The Columbus and Bartholomew County governments will split evenly the cost of paying for emergency ambulance service.
Columbus Mayor Kristen Brown told The Republic on Friday that she would no longer ask the county to pay the entire $300,000 cost in 2013 for Columbus Regional Hospital to provide ambulance service.
Instead, the city will include $150,000 in its budget.
“There’s no support among any (Bartholomew County) Council members to (pay the entire sum),” Brown said. “I pleaded my case to the council. ... I don’t want to belabor the point.”
The mayor appeared before the County Council on Tuesday, claiming that city residents — who are also county residents — were unfairly getting double-charged for ambulance services. This year, the city pays 75 percent of the entire contract.
She had asked that the county budget cover the entire cost of the city’s new ambulance contract, approved in August, which calls for a $300,000 payment to Columbus Regional next year and no payment in subsequent years.
Brown said some county officials initially seemed open to the county paying for the entire amount. But after Tuesday night’s County Council meeting, Brown left realizing that would not be the case.
County Council member Evelyn Pence was pleased by the news and said the city paying half is reasonable.
“I think this will give each, the city and county, a sense of ownership in the process. I’m glad they put in their part,” she said.
Although the city and county will pay for emergency ambulance service next year, they are getting the service at a greatly reduced rate. Combined, the two governmental entities are paying about $950,000 this year. The city’s portion alone is about $715,000.
And, Brown noted, the city is getting:
Essentially the same level of service.
Its desired changes in the placement of ambulances around the city.
More advanced life-support ambulances available during the day, when ambulance service tends to be busiest.
“It’s still a significant win for the taxpayers,” Brown said.
The mayor also asked the County Council at its meeting Tuesday to fund two other countywide services, the 911 Emergency Operations Center and the maintenance of stream gauges used to monitor the possible flooding in northern Bartholomew County.
When the mayor earlier said she wasn’t aware that the county wanted Columbus to evenly split the $14,300 cost of stream-gauge maintenance, Columbus Regional Hospital agreed to pay what would have been the city’s share.
Brown said Friday that because the County Council showed no support for changing the payment splits for the stream gauges and 911 service, the city would “pay what we need to fund our public services.”
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