Ambulance rates raised in council first reading


The Miles City Council voted 6-2 to increase ambulance rates last week. Ordinance No. 1265 will now go to the Finance Committee before it comes before the council a second time.

Council members Jerry Partridge and Roxanna Brush voted against the ordinance when it came up on April 8.

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. If this ordinance is passed, 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 ambulance is an enterprise fund designed to fund itself through user fees, but it has been in the red often. 

Tuesday morning Fire Chief Dale Berg said the last time the rates were raised was 2005, and that increase was “pretty minimal.”

Each year the cost of ambulance supplies increases.

Berg said private insurance usually pays about 85-90 percent, and the rest is paid by the patient out of pocket. 

He expects reimbursement from Medicare to remain the same.

The state average for calls billed to Medicare is 15 percent, and for Miles City it’s 47 percent, he estimated at the meeting.

Berg said, “We’re probably in the middle of the high side - if we go with these rates - of what everyone else is charging across the state.”

He said no two places charge the same.

In other news:

— Brad Certain was appointed to the planning board.

— The council approved the July 4 celebrations in Riverside Park.

— Grenz declared April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. 

In reading the proclamation, he said sexual violence is widespread and, according to statistics, one in five women in our community will have experienced sexual assault by the time they complete college. 

Custer Network Against Domestic Abuse and Sexual Assault, as well as other groups, is committed to preventing sexual violence by promoting prevention awareness campaigns, educating the community and advocating for victim’s rights. 

It is through prevention education, increased awareness and holding perpetrators responsible that sexual violence can be reduced. 

— Bids were opened for a sewer camera, and all the bids came in below the $85,000 budgeted for the purchase. Neverest bid $60,250, Titan Machinery bid $62,876 and Utility Specialties bid $44,280. 

The bids go to the Finance Committee to make sure they meet the minimum requirements. 

— Resolution No. 3673 was unanimously passed, which would clarify what the boundaries are in the Industrial Site. 

City Attorney Dan Rice explained that currently it is difficult to determine where the boundaries are, and there is just one map of the properties, at City Hall. 

“We don’t have metes and bounds descriptions for the lots. This is a pretty rough map,” he said. “This will give a rough idea of where the city-owned leaseholds are located.” 

The Industrial Site has never been formally subdivided and there is no survey of record. The title companies would like to see a document of record which identifies the approximate location of the leaseholds within the site.

— A request to install a 4-inch fire line and 2-inch water service line in a city right-of-way on Tompy Street and South Haynes Avenue was sent to the Public Services Committee to look into it further.

The request was made for the Magic Diamond Casino, which is building an addition. 

— The council unanimously passed Resolution No. 3675, authorizing the city to enter into a $15,000 Community Development Block Grant contract with the Montana Department of Commerce to help pay for a feasibility study for floodplain mitigation alternatives.