Now that Hamburg’s voters have passed a sales tax to fund an ambulance service, Mayor Dane Weindorf says it is time to address how the city will use the money.
Earlier this month, Hamburg citizens voted to pass a permanent one cent sales tax so that the city could provide an ambulance service to its residents and residents in the surrounding area.
When an audience member at the Hamburg City Council’s meeting Monday evening asked when the decision would be made, the mayor explained that the money would not start coming in until March of 2019.
City Council member Mike Sanderlin said that the committee formed to study the issue would at least need a few months to study the options so that they could accurately report back to the council.
The mayor said that city can hire a private company to run the service or create an ambulance service that is fully funded and operated by the city of Hamburg.
He has previously appointed council members Sanderlin, DeAnne Murphy and Daniel Shelton to work on an ambulance committee with citizens David Harrod, Janice Rucker and Tracey Longstreth. The committee will research the options and report back to the council over the next couple of months.
Weindorf said there are pros and cons no matter which avenue they decide to take, but it will be the committee’s job to weigh those pros and cons.
In the meantime, the City of Hamburg and Ashley County will continue to subsidize FAST Ambulance service in the amount of $10,000 per month to cover all areas the Crossett Ambulance service does not cover until Hamburg’s new ambulance service is in place.
The county government has not yet paid the City of Hamburg for the portion of the subsidy the Quorum Court had previously agreed to pay, and Hamburg’s general fund account is now in need of a loan.
The Ashley County Quorum Court had agreed to the arrangement in principal last month, but did not immediately approve the necessary intergovernmental agreement because of some disagreement about the wording and legal form when it was presented to the Court.
The Hamburg council approved Monday that the general fund borrow money from the capital improvement fund to cover the subsidy until the county pays it back.
Weindorf said he expects to see money from the county very soon.