Wednesday, September 4, 2013

County to delay ambulance purchase

Commissioners approve $2.28 million Ambulance District budget

Express Staff Writer

    Due to the sale of the Hall-Mark Fire Apparatus company, Blaine County will not be receiving a new ambulance this year, as was expected.
    Ketchum Fire Chief Mike Elle conveyed that information to county commissioners while they were convened as the Blaine County Ambulance District on Tuesday. The commissioners unanimously approved a fiscal year 2014 Ambulance District budget of $2,279,892.
    In an interview, Elle said the new ambulance would replace a 1997 Chevrolet stationed at the Greenhorn Fire Station that’s been having mechanical problems. He said the county has seven ambulances—three with the Ketchum Fire Department, three with Wood River Fire & Rescue and one with the Carey Fire Department.
    Elle told the commissioners that an order for the new $160,000 ambulance was placed early this year, but was disrupted when the manufacturer was sold to another company. He said the local fire chiefs rejected the vehicle that was offered them.
    “It didn’t meet our specs in any way, shape or form,” he said.
    Elle said the new parent company, Wheeled Coach, told the fire chiefs that it couldn’t afford to make the requested changes.
    Elle said postponing the purchase until next year will cost an additional $10,000-$12,000 due to more stringent vehicle standards set by the National Fire Protection Association. However, he said, it will also result in a safer ambulance.
    Wood River Fire & Rescue Chief Bart Lassman told the commissioners that during the Beaver Creek Fire, local emergency services providers did not lose any ability to respond to medical emergencies. Elle said the working relationship between Ketchum and Wood River is “stronger than ever.”
Greg Moore:

Commissioners pass
$25.2 million county budget
With little discussion Tuesday, Blaine County commissioners unanimously passed a fiscal year 2014 budget of $25,224,474. The budget was unchanged from a tentative budget approved last week.
“I think we have a good budget before us,” Commissioner Angenie McCleary said. “We’ve looked at expenses and revenues very carefully and made sure that they’re in line with county priorities.”
Commissioner Jacob Greenberg said the only line item that he disagreed with was $12,381 for commissioners’ salary increases. During a meeting on Aug. 27, Greenberg advocated postponing a salary increase due to the economic impact on county residents from the Beaver Creek Fire.
Commissioner Larry Schoen said there may be unbudgeted costs to the county government from the fire, some of which could be paid this year and some in fiscal 2014.
“We just don’t know what these are yet, but they’ll be managed by budget adjustments,” he said.

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