BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
LEE COUNTY – After being delayed for several weeks, an agreement has been reached between Lee County Supervisors and Lee County EMS Ambulance, Inc. for the county to acquire a good chunk of the ambulance services property and equipment.
The regular meeting of the the Lee County Board of Supervisors was moved to Tuesday morning due to Monday’s federal holiday. Supervisors approved the purchase unanimously.
The county is still on track to take over providing ambulance services to Lee County residents starting July 1.
The purchase of six ambulances and a command vehicle have already been approved, as well as the hiring of Cosby and Jason Dinwiddie to run the new service, all under the direction of an advisory board assembled in 2020 to oversee the transition.
After having the private ambulance service’s facilities and equipment appraised, and following negotiations between the ownership family and the county’s ambulance director Dennis Cosby, a price was reached at $442,500.
Cosby said after having the assets appraised, he believes the price is fair.
“Looking at all the equipment and going through everything and talking to the companies that manufacture these things, I think we’re right in line there,” Cosby said.
The acquisition includes just one ambulance out of the fleet, a 2018 model, medical equipment, and three buildings and their contents in Donnellson, Fort Madison and Keokuk.
“Dennis really took care of this and got back to us. I think it’s a fair price for what they have, and in negotiations when you get both sides to agree to something this quickly, you’re probably doing a good job and I would recommend it,” said Supervisor Rick Larkin,
Larkin also sits on the advisory board with Supervisor Garry Seyb, Jr.
Lee County Auditor Denise Fraise said it would be the intention to take the funds out of the county’s general fund.
Fraise also said the county is working with Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission on a grant that could potentially pay for up to 35% of the recent purchase of ambulances. That grant would be a USDA grant that requires a public hearing, which was set for Feb. 22 at 9:10 a.m.
In December the county approved spending just over $1 million on six ambulances and a command vehicle.
Supervisor Matt Pflug said a bill to have ambulance services declared essential services under state code made it out of a state ways and means committee last week. The bill could open up state ambulance services to additional public revenue streams.
In a related issue, supervisors also approved a motion to hold a public hearing for a maximum tax levy with a 2% increase in property tax dollars, which is the limit the state will allow without a supermajority vote, or four of five supervisors.
The county had a 2% increase in the last fiscal year, but this year will be adding an entire new ambulance division to the county budget, all while holding to the 2% overall increase.
Fraise said the advisory board has high hopes that the ambulance service will be a wash for the county.
In other action, supervisors:
• approved a 28E agreement with Jefferson County for Environmental Health Services Coverage.
• approved the purchase of grader for Secondary Roads
• approved the final reading of an ordinance creating a nine-member Pioneer Cemetery board.