Ambulance Authority asks Commissioners to consider making voluntary emergency ambulance fee mandatory

Photo by Beth Christian Broschart
Larry Armbruster, president of the Tucker County Ambulance Authority, asks Tucker County Commissioners to consider making the now voluntary emergency ambulance fee a mandatory fee.

PARSONS – Larry Armbruster, president of the Tucker County Ambulance Authority, said the voluntary ambulance fee asked of Tucker County residents was very unsuccessful and on Wednesday Armbruster asked Tucker County Commission members to consider making the fee mandatory.

Armbruster said when the voluntary fee was implemented last year the hope was to generate around $175,000 to $180,000. He said the voluntary fee brought in scarcely more than $15,000.

“That’s one of the reasons we do not have 24/7 coverage at one of our two stations,” Armbruster said. “The money is just not there to do it. To maintain the goal of 24/7 coverage and to do the other necessary things, the Tucker County Ambulance Authority voted at their last meeting to ask the Commission to make the Ambulance Fee a mandatory fee by modifying the ordinance to make the fee mandatory instead of voluntary.”

Armbruster said with the modification from voluntary to mandatory, he hopes the EMS will be able to provide the service to Tucker County residents they deserve.

Commission President Lowell Moore agreed the voluntary fee did not bring in as much as they had anticipated.

“This is something we are going to have to work out,” Moore said. “We have to read the ordinance and Commissioner Diane Hinkle is not here today.”

Moore asked the issue be tabled until Commissioners had time to discuss the possible change and learn what steps they would be necessary to make if they voted to change the fee from voluntary to mandatory.

The voluntary ambulance fee was established by the Tucker County Commission and became effective July 1, 2016. The voluntary fee requests were mailed with Tucker County tax tickets and asked for a voluntary payment of $25 per residence and a voluntary payment of $50 from businesses and residents who owned rental property.

Armbruster reported on the goals set by the Tucker County Ambulance Authority for the EMS last year.

“When we made this proposal a year ago, we provided you with some goals we had set as an Ambulance Authority,” Armbruster said. “I want to go over those goals to give you an update on how we are doing so far.”

Armbruster said the goals were to provide 24/7 coverage from two EMS stations, to respond to a call within 10 to 25 minutes, to increase employee pay to competitive rates, to maintain and replace equipment to meet current needs, to increase the number of paramedics for better patient care and to continue to maintain a third station as circumstances dictate.

“We have come close to the two stations providing 24/7 coverage from two EMS stations. We are running 12 hours a day at two stations and the night shift is manned at one station which is alternating between the Parsons and Thomas. So we…

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