BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – Lee County Supervisors Chairman Ron Fedler said Tuesday there is room in a tentative deal for ambulance service, for the county to take over within the next fiscal year.
Fedler told the board at Tuesday’s regular meeting that a new contract has been agreed to in principal, but the investor group that owns Lee County EMS Ambulance Inc., still has to approve the proposed contract.
A group consisting of Fedler, Supervisor Rick Larkin, Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise, Lee County Budget Director Cindy Renstrom, Lee County Attorney Ross Braden, and Bill Young of Lee County EMS, met Monday to hash out the details of a one-year extension starting July 1.
“It was a very, very good meeting. There was no controversy,” Fedler said. “Bill has to bring it to his board of investors for approval. Barring any problems we should have a contract for the board very shortly.”
Fedler said the contract would pay the service $75,000 a month with language that would allow the county to take over during the contract or when it expires on June 30, 2021.
Supervisor Gary Folluo asked what Fedler meant by “taking over”.
Fedler said language in the proposal would allow the county to, at some point, take over the service and make it a Lee County-run service. He said the contract pays Lee County EMS monthly so if the county took over in six months, the ambulance service would only get funding through that point.
“That’s a proposal in the contract,” Fedler said. “It also said if that would happen at the end of December, which would be six months, the amount we agreed to – they would just get half of that.”
Fedler said he was very pleased with the cooperation between all the parties and said not having to renegotiate contracts yearly will help solidify the service for the county. He also told the board that Lee County EMS Ambulance is confident they can provide the service for the entire year if the county needs it.
Supervisor Rich Harlow said he’d read in local news outlets that Keokuk Fire Department was still looking into possibly providing transfer service.
Fedler said he believed that one service in the county was the best option for residents, but he couldn’t do anything about what the cities were planning.
Fort Madison Fire Chief Joey Herren told Fort Madison’s City Council two weeks ago, that he wants to continue to look at options for a city run service, with the unknown status of the county service going forward and considering what the legislature is going to do with possibly making ambulance services legally essential in the state. That move would open up taxing districts to put up a levy to pay for the service.
Fort Madison, did however, back off a move in May to rezone space behind the fire department for private investment on property that would have provided space for equipment as well as living quarters for ambulance personnel on duty.
“I can’t control what the cities do and they have a right to do that,” Fedler said. “But I think it would be to everyone’s benefit to have one ambulance service for the county.”
Fedler said he would like to get a copy of the contract in the hands of the other four supervisors before the next meeting so they have time to go over the details before putting it up for a vote. He said the deal is “eight or nine pages” long.
In other action, the board:
• approved 4-0 to approve a contract to repair two bridges in the county for a total of $390,668. The project consists of a repair and overlay on the J50 bridge over Lost Creek in Green Bay Township, and the J72 bridge over Sugar Creek in Des Moines Township.
• approved a resolution for two-years of tax abatements in support of a housing development application by to L and W Land Development for Meadow Brook Condominiums near West Point.