City, county both on board for ambulance agreements

Published 11:08 pm Friday, September 25, 2015

Barring rejection by the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office, the Vicksburg Fire Department will continue providing ambulance service for Warren County residents.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen Friday passed a resolution approving an interlocal agreement with the county to provide ambulance service outside the city limits. The Warren County Board of Supervisors approved a similar resolution Thursday. Under state law, the attorney general must approve the agreement before it can be implemented.

“I appreciate the city working with us,” Board of Supervisors President Bill Lauderdale said. “They have an excellent ambulance systems, and I appreciate them sharing it with us.”

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Under the one-year contract that becomes effective Thursday, the county will reimburse the city $300 per emergency call dispatched to the county except for calls originating from River Region Medical Center, and will be billed quarterly for ambulance service beginning Jan. 30. The contract expires Sept. 30, 2016.

The county had been paying $145 per run under a series of annual contracts since 2006. The boards are expected to negotiate a new and possibly a long-term ambulance service contract after the first of the year.

The board’s approval came moments after learning the total fees paid by the county for ambulance service were $60,000 less than projected, and revenue from the fees assessed patients for ambulance service total $350,000 under budget for fiscal 2015. The fiscal year ends Wednesday.

Mayor George Flaggs Jr., who pushed to have the county pay $350 per run under the new contract, said the budget shortfalls show need for the county to pay more for ambulance service.

“That’s a loss in our projected revenues. I think that’s going to be important going forward in as much as we’ve got to negotiate ambulance service next year,” Flaggs said. “As I’ve said before, Vicksburg residents pay twice; they pay city and county taxes … and we’re in the hole $350,000 providing a service. There’s a correlation between revenue and what you can support.”

North Ward Alderman Michael Mayfield said the city and county will have to begin negotiations on a new ambulance contract no later than July. He later said the supervisors might need more time than that to study a new agreement.

“I would say three to four months is what they need,” he said. “We need to be ready and have something to them say, late, late June, and have it nailed down. We don’t want to get caught again wrestling over this. It’s up to us to make sure they get it.”

“It’s up to them,” Flaggs said. “They want to use the service, and they want to get a one-year contract. If they don’t come before that day, they won’t have service. If they wait until Oct. 1, 2016, they’re in trouble.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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