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Texas city to halt ambulance service to county over money dispute

The city is looking for nearly double the subsidy for its ambulance service; the county won't pay the increase

By Bob Belcher
The Corsicana Daily Sun

CORSICANA, Texas — The City of Corsicana has notified Navarro County officials it is cancelling its agreement with the county to provide EMS ambulance service to areas outside the city limits.

According to a letter sent to county officials by Corsicana Mayor Chuck McClanahan, ambulance service to county residents will end on Jan. 31, 2015.

The move comes in response to the county commissioners informing city officials they would not pay an increased subsidy requested by the city.

"The City Council can no longer continue to provide services for the current contributions," McClanahan wrote in a letter to county leaders.

The city requested a subsidy of $450,000 for the budget year beginning Oct. 1. County officials, in a letter to the city on Tuesday, said it planned to continue to fund several services provided to county residents at the same rates as the current budget, which currently has the county paying an ambulance subsidy of $275,000.

McClanahan also said in the letter county residents will have to start paying to use the city library and animal shelter, since county officials said they wouldn't agree to increased fees for those services either. McClanahan said rates for the services would be determined by the city council and go into effect on Oct. 1, 2014. That is the date the new budget year begins for both entities.

County Judge H.M. Davenport Jr. said county commissioners have seen the letter from McClanahan, but as of Thursday had not discussed what will happen next.

"As of right now there is no decision one way or the other," Davenport said. He said options open to the county include contracting with another ambulance company to provide service to county residents.

"East Texas Medical Service does it, there are other ambulance services that are looking to expand in other areas," he said. "We will likely visit with those folks and get some input from them on what they could come in and do it for before we re-address the concerns the city had."

Davenport said that talks with the city would continue.

"The lines of communication are open. We can still talk about it," Davenport said.

City councilmembers expressed concerns about what the county will do, and about people out in the county getting emergency help.

"I don't want to stop providing service," McClanahan said Thursday afternoon. "But if we want to give the citizens quality services, then we've got to spend money on that."

Corsicana ambulances make about 1,800 runs to county addresses each year, or about one-third of the total calls, according to Fire Chief Donald McMullan.

The ambulance service, which consists of four full-time ambulances and two more in reserve, costs about $5.6 million,and the service brings in $5.2 million. If the countyy does decide not to continue with the city's ambulance service the city will likely cut one of the ambulances, which could mean six positions. The savings would be around $200,000, City Manager Connie Standridge said.

The Corsicana City Council met in a budget workshop on Thursday. County Commissioners are continuing budget workshops this week, with another session scheduled for 9 a. m. Friday.


(c)2014 the Corsicana Daily Sun (Corsicana, Texas)

Distributed by MCT Information Services

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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