Friday, August 2, 2013

County sets $2.3M ambulance budget

Final spending plan must be approved by Sept. 9

Express Staff Writer

    Blaine County commissioners on Tuesday approved a $2.28 million tentative Ambulance District budget for fiscal year 2014. The budget is $67,229 higher than this year’s budget, a 3 percent increase, which is the maximum allowed by state law.
    The district provides ambulance services through the Ketchum and Carey fire departments and Wood River Fire & Rescue.
    Commissioner Larry Schoen said during Tuesday’s meeting at the old Blaine County Courthouse in Hailey that the budget is sufficient to meet the services’ capital needs and to retain good employees.
    Wood River Fire & Rescue Chief Bart Lassman said that even though his agency had been on schedule to buy a new ambulance for 2015, it would wait another year since money for capital outlays was spent this year on new defibrillators. The Ketchum Fire Department will take possession of a new ambulance late this summer.
    In an interview, Lassman said the district likes to buy a new ambulance for one of its departments every other year. He said three ambulances are stationed in Ketchum, three with Wood River Fire & Rescue in Hailey and two older ones in Carey. He said there are times when all the ambulances from one department are out on multiple calls or responding to a bad car accident.
    Lassman said Wood River’s oldest ambulance is 10 years old and has 104,000 miles on it—more than the national standard of a maximum of seven years and 70,000 miles. However, he said the district doesn’t go strictly by the national standard, partly because vehicles in rural areas don’t get as much wear and tear as those in a city.
    “We’ll be good for another year,” he said.
    By state law, a final fiscal 2014 budget must be set by Sept. 9. The tentative budget can be reduced but not increased.

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