City agrees to decrease Ambulance Service per capita subsidy to $4

By Charlie Warner
Argus News Editor

After reviewing a number of different proposals, the Caledonia City Council approved a motion to decrease the per capita subsidy for the Caledonia Area Ambulance Service from $7.50 to $4.

Ambulance Director Mike Tornstrom and the council reviewed the most current financial reports on the ambulance service and agreed that the subsidy could be reduced.

During the annual Ambulance Association meeting that was held on March 1, a number of township board members felt that the financial picture of the ambulance service had improved to a point where the per capita subsidy could be eliminated.

“We have worked very hard to get where we are,” Tornstrom said. “I agree that the per capita could be reduced, but I don’t feel it should be eliminated.”

The agreement between the city and the township association provides for the 5,406 persons living within the coverage area to pay for ambulance coverage with the per capita payment. A capital purchase fund has been established for the replacement of one of the two ambulances every five years.

The agreement also stipulates that all excess operating funds be placed in the association’s ambulance replacement fund.

Tornstrom noted that the city has been budgeting $20,000 a year for capital improvement (non-vehicle purchases).

Councilman Paul Fisch added that the city needs to be putting away $25,000 a year for future ambulance purchases.

Councilman Tom Murphy cautioned the council when talk centered around doing away with the per capita. “I don’t think it’s a good idea to cut this (per capita) way back. Let’s see where we are at when the end of the year rolls around and we have a better idea on what kind of year the Ambulance Service has had and how much LGA we will receive,” Murphy said.

Fisch agreed that the city shouldn’t cut out the per capita completely and opined that $5 might be a good compromise.

Councilman Bob Lemke also felt $5 would work.

“I realize we can’t go to zero with this. Jut looking at the numbers, I think somewhere between $2.50 and $5 would be a workable compromise,” Mayor Bob Burns said.

“Before we decide on that amount, I’d like to make a motion that we amend the 2012 budget to include a $25,000 line item for ambulance replacement and a $20,000 line item for equipment purchases,” Burns said.  His motion was seconded by Fisch and passed unanimously.

Burns then made a motion to cut the per capita to $4. That motion was seconded by Fisch and passed 4-1 with Murphy voting against it.

In other council action:

No transport charge increased

Discussion then centered around the no transport charge the Ambulance Service currently has in place.

Tornstrom explained that at time an ambulance might be dispatched to an accident. The the ambulance arrives, the person in the accident refuses treatment and is not treated or transported to a hospital.

Even though the ambulance service incurs the cost of two ambulance personnel and the fuel required to drive to and from the accident scene, the “no transport charge” is waved.

If an ambulance is dispatched to a vehicle accident or other type of person emergency and ambulance personnel provides some treatment but not transported to a hospital, there has been a non transport charge of $75.

“With all the administrative expenses, I recommend that be increased to $100,” Tornstrom said.

A motion by Burns and seconded by Councilwoman Randi Vick to increase the fee to $100 was unanimously approved.

Summer Rec sign-up

The Caledonia Summer Rec sign-up dates will be March 29 from 6 to 8 p.m. and March 31 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the City Municipal Building.

American Legion donation

The American Legion Post 191 has decided to donate the tables and chairs that are located in the basement of the City Municipal Building to the city.

The Legion purchased the tables and chairs years ago and used them for their weekly Bingo events.

The only stipulation, according to Murphy, who is a Legion member, is that the Legion will be able to use the tables for their events.

It was the council’s consensus to approve Murphy’s request.

You can contact Charlie Warner at [email protected]