto in the mayor’s letter was that the council’s vote violates the city charter, citing Article 3 that he said “makes clear that all executive and administrative authority is solely exercised by the executive branch.” The veto goes on to say that under the charter, the council adopts ordinances and the mayor enforces them, but that this passed ordinance violates the basic principle of the separation of powers.

“We have a system that’s operating right now, it’s a sole provider,” said Mayor Hall. “I am not saying that we should not look at multiple providers, I’m saying before we look at it, let’s make sure we understand not just verbal but present the quantifiable and the real-life impact of what it is going to cost people, not so much as just money but as timing.”

In the veto, the mayor said it is his understanding that the city is under contractual obligations with Acadian Ambulance as the sole provider and that it is in the city’s best interest to allow Acadian to complete its current term.

Mayor Hall is also recommending proposing an RFP for contracting a sole ambulance provider for emergency and non-emergency services at the end of the contract that the city is currently with.

This is where there is a difference in belief between the council and the administration as Davidson said that they do not have a contract with Acadian.

“I do want to be clear that we are not under contract with any service provider and simply what we were doing was taking back control of how our citizens in the city limits are served in emergency and non-emergency situations,” said Davidson.

The council does have a chance to override the mayor’s veto at the next council meeting scheduled for June 28, but Davidson did note that she does not think the council has enough votes for a two-thirds override, which means the city would stay with a sole ambulance provider.

Mayor Jeff Hall’s Full Letter:

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