Morgan County adopts yearly $75 ambulance service fee

June 15, 2007|By TRISH RUDDER

BERKELEY SPRINGS, W.Va. - A yearly $75 emergency ambulance service fee for Morgan County was adopted Friday by the Morgan County Commission.

The fee will go into effect July 1.

John Corson, executive officer of the Morgan County Rescue Squad, said the fee would pay for needed equipment, provide benefits for full-time employees and give pay increases to paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

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

Vicki Hott, the squad's accountant, said the fee was reduced from a proposal of $85 to $75, which is based on 80 percent of the fees being collected.

Hott said the money will fund two full-time crews, create a fund to replace an ambulance every two years and provide funding for day-to-day operations.


Corson said last year's operating budget was about $526,000, and that would increase to about $934,000 with the new fee.

The rescue service has been operating on donations and grants along with insurance reimbursement money. Donations have decreased and federal and state grant money has been substantially reduced since Sept. 11, Corson had said.

A public hearing was held before the commission voted to enact the fee.

Public comments were made that the proposed fee was too high, and some wanted the commission to reduce it to $25.

"Twenty-five dollars won't do it, (and) $50 won't do it," Commission President Glen R. Stotler said. "If we don't do $75, it won't fix the problem. I think they are at the bottom line and that's based on collecting 80 percent (of the fees)."

Stotler said the original request from the rescue squad was $125 per year, but the commission felt that was too high. At the last commission meeting, the fee was $85 and based on 70 percent of fees being collected.

Resident Marvin Miller said older people with fixed incomes will be especially hurt by the fee.

"Now, you're adding another tax," Miller said. "We had a huge assessment increase and a tax to rebuild the courthouse, and now this."

Kevin Duckwall, a paramedic with the rescue squad, said a steady stream of income is needed to keep the rescue squad operational, and the recent $25,000 loan from the Morgan County Commission to keep the squad operational already has been spent.

"We will survive and hold on until the money flow increases," he said.

Commissioner Brenda J. Hutchinson said the county needs to monitor the money collected from the fee will be spent.

"We need to revisit this in a year," Hutchinson said. "I do think we are at a critical point and we need this fee."

Stotler said the new emergency ambulance service fee with go out with tax bills, which are mailed in July.

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