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MedStar passes stop-gap October budget, puts building on the market

A MedStar ambulance sits off Lancaster Avenue July 25.
Sandra Sadek
Fort Worth Report
A MedStar ambulance sits off Lancaster Avenue July 25.

Area municipalities have already passed their 2024 fiscal year budgets. But MedStar, the regional EMS provider, is holding off passing a year-long budget of its own.

Instead, board members approved a stop-gap October budget as the provider waits to see how much member municipalities are willing to invest in its future. Fort Worth City Council set aside $4.2 million in funding for MedStar in September, but won’t actually allocate any of those funds before hearing how much other member cities are going to contribute. That allocation vote is expected in late October.

“The board isn’t sure exactly which way to go forward until they have confirmation that the mayor and council have appropriated those dollars,” MedStar CEO Ken Simpson said.

The single-month budget allows MedStar to continue operations through October and begin work on some of its capital refresh projects, including remounting ambulances. Simpson said passing a single month budget was possible because regardless of the cities’ funding decisions, the beginning of the fiscal year would look similar in terms of costs.

Board members also approved putting one of the organization’s buildings up for sale. The building, at 2944 S. Grove St., has sat largely unused after MedStar moved its operations to another area of Fort Worth. There were plans to use it as a back-up communication center, but that use never materialized.

“It is a backup facility that has not been used since I’ve been here, since 2017,” Simpson said. “Knock on wood, we haven’t had to use it. We’ve been able to use other places, especially as technology has advanced. And so, it just kind of makes sense to sell it.”

The asking price is $900,000, and the marketing and sale will be handled by Transwestern Commercial Realtors. Simpson said the property has several unique, attractive features, including a backup generator that services the entire building and a tornado-hardened exterior.

Both the October budget passage and the listing of the 2944 S. Grove St. property come as MedStar is contending with declining reimbursements from Medicare and Medicaid, rising costs and higher call volumes. In light of the provider’s financial struggles, the city of Fort Worth has commissioned a third-party study of existing EMS structures and potential alternatives.

The $4.2 million in funding would help MedStar maintain services throughout the duration of the study. Depending on how much its member cities invest, the organization could be forced to make some difficult cost-cutting moves, according to previous reporting.

This article first appeared on Fort Worth Report and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Emily Wolf is a local government accountability reporter for the Fort Worth Report. She grew up in Round Rock, Texas, and graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a degree in investigative journalism. Reach her at for more stories by Emily Wolf click here.