Parkway Regional’s ambulance proposal gains support in SF

Parkway Regional’s ambulance proposal gains support in SF
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
South Fulton is on board.
A revised proposal to keep the Twin City Ambulance Service operational was accepted Tuesday evening by the South Fulton City Commission.
Under the proposal, Park-way Regional Hospital in Fulton would assume control of the financially-distressed ambulance service on Jan. 1, 2012.
The future of the Twin City Ambulance Service was in question, since it was recently revealed the ambulance service had reached a critical point in its financial condition. TCAS revenues are derived from EMS billing and membership fees, but participation in a voluntary subscription membership program had steadily declined.
In the past, because revenues collected did not cover operational costs, the City of Fulton subsidized a significant amount of expenses on behalf of the ambulance service. On Aug. 22, the Fulton City Commission authorized Fulton’s city manager to enter into negotiations with TCAS partnerships to obtain additional funding to support the service.
If no agreement was reached, additional funding previously provided by the City of Fulton was to cease Tuesday — launching a diligent search for funding solutions prior to the deadline.
Numerous meetings were held by both the ambulance board and an ad hoc committee of city officials formed following a town hall meeting Sept. 27 in Fulton. The governing bodies of Fulton, South Fulton, Hickman, Ky., and Fulton County, Ky., also held several meetings and pledged support for the Twin Cities area’s ambulance service.
On Oct. 22, Parkway Regional Hospital submitted an initial lease proposal for taking over the ambulance service, but South Fulton officials expressed concern about a proposed subsidy split and whether it was fair to South Fulton since the city’s response and ambulance pick-up rates are lower than those of the other entities.
A revised three-year proposal — with an annual subsidy based on ambulance usage the second and third years — was submitted to the ambulance board Nov. 11 by Parkway Regional Hospital.
The proposal asks for financial commitments from Fulton, South Fulton, Hickman and Fulton County for a $363,000 ongoing annual subsidy equal to the 2010-11 membership fees, with an adjustment for $16,000 in ambulance maintenance costs, bringing the annual total to $379,000.
It was initially proposed that the subsidy be split equally four ways — or $7,895.83 per month ($94,750 annually) from each of the four entities. The revised proposal has the same 25 percent split for the first year, but then offers a subsidy option for the second and third years based half on risk, a result of population figures, and half on run rates, a result of actual calls, for the four entities.
Risk is calculated at the 25 percent rate and an example based on run rates suggests splits of 29.5 percent each for Fulton and Fulton County, 22 percent for Hickman and 19 percent for South Fulton — but the proposal indicates the hospital would audit the run rate at the end of years one and two.
Calculated with the risk and run rate example amounts, for the second and third years, Fulton and Fulton County would each subsidize $103,278 annually (or $8,606.46 per month), while Hickman would pay $89,065 annually ($7,422.08 per month) and South Fulton would provide $83,380 annually ($6,948.33 per month).
The revised proposal had already drawn support from Fulton, Hickman and Fulton County, and the South Fulton City Commission was slated to act on the proposal at its monthly session last Thursday evening. However, the session never officially convened due to the absence of both Mayor David Crocker and Vice Mayor Charles Moody.
Tuesday’s action
South Fulton’s meeting was rescheduled for Tuesday evening. Crocker and commissioners Jeff Vowell and Thomas Pettigrew were in attendance, with both Moody and commissioner Tony Perry absent.
Commissioners heard a brief synopsis of the proposal from South Fulton city manager Debra Craig and Vowell then made a motion to accept the revised proposal. It was approved by a 3-0 vote.
In a related matter, the ambulance board recommended each of the four entities contribute $20,000 for a 40-day period — from Tuesday’s deadline through Dec. 31 — to cover operating expenses for the period before Parkway Regional Hospital takes over the service. Mrs. Craig explained it would be broken down by contributing $5,000 immediately and an additional $15,000 by Dec. 12.
Vowell made the motion to pay the requested funds and his motion was seconded by Pettigrew, prompting some discussion after Crocker questioned what source South Fulton would use for the funds and it was noted that Hickman officials had opted out of the request.
Mrs. Craig explained two months’ of ambulance fee collections from South Fulton would be about $14,000 and the remainder would come from the General Fund.
It was also noted that Hickman would continue to collect the voluntary ambulance fees from its utility customers during that period.
The 40-day funding request was approved by a vote of 2-1, with Crocker voting against it.
In a related matter across the state line in Kentucky, the Fulton City Commission also met in called session Tuesday evening and heard concerns about the future of the Fulton Fire Department, the other half of the Twin City Ambulance Service.
Currently, 14 of the ambulance service’s 17 paramedics and emergency medical technicians also serve the Fulton Fire Department.
A hospital spokesman has indicated to news media that all of the Twin City employees will be given an opportunity to reapply for their jobs.
There apparently remains a question about the number of personnel and the financial support the City of Fulton will be able to give to the Fulton Fire Department.
Other action
In other action during Tuesday evening’s South Fulton City Commission meeting, which was opened with the Pledge of Allegiance and prayer led by Crocker, commissioners:
• Approved a request from the South Fulton Public Works Department for a water line repair on East State Line in front of the railroad tracks. The repairs were already made.
• Tabled action on a policy and agreement form for utility line work on private property, also a public works item, as recommended by the Municipal Technical Advisory Service.
• Tabled action on a computer maintenance agreement for the city’s computers, as Mrs. Craig seeks more estimates. One estimated was already given.
• Noted the issuance of a proclamation for National American Indian Heritage Month.
• Learned from Mrs. Craig that an inspection was recently made of Harris Creek and city officials are still working to have some dilapidated properties on East State Line cleared.
Staff Reporter Chris Menees may be contacted by email at cmenees@ucmessenger.com. Published in The Messenger 11.23.11

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