An outside consultant is the next step as the city continues to assess the St. Croix EMS, the Hudson Common Council agreed Monday.

Council Members Jim Webber and Joyce Hall presented an update from the EMS ad hoc committee that has been working on the issue of EMS for about 8 months.

Webber said an outside consultant can analyze structural and organization options for the service and see what the best options are for the see as well as providing a cost analysis for those options.

Council Member Randy Morrissette agreed that an outside look is needed.

"Get the politics out of it and have a third set of eyes look at it from a different angle," he said.

Mayor Rich O'Connor said the idea to bring in a consultant was first presented about a year ago by former Council Member Tom McCormick.

"I just want to make sure that I've got it straight that a year later, more than a year later, you're coming back with the same solution that was recommended that you guys rejected," O'Connor said.

Hall said the committee now had a better understanding of what is needed and what the consultant will do for the city.

"I don't think we even knew the right questions to ask at the time," Webber said.

A consultant could also help with a community engagement process to see what the community wants from its service and what it's willing to pay for it. Hall said community engagement could also show if a referendum would pass.

Webber said it would be difficult to ask people about choices if the details on advantages and disadvantages aren't provided. Council Member Sarah Atkins Hoggatt said she would like the city to look through the initial options with a consultant, and go more in-depth on three before presenting them to the community.

"We can't just go out there and say, 'There's a million options, what do you guys think?'" Atkins Hoggatt said.

O'Connor said after running in a mayor's race that was mainly focused on the issue of EMS, he heard that the community wants reliable, fully staffed service at the lowest possible cost. He said he didn't know if further community outreach was necessary.

Council Member Paul Deziel said in his campaigning the majority of people told him they wanted the city and its partners to own the service instead of privatizing it.

O'Connor said Deziel did not run citywide, and his own door knocking in Deziel's district led to different conversations.

"I don't think we can be saying that public at large is wanting a municipally-owned entity," O'Connor said. "I'm not saying that's not the case but that's not the result of the last election."

O'Connor asked if the EMS partners town of Hudson, village of North Hudson and town of Troy have been engaged during the ad hoc committee's process. Hall said they have made reports to the EMS Commission and the ad hoc committee meetings have been open.

No action was taken by the council. The proposal will be presented at the next meeting of the EMS Commission, which includes representatives from the partners.