Renovations to Titusville City Hall, including work on the air quality and ventilation, new flooring and painting the outside, are part of the proposed 2023 budget. Titusville city manager Neil Fratus said it's long overdue. This was reinforced recently, Fratus said, when he was scolded by a visitor who complained about the poor shape of the historic building.
The municipal parking lot beside city hall is also expected to have an overhaul of either major crack sealing or repaving next year. The city also plans to replace the old and broken parking meters with a new parking kiosk like ones found in several other cities, including Franklin. Fratus said the old-style parking meters are costly to replace and many are in need of immediate replacement.
He said to come up with this year's budget, the city departments and council worked closely together to determine the "needs" of the city and not just the "wants." The result is a budget with not much money left over to spare, but with no tax hike for residents.
One of the "needs" they determined was bringing an ambulance to the fire department. Fratus explained the city has relied on local ambulance services for its emergency transport needs, but has seen a steady increase in recent years where those companies weren't available if needed often because they were on other calls or transporting patients between facilities.
Fratus said that in 2020 the City of Titusville did not have an ambulance available 617 times. That jumped to 966 in 2021 and is well over 1.000 so far this year. Those are times that if someone in the city had an emergency and needed an ambulance they would have to wait for one from another community to arrive. Fratus said that sometimes could take 20 or 40 more minutes than usual.
Council and the city emergency responders agreed that purchasing and manning an ambulance is in the best interest of the city. They will use American Recovery Plan Act funds to seed the program that includes buying a used ambulance and hiring part-time staff.
They are going to try it for the year and continue to look for funding to keep this going, Fratus said.
“You can call it a Band-Aid to the problem,” he said, emphasizing that the local ambulance companies are strapped and trying their best to keep providing services themselves. He also said the city's ambulance is not going to take away work from those other companies and will only be used when they are not available. “It’s not going to make money, but it is a step forward in taking care of the people in Titusville,” Fratus said. "And we're doing for below $200,000. It’s a huge deal."
Fratus said he is hoping to get this up and running as soon as they can in the new year.
To read the proposed budget click here.
The next meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday, December 12.