June 1 rolled by, and even though there was a threat they would close on that date, FAST Ambulance Service is still rolling on the roads and plans to be until at least Sept. 11.
The service agreement the company had with Ashley County Medical Center, which allowed the hospital to help the financially struggling ambulance provider break even each month, ended May 31.
The Hamburg City Council voted last week, however, to increase the city’s subsidy to FAST in an attempt to prevent the service from going out of business until the sales tax can be approved and revenue collected.
Prior to the Tuesday night meeting, the city allocated $1,000 a month to FAST in conjunction with payments made by the county. The county, however, has removed funding.
At the same city meeting, the council also approved an ordinance to schedule a special election for the voters to decide whether to implement a one percent sales tax to fund a municipal ambulance. The special election was set for Sept. 11.
According to the ordinance, the sales tax, should the voters adopt it, would be used to fund the operating expenses of an ambulance service to be operated by or on behalf of the city and the acquisition of equipment and improvements for the operations of the service.
Hamburg Mayor Dane Weindorf said despite the Ashley County Quorum Court’s move to begin accepting bids for ambulance service in the county outside the coverage area of the Crossett Fire Department, the City of Hamburg will still move forward with its own service.
Weindorf said that the city will seek additional support from a United States Department of Agriculture grant of $75,000 to help equip its ambulance units.
City Attorney Paul Keith said with the adoption of the resolution and the establishment of the special election, the only thing left for the council to do is “engage the citizens to adopt the sales tax.”
The council also approved a resolution approving engagement of counsel for services related to the sales tax.