Washington Evening Journal
111 North Marion Avenue
Washington, IA 52353
The Washington County Board of Supervisors has approved rates for the county-owned ambulance service at the request of the state auditor.
“The state auditor went through and audited the county, they basically said, ‘We need to have the Board of Supervisors approve your rates for your base levels and your mileage,” Ambulance Director Jeremy Peck said. “These are the rates that we adopted from the previous service, we just need something showing you guys said they were good.”
Peck clarified shortly after that the services had added a $50 charge for non-residents.
“To me, it’s looking out for our own people,” he said. “As a taxpayer of this county, I feel it’s fair to charge somebody else if we can get the money out of it, because they don’t pay taxes for our ambulances.”
While he eventually voted to approve the rates, Board Chair Richard Young, who used to manage the service, disagreed.
"I’ve never been in favor of a non-resident fee the whole time I ran it,“ Young said. ”The very few people that you can charge that $50 is very minimal.“
Supervisor Bob Yoder agreed, and voted against the rates.
“Say I’m in Keokuk County or Jefferson or whatever it is and the same situation comes up, I’d be doing the same thing to their county,” he said. “One way to look at it is, why don’t we just have more of a reciprocity type of attitude about it, because we all travel to different counties.”
Supervisors also formalized fees for the ambulance’s mileage at $22 per mile (above the previous $20) and standby fees for events, which were set at $125 per hour.
Supervisors said they were frustrated with norms that allowed insurance companies to pay less than half the ambulance bills of their clients, making revenues difficult to plan.
“As a business owner … I look at it as, ‘What’s my expenses, what’s my overhead, what’s my labor?’ figure out all the rate, and then we set our price at that,” he said. “When we have those people that actually need to pay for the service, they should pay for what it costs, honestly, that’s the way it should work, and we should have that mentality even though this is government, and I have to change my mindset constantly, to try to think … differently than I would normally think.”
With costs rising across the economy, supervisors said they planned to revisit the fees before the start of the next fiscal year.
“Before July, we really need to sit down and go over all these to make sure this is reflecting our true cost now,” Young said. “These are what I came up with in ‘20 except the mileage change you had made.”