County to pay $442K for ambulance property

BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
PCC EDITOR

LEE COUNTY – With a July 1 deadline looming for the county to assume ownership of ambulance services countywide, an agreement has been reached to purchase property and equipment from the current ambulance provider.

On Monday, the Lee County Board of Supervisors approved a purchase price of $442,500 with half of the money due on June 7, 2021 and the second half payable to Lee County EMS Ambulance Inc., on Sept. 27, 2021. The vote was unanimous 4-0 with Ron Fedler absent.

The purchase agreement includes 12 pages of items including facilities in Fort Madison, Donnellson and Keokuk, a 2018 Ford conversion ambulance, all ambulance and medical supplies, and office and facilities supplies.

County Auditor Denise Fraise said the agreement is all inclusive and includes everything down to bandages.

“We modeled it after Washington County and (County Attorney) Ross (Braden) went in and cleaned it all up,” Fraise said.

The payments will become part of a fiscal year 2021 budget amendment.

Budget Director Cindy Renstrom said four departments needed to have amendments including the sheriff’s department for damaged vehicles. The insurance proceeds and a COVID-19 grant are also in the amendment.

“The ambulance service we are going to go ahead and make a payment this year to the Youngs to purchase the buildings and the equipment and we didn’t have that budgeted,” she said.

The auditor’s office saw additional expenses for elections including the special elections, but she said some COVID -related grant funds were also included in that amendment.

The public hearing on that amendment will be May 24 at 9 a.m. Renstrom said that will be the last amendment the county will be allowed to do before June 30.

In an unrelated issue, supervisors also approved an amendment to an agreement with Motorola to usher in the new digital communication systems for county emergency responders.

Lee County Sheriff Stacy Weber said there was some language in the proposal that could have saddled the county with additional costs in years 4-10 of the agreement for maintenance and services.

“There was some penalty for not using some services in years 4-10 and we didn’t feel that was right to have to pay for those services, so we’ve gone back and forth on that and cleaned it up,” Weber said.

“We were trying to make sure down the road we wouldn’t be on the hook for fees or penalties, but Ross weeded it out. I’m glad the legal beagles were on point for us.”

The amended agreement adds a section that allows the county out of the maintenance and support agreements with 180 days written notice, but they can’t get out of the agreement for mere convenience without paying Motorola a portion of the discounted service agreement for those years.

Supervisor Rick Larkin said a fire in Fort Madison again showed how poor communications are with the current system. The fire in the 1200 block of Avenue D had firefighters in the basement and command outside couldn’t communicate inside.

“That’s the whole thing,” Board Chair Matt Pflug said. “These folks can’t talk to each other in dangerous situations.”

Lee County Ambulance Director Dennis Cosby said he responded to the scene as well and he was unable to hear them talking inside the fire to outside the fire.

In other action, the board:
• heard further discussion on displaying an Ameren turbine in Estes Park in Keokuk.
• approved contracts for gravel with Cessford Construction for a combined 115,000 tons at a cost of $1.214 million.
• approved the purchase of 147 metal culverts at a cost of $51,557 from Metal Culverts, Inc of Monmouth, Ill.
• approved the renewal of a 28E agreement with Central Lee Schools for a School Resource Officer.
• approved a motion to become the annual fiscal agent for the Children First, an Early Childhood Iowa program.
• approved a Emergency Medical Services handbook

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