Fort Worth council approves budget, including $4.2 million to cover MedStar shortfall

The Fort Worth City Council voted Tuesday to approve the 2024 budget, including $4.2 million in transitional funding for MedStar.

Currently the $4.2 million is set to come out of Fort Worth’s coffers, but city manager David Cooke said discussions are ongoing with the other cities in MedStar’s service area to determine how much they will contribute.

“They all want to participate,” Cooke said, adding that it’s just a matter of the details being worked out.

The ambulance provider services 14 cities in Tarrant County, including Fort Worth, Haltom City, White Settlement, Saginaw and Sansom Park, according to the agency’s website.

Assistant city manager Valerie Washington told the Star-Telegram in August that any amount contributed by the partner cities will lower the amount Fort Worth has to pay but won’t increase the amount MedStar receives.

MedStar hasn’t received funding from Fort Worth and the other member cities since 2010.

MedStar spokesperson Matt Zavadsky said expenses to retain emergency medical technicians and paramedics have drastically increased since the COVID-19 pandemic and at the same time insurance companies are paying less. The result is a shortfall that MedStar has had to make up by using reserve funds, he said.

Washington emphasized the funding for MedStar is transitional so the ambulance service can maintain normal operations while Mayor Mattie Parker’s Ad Hoc Council Committee on Emergency Medical Response reevaluates MedStar’s services and reviews other EMS models.

The committee has until April 30, 2024, to complete its review and recommend “the best path forward for Fort Worth’s Emergency Medical Services,” according to a letter from Parker addressed to the Fort Worth City Council.

The money for the transitional funding is in the non-departmental fund of the 2024 budget, according to Washington. Another council vote will be required before the $4. 2 million can be turned over to MedStar.