County lowers subsidy to ambulance service

SHERIDAN — Sheridan County Commissioners approved a revised year-long agreement with Rocky Mountain Ambulance Service to continue providing emergency medical services to Sheridan County at their meeting Tuesday.

The revised agreement decreased the subsidy amount the county will pay by $5,000. Sheridan County will pay RMA $175,000 to provide services to all county residents between July 1, 2013, and June 30, 2014, County Administrative Director Renee Obermueller said.

“There’s no specific reason (for decreasing the subsidy) other than I’m not sure that we’re all at a point where we’re comfortable with the contribution,” Obermueller said about the county’s decreased subsidy amount.

“We recognize that they are a private enterprise, and we want to support that, so it’s very difficult to determine that fine line, but I believe not only does the county want to see that be reduced but so does Rocky Mountain,” she added. “They don’t want their business dependent on the city and the county.”

The agreement was also revised to reflect a change in how many ambulances RMA leases from the county, Obermueller said.

Prior agreements allowed the county to lease three ambulances for $1 per year to RMA.

In the last year, one of those three ambulances was given to the Goose Valley Volunteer Fire Department, so RMA now leases two ambulances from the county.

The ambulance was given to Goose Valley to provide better coverage in the county, Obermueller said.

During the meeting, Obermueller noted that the city and county have asked RMA to look at ways to improve its business plan so it doesn’t have to depend so much on government subsidy. In the last year, RMA has started to charge a fee for being at sporting events such as rodeos and football games.

“Rather than the county and the city subsidizing those events, because that’s basically what we’re doing, it was time for each entity to be responsible for their own ambulance if they need it,” Obermueller said.

Rocky Mountain Ambulance will be responsible for negotiating contracts — including whether or not they can leave the event to cover another emergency — with each entity.

Obermueller said RMA struggles with losing money partly due to charity care, or providing services to those who cannot pay for them. The ambulance service currently has approximately 180 past-due payments and writes off a substantial amount each year.

Sheridan Police Chief Rich Adriaens, who manages emergency services for the city, said the city has had no similar discussion about its contract with Rocky Mountain Ambulance. It is a self-renewing contract that will only expire if either party gives 90 days notice prior to June 1 of each year, Adriaens said.

The city also leases two ambulances to RMA, a front line ambulance for $700 per year and a second line ambulance for $300 per year.

Adriaens said the city has spoken with the company about alternative revenue opportunities such as charging for standby service at events and increasing non-emergency transports.

Rocky Mountain Ambulance currently has six ambulances, four that are Advanced Life Support equipped. It purchased two ambulances of its own in the last two years. Other ambulances in the county include one at Goose Valley Fire Department, one in Dayton, one at Burgess Junction and two operated by Sheridan Fire-Rescue Department, Adriaens said.

In other business:

• County commissioners approved a five-year permit for the 10-acre Fox Quarry on Swaim Road and a 20-year permit for the 65-acre Ankney Decker Quarry located on Decker Road. Crushing at the Ankney Decker Quarry will be allowed for an initial 30-day consecutive period.

• Commissioners agreed to extend the termination and dissolution of the Lake DeSmet County Coalitions board to Dec. 1, 2013, allow Johnson County additional time to enter into a lease agreement with the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission.

 

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Hannah Wiest is the government and outdoors reporter for The Sheridan Press. She has lived in Colorado and Montana but loves her sunny home state of Wyoming best. She joined The Press staff in February 2013.

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