Draft agreements for ambulance service

The process aimed at sustainable and more equitable funding for the Three Rivers Fire Department (TRFD) Ambulance Service continued to move forward Thursday evening (July 26) with the latest ‘Community Development Meeting’ (CDM) of officials from the City of Three Rivers and Fabius, Lockport and Park townships.

City officials presented draft agreements between the city and each of the townships to continue the ambulance service, but to gradually increase the subsidy amounts paid by the townships over a five-year period.

The agreements reflect language that has been in place since 1996 as well as the larger subsidy amounts discussed in recent months as a way to narrow the gap between the financial support for the ambulance service paid by city residents and that rendered by the townships. They were drafted to incorporate the longer five-year period requested by the townships in response to the city’s original proposal to implement the increases over a three-year period.

The meeting also included review and discussion of a handout from Fire Chief Dan Tomlinson entitled Cost to Community – Ambulance Service – SAAC vs.TRFD Cost Assumptions – 2010. The report was prepared in response to a July 13th e-mail message from Constantine Township Supervisor Jaime Hutson to a number of officials around St. Joseph County in which he suggested that ambulance service be discussed on a county level. Hutson said, “I see the City of Three Rivers and the surrounding Townships are moving forward with 5 year subsidy contracts for ambulance service. The rest of the county is serviced by LifeCare Ambulance Service.” And he said, “Now is the time to step forward if we wish to address the ambulance subsidy issue on a County level.”

In reviewing his handout and its comparisons, Tomlinson said, “LifeCare has openly said, if they had a larger service area, they could do it cheaper. They already have the larger service area and they’re not doing it cheaper.”

City Manager Joe Bippus asked township representatives to take the draft agreements back to their respective boards and Mayor Tom Lowry said, “Have your attorney look at it, make sure it’s kosher.”

The next Community Development Meeting was set for Thursday, August 23, at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

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