County, city governments talking temporary ambulance funding
By VERSHAL HOGAN and STAFF REPORTS
Oct 5, 2017, 14:56
Representatives of Ashley County’s governments said this week they’re working to contribute the temporary funding to keep an ambulance service in the delta area into the New Year.
Ashley County Medical Center has had a service agreement with FAST Ambulance of Hamburg to help the company keep its doors open since June. The hospital’s board agreed last week to extend that agreement, which was set to expire Oct. 1, but said it would only do so if the county government and other municipalities also started contributing to the cause by November.
Ashley County Judge Jim Hudson said Tuesday the Quorum Court will have a budget committee meeting at 10 a.m. Friday to discuss the matter.
“It is a budget committee meeting on if or how we are going to subsidize the ambulance until the first of the year, until we see what the (final) proposal is, however the Quorum Court decides to do this,” Hudson said.
The Court has taken steps to draft an ordinance that will form an ambulance service district and put in place a mandatory user fee for residences and businesses within the district, but some details of the plan — including how much the user fee will be — still have to be decided before the Court can adopt and implement the plan.
If the Court adopts the plan, the service district will cover all of Ashley County not currently covered by the Crossett Fire Department’s ambulance service.
While the Court irons out how — and if — the plan will be implemented, municipalities in the delta say they plan to kick in their own funding to help keep the current ambulance service agreement in place.
Hamburg Mayor Dane Weindorf said the city council met last week and agreed to contribute $2,500 a month to the service agreement.
Hamburg had previously dedicated funds to subsidizing FAST, but had ceased giving the money when the company entered the service agreement with the hospital. The funds were already budgeted, however, and the council’s September vote allowed the resumption of payments without significant bookkeeping challenges.
In Wilmot, Mayor Carolyn Harris said she will recommend at this month’s city council meeting that the city contribute $1,000 a month, while Portland Mayor Gary Morgan said the matter will also be discussed at the next municipal meeting.
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