Ambulance rates were increased after Mayor Butch Grenz broke a tie vote at Tuesday’s Miles City Council meeting.
Before breaking the tie, he jokingly asked if he could abstain from voting as he reluctantly passed Ordinance No. 1265.
The ordinance would raise the rates by basically 10 percent at first, then by 2 percent each year for the next three years.
For example, the current charge for a basic life support call is $589. Under this ordinance, it will go up to $648, until July 1, 2015, when it will be $660.96. A year later it will increase to $674.18, and to $687.66 the following year (2017).
The rates were last increased in 2005.
Council members Susanne Galbraith, Ken Gardner and Sheena Martin voted in favor of the increase, and Jerry Partridge, Mark Ahner and Roxanna Brush voted against it.
Partridge feared increasing the rates would only increase the number of people who couldn’t pay their bills.
Brush said she was voting no for the same reason.
Galbraith said that while Medicare/Medicaid won’t increase what they’ll pay, many private insurance companies will, adding that the action was encouraged by last year’s auditors.
“Right now the ambulance is a bottomless pit and we have to do something to mitigate the damage. We can’t just keep going in the red,” she said.
She said the move is estimated to bring in an additional $75,000.
In other news:
— Sheila Newman was appointed to the Library Board.
— Mayor Butch Grenz read two proclamations. One was to proclaim May as Building Safety Month and the other was to make May 6 Arbor Day.
— Flood Awareness Day is April 29 from 9 a.m. to noon at the Town and Country Club. The public awareness event helps reduce flood insurance rates. Public Works Director Scott Gray said he believed the city is on schedule to drop to the next level this summer (from a rating of 8 to 7). He said a rating of 5 “would be really good. It takes some time to get there.”
— Brush said that rumors that the planning office is taking three to four months to approve building permits are “just not true.”
Grenz said it wasn’t close to being accurate.
— Brush thanked the city for putting up barriers in the Milwaukee Park to make it safer, and she thanked those involved with the Eagle Cam. “It’s way cool,” she said.
— There were no public comments concerning the increase of ambulance rates.
— Bids were opened for the janitorial contracts for cleaning City Hall, the city shops, the police department and the library.
Dale Cleaning Service bid $600 a month for City Hall, $300 a month for the city shops, $425 for the library and $400 for the police station.
Marilynn Forman bid $350 for the police station and $225 for the city shops.
The Finance Committee will review the bids.
— The council unanimously passed Resolution No. 3674, approving the installation of water service lines in the right of way area north of Tompy Street (between Doeden Street and South Haynes Avenue). The lines are going in to prepare for an addition to be built at the Magic Diamond Casino.
— Resolution No. 3676 was unanimously passed to contract with Zeier Consulting to look into the feasibility of creating a tax increment financing district for an urban renewal district.
The contract will not exceed $24,876.
— Resolution No. 3677 was passed unanimously. It approves an increase, from $20,000 to $32,000, in funding for a land planning services contract between the city and Land Solutions.
— Ordinance No. 1266 bypasses a committee review upon the first reading of an ordinance if it already was reviewed by the committee. It passed unanimously.
— The council unanimously approved adopting new subdivision regulations, so they will meet state mandates, by passing Ordinance No. 1267.
— Southgate Meadows zoning request was tabled because the council felt they needed more information on Ordinance No. 1268. The ordinance would change the zoning of Block 5 of Southgate from local commercial to general commercial and provide a hearing for it.
Block 5 is south of Horizon Parkway.
The Zoning Commission recommended the zone change to be approved with the condition that a second access into Southgate be seriously looked at by either residents, the city, state or developers to help alleviate the issue for the lack of a second exit.