County supervisors, city ink new ambulance deal

Published 10:37 am Friday, September 25, 2015

The Vicksburg Fire Department’s ambulances will continue making runs in the county under an interlocal agreement with the city approved Thursday by the Warren County Board of Supervisors.

Under the one-year agreement, the county will pay the city $300 per ambulance run into the county.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen is expected to approve the agreement when it meets Friday, Board of Supervisors President Bill Lauderdale said.

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Until Thursday, the city had been providing ambulance service for the county for $145 per run for a nine-year period from 2006 to 2015.

Before 2006, county administrator John Smith said, the county had paid the city $300 per run.

He said the amount was reduced after an audit of the service indicated the county had been paying too much, and the total was reduced to $145.

That agreement expired this year.

“It’s been year-to-year,” Lauderdale said of the ambulance agreement.

“It would be nice to have one of four or five years that we could agree on, that would make it a whole lot easier. In all my tenure, this has probably been the most controversial agreement between the city and the county.”

Lauderdale commended city officials for working with the board to develop the new service agreement.

“It was our fault we were down to the wire on it, and they helped us out; they worked well with us,” he said.

He said city officials offered a long-term, five-year agreement at $350 per run, but the supervisors did not have enough time to study the proposal.

“It’s not their (the city’s) fault,” he said. “We dropped the ball. I hope maybe before the end of my term we will be able to sit back down and do some sort of long-range thing. I think that would be real good for the city and the county as far as budget planning. It’s a matter hammering out the details of it. I don’t think our guys mind paying their fair share, because it is an excellent service.”

Smith said those talks will happen after Lauderdale, who is not seeking re-election, leaves.

“After the new year, the city representatives and county will have to sit down and work out a long-term deal,” he said.

And the county could possibly pay more for emergency medical.

Flaggs said the $300 doesn’t cover the full cost of providing emergency medical service to the county.

“I just think there’s going to have to be some serious negotiations in the future, because the city cannot stand to lose $1 million (per year) to provide the service,” he said.

“It’s costing us more to provide the service. In my opinion, it’s unfair to the taxpayers, because they pay taxes twice (city and county). I’m for providing the best quality service, but at the least cost to the taxpayers.”

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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