BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – With just two weeks left in the current contract, Lee County Supervisors have voted on an extension for ambulance service with Lee County EMS Ambulance Inc.
At Tuesday’s regular meeting of the Lee County Board of Supervisors, supervisors voted unanimously to pay the EMS service $75,000 per month for up to 12 months for a total of $900,000.
The new deal includes liens on all the ambulance service vehicles in the event the company defaults. That would give the county ownership of the property to start their own service should the company default on the agreement.
Lee County Attorney Ross Braden said there were a couple changes from the county’s original proposal. The county originally proposed dispatching take place from the county’s LeeComm dispatch, but that language was removed because of the short timeline for the new contract to begin.
“From what I understand, they were concerned the timetable for PSAP (Public Service Answering Point) to be ready wasn’t realistic, with the potential for additional personnel and possible certification,” Braden said.
“It didn’t sound like they were opposed to, but wanted to continue talks to move in that direction.”
Another change allows the ambulance service to upgrade older vehicles, but the county would still maintain a lien on those upgraded vehicles as well.
“The goal of that was to ensure the county was protected and had at least the vehicles in our possession and control so that way we’re not starting completely from scratch,” Braden said. “We would have those pieces of equipment to move forward.”
The contract also requires an “administrator” which would be a county advisory panel. The group would have to be formalized by July 1.
Fedler said he’d like the committee to be kept to about six people with representatives from Keokuk, Fort Madison, townships, and the medical and financial fields.
The ambulance service would be required to submit monthly financial statements and call reports to the advisory board, as well as quarterly financial statements.
The ambulance service did increase its rates under the agreement and if revenues still fall short of expenses, it can approach the county for additional funds. However, there agreement says the county is not required to backfill any shortfalls in revenues.
Supervisor Chairman Ron Fedler said per his conversation with Director Bill Young, the ambulance service doesn’t anticipate there being a problem with a full year’s service.
“It’s a good contract that protects both parties and if we approve this we will have ambulance service for the next year,” Fedler said “We can start negotiating immediately for the long-term where the county would take over the ambulance service.”
In other action, the board:
• approved a cooperative agreement with Iowa’s Department of Transportation and the City of Fort Madison to construct a slip ramp to allow easier transitioning of Siemens-Gamesa wind blades onto southbound Hwy. 61. Iowa DOT is footing the bill for the construction. Agreements are still being finalized with the city and Lee County Conservation on property issues.
• approved reappointing George Morgan and Linda Sammeli to the Veteran Affairs Board
• discussed a proposal from Motorola to upgrade the county’s emergency radios to digital
• discussed the possibility of an election to create an emergency services levy to provide revenue for a county-owned ambulance service.