Lake Station City Council tables action on ambulance fee hike

2013-08-01T22:15:00Z 2013-09-05T20:41:13Z Lake Station City Council tables action on ambulance fee hikeDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

LAKE STATION | The City Council took a pass Thursday on voting on an ordinance increasing ambulance service fees in every category.

The Lake Station council tabled the proposal and instead will discuss the issue further in a workshop session set for Aug. 15, Mayor Keith Soderquist said.

Council members, at the request of Councilman John McDaniel, also will be provided with copies of sample ambulance fee ordinances from other communities to make comparisons, City Attorney Ray Szarmach said.

Sample ordinances have been obtained from Crown Point, Portage and Hobart, Szarmach said.

Arthur "Skip" Howard, Lake Station's EMS director, last month told city officials there is a need to increase ambulance service fees in every category to keep up with increased costs of gasoline, medications and equipment.

Howard said the EMS is in the red but could be in the black if the increases are approved.

The suggested changes include an automatic 3 percent increase that would go into effect in January 2015.

"The city's EMS is not currently self-sustaining and is definitely in the red," Soderquist said.

The city is looking at increasing fees as an option before considering the possibility of going with a private ambulance service.

Lake Station isn't alone in seeking to balance its ambulance budget.

Portage raised its ambulance fees last year to keep up with the cost of providing services.

Hobart approved additional fees last week for its ambulance services.

Those increases included adding a separate charge for oxygen use on a basic life support call.

Hobart officials also approved raising the transport mileage fee from $9.50 to $11 with a maximum of 5 miles.

Under Lake Station's proposal, basic ambulance service would go from $400 to $600; advanced life support level one from $500 to $700 and advanced life support level two would go from $700 to $900.

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