The Ashley County Quorum Court voted Tuesday to seek a meeting with the Hamburg City Council to determine what the city’s plans for long-term ambulance service in the area may be.
The vote came a month after the Quorum voted to enter into negotiations with ProMed Ambulance about providing ambulance service to the county outside the area covered by the Crossett Fire Department, and approximately six weeks after the Hamburg City Council separately adopted an ordinance seeking voter approval for a one-cent sales tax to fund ambulance service.
The sales tax vote will be in September.
Justice Ronnie Wheeler said Tuesday that after negotiations with ProMed, owner Ken Kelley had said he could bring his initial estimates for service down approximately $14,000.
ProMed’s pre-negotiation proposal to the county, which was submitted in response to a request for bids, gave two options — one asking for a $188,000 a year subsidy, and the second calling for $225,000. The difference between the two was that the more expensive option was for two advanced life support ambulances, while the second was for an advanced life support ambulance and a basic life support ambulance.
In its advertisement, the Quorum had indicated a willingness to subsidize an ambulance service for up to $144,000 for the first year of operation.
Justice Carlton Lawrence said the effort to come down $14,000 represented for Kelley, “an honest effort on his part to present the best scenario he could.”
Lawrence said that in addition to lowering the requested subsidy, Kelley had indicated he was willing to enter into a three-to-five year contract with the county.
Lawrence said he would have liked to bring the plan to the Quorum and to Hamburg for consideration, but Hamburg is not currently in a position to consider it.
“We are pretty much in a situation where there is not an option other than to wait on the City of Hamburg to determine if the citizens of the city will support an ambulance service through a one-cent sales tax,” Lawrence said.
“As far as I am concerned, I am ready to move forward with what we have, and I hope delaying and waiting will not throw any kinks in.
“I can imagine some scenarios that will work and some that will not.”
Wheeler said that the Quorum has, “held the citizens long enough” about the ambulance issue, and that a meeting with Hamburg to talk about a long-term plan was in order.