Vicksburg officials look at raising ambulance rates

Published 4:19 pm Tuesday, May 10, 2022

Citing the increasing cost of operating the city’s ambulance service, Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. has appointed a committee to develop an interlocal agreement with the Warren County Board of Supervisors concerning the cost of providing ambulance service in the city and county.

Flaggs appointed the committee of Fire Chief Craig Danczyk, Deputy Chiefs Derrick Stamps and Trey Martin, City Attorney Kim Nailor and City Finance and Accounting Director Doug Whittington to work out the costs and the agreement and make a recommendation to Flaggs by Aug. 1.

The city and county boards each begin budget discussions in August and must have a budget in place by Sept. 15.

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Ambulance and rescue services are performed by the Vicksburg Fire Department, which has provided ambulance service since 1969.

The last interlocal agreement on ambulance service between the city and county was approved in 2018 and ran through 2020.

Under the agreement, the county pays $280,000 a year for emergency services such as the Vicksburg Fire Department’s rescue service, hazardous materials response and dive team to help cover the costs of providing the services outside the city limits. The $280,000 is paid quarterly with the ambulance bills.

The fee for ambulance service is $400.

“The runs are costing us — gas prices —and we are being asked to provide services that are costing us, like picking up at nursing homes (for transfers to doctors or hospitals),” Flaggs said after the meeting. “What I really want to do is give the Board of Supervisors time to start (working on its budget). We did not work on an agreement with the last administration.

“We want them to know as they prepare their budget to anticipate a cost increase,” he said.

Flaggs said he has not talked with any Warren County Supervisors about the possible service charge increase, but Danczyk had. Danczyk said he has briefly discussed a potential increase with District 1 Supervisor Ed Herring, who represents the Supervisors on the E911 Board.

“I just want to put it (the potential increase) out there for the public to know that it is costing us more,” Flaggs said.

“We haven’t increased billing in over five years and we all know everything has gone (up) tremendously (in price) over the last three years; these are just factors that increase operating costs,” Danczyk said.

He said the cost of some items used on the ambulance has gone up “100 to 300 percent.” Also, he said, the cost of gasoline and vehicles have gone up and some vendors have placed restrictions on buying some items in bulk.

The city’s new ambulances, he said, cost close to $500,000.

“What we hope to do is come together and make some subtle adjustments to try and get it (fees) to a current model. I think it will be good enough,” Danczyk said. “We’re just having initial phases of coming up with a proposal.”

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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