Friday, May 23, 2008

Ambulance plan is ‘sales pitch’

Voters of the valley will be presented a question of whether to provide another $350,000 annually to the Ambulance District. The city of Ketchum jumped on board quickly, as expected. You see, they receive over half of all Ambulance District monies as a contractor to run the Ketchum district. Wood River Fire is anticipating the other half of receipts, to run the south half of the district.

Some good people have told voters that an ambulance now costs $125,000. Very true. But it is also true that likely $6 billion to $7 billion of increased valuation has been added to the rolls since the district was begun. The vehicles last 10 years. This increase alone would buy 28 new ambulances. In 10 years, you are being asked to provide an additional $3.5 million to the two contractors, Ketchum and Wood River Fire. In that same 10 years, they will also collect $11,256,000 plus the automatic 3 percent added annually.

The majority of people have no idea how the district is run. Here's an overview: The city of Ketchum and the Wood River Fire representatives sit before the County Commission and provide figures that show where they spent their funds the previous year. Then they add the thousands for the new expenditures they would like to have for the coming year. All salaries and related expenses of both fire departments remotely connected to the ambulance district are added in. Then the Ambulance District is expected to pay 50-60 percent of these joint expenses.

Safety isn't the question but that's how you are being sold the idea. Fear. Always the reliable sales tool. Go ahead and buy that sales pitch but I think I'll pass this time. The real problem is that longstanding one of funding five fire departments in this county, all of which show up at the same fires.

Dennis Wright


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