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Park City Fire District wants financial help from areas it serves throughout Summit County

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Park City Fire District
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Proposed contract changes include Park City being reimbursed for ambulance services.

Summit County finance staff will work with the Park City Fire District so that by next year the district could be financially independent.

Park City Fire District Chief Bob Zanetti told the Summit County Council Wednesday that the fire district budget had a $2.2 million deficit solely due to EMS services this year.

While some level of deficit for EMS services is normal across the country, Zanetti said the district can’t continue to operate at those levels, and it needs more money.

Summit County Councilmember Glenn Wright told KPCW the council directed its chief financial officer to revise the district’s contract. Proposed changes include Park City being reimbursed for ambulance services.

“Park City made the case that their taxpayers are actually subsidizing the rest of the county. And it was perfectly valid," Wright said. "Park City in the future - probably next year - will be handling all of the fire and EMS within the Park City Fire District without any interaction financially with Summit County.”

The North Summit Fire District also wants to move in that direction, but firm plans haven’t been made yet.

North Summit Fire is growing, just like the area around Coalville that it serves. The Park City Fire District took over its emergency services for several months earlier this year. The district went through an overhaul after its entire crew was suspended for insubordination and its then-chief, who worked part time, was fired. In late March Ben Nielson was hired as North Summit’s first full-time fire chief.

South Summit Fire District, which is currently not entirely EMS-trained, will continue to be subsidized by the county.

In a separate discussion on Wednesday, the council heard from all of the county’s public safety officials about emergency management procedures.

Despite improvements made since the Parleys Canyon Fire last year, Wright said the county still has work to do.

“There are issues we have to deal with, primarily I think in the area of emergency evacuation," Wright said. "The Sheriff is responsible, they get help from search and rescue, but we have some neighborhoods that are really unwieldy. Places like Summit Park, Tollgate, Weber Canyon.”

He said another area of concern regards tourists visiting the area.

“Particularly when we have tourists in those areas who aren’t familiar with the roads," he said. "Think of, if you are a tourist renting a house in upper Summit Park, and all of a sudden had to evacuate.”

Summit Park and Timberline residents had to evacuate when the Parleys fire sparked last August.

Easy, low-cost ways to improve visitor safety cited at the meeting Wednesday included educational materials for those staying at short-term rentals.

Parker Malatesta covers Park City for KPCW. Before coming to NPR, he spent one year as a general assignment reporter for TownLift in Park City. He previously was the news editor at The News Record, the student paper at the University of Cincinnati. He loves running, reading, and urban planning.