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Morgan Co. considering $85 ambulance fee

June 01, 2007|by TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. A yearly $85 emergency ambulance service fee for each Morgan County household is being considered by the Morgan County Commission and could go into effect July 1.

At Thursday's commission meeting, John Corson, executive officer of the Morgan County Rescue Squad, said better service is needed for the county, including new equipment and another full-time person. He said federal and state grant funding has not been available since Sept. 11, 2001.

Corson said the situation was so critical that the organization was ready to send out the yearly volunteer subscription requests, which would bring in about $20,000, "to keep the doors open."

Commission president Glen Stotler said that would not be recommended and would create problems if the ambulance service fee goes into effect next month. As an alternative, the commissioners unanimously agreed to provide a loan of $25,000 to the Rescue Squad to keep it operational.

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Corson said last year's operating budget was about $526,000, and the budget amount for the next fiscal year would be about $923,000 with the new service fee.

Vickie Hott, the squad's accountant, said the rescue service does receive money from insurance companies but about 70 percent of those in need of ambulance service do not have insurance.

"But we have to respond; it's the law," Corson said.

The increase would pay for needed equipment, provide benefits for the full-time employees and give pay increases to the paramedics and EMTs.

"It's mostly about benefits and equipment," Corson said.

Stotler said according to West Virginia Code, the commission does not need to create an Ambulance Authority, as it is set up in Berkeley County, and the fee is sent out and collected by a separate entity.

He said by law the commission has to provide the services in the county, and "we could make the fee and collect the fee," and it would be part of the yearly tax bill.

A public hearing and a decision to adopt the proposed service fee is scheduled for the next commission meeting on June 15 at 1:30 p.m.

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