Ashley County Quorum Court’s justices contended last week that they could not approve an ambulance proposal from the City of Hamburg without more information. They also said they could not vote to modify a previously approved ultimatum about dispatching services the county provides for Hamburg.
For the last several months the two governments have disagreed regarding the amount owed for the services. The county’s budget committee has said the past due balance is around $98,000.
The committee previously said the issue would be tabled to look at legal options but presented a contract to cover services from Jan. 1, 2019 forward.
That contract was presented to Hamburg Mayor Dane Weindorf with a June 1 deadline. County Judge Jim Hudson reported that the mayor asked for an extension until July 1 after Hamburg city council met May 28.
Members of the quorum court said that because the item was not on the agenda they could not vote for changes and that Hamburg would need to call a special meeting to make the deadline.
Meanwhile, the Hamburg city council voted in April to request the county pay $3,000 per month toward ambulance service provided outside the city limits.
Weindorf said Pro-Med gave the city two different bid totals. One bid was approximately $20,000 per month to offer ambulance service to the City of Hamburg only; the second bid for approximately $23,000 per month included serving areas outside of the city limits.
Since the start of the contract, Hamburg has been paying the full contract amount including the additional $3,000 for the county service.
At the quorum court meeting, Hudson presented the proposed contract for ambulance service that the Hamburg council had already approved.
“This discussion of the ambulance thing, there is a problem there,” Justice Ronnie Wheeler said. “He can’t come to an agreement with ProMed if he is still getting services from the sheriff’s office.”
Sheriff Tommy Sturgeon said the ambulance service originally planned to dispatch for themselves, but it was his understanding they were having cellular service problems that were preventing them from doing so.
Justice Hiram Taylor said the ambulance issue was never brought up in prior discussions with Hamburg and that taxpayers all over the county are paying the sales tax in Hamburg that funds the ambulance service.
Several justices said there was not enough information for a decision. Justice Jeff Langley said that if half ProMed’s runs were in the county as they had previously stated it would be reasonable to assume they would lose money by not covering the county.
Other justices said the numbers seemed high compared to numbers they received when the county sought bids for county-wide ambulance services.
Wheeler said he believed the higher cost was because contract was for a higher cost ambulance than what the county was originally looking at. Hamburg’s bids sought two Advanced Life Support ambulances instead of the one the county had requested in its solicitations.
The justices scheduled a special meeting for 2:30 p.m. May 24.