LS council gives initial OK to ambulance fee hikes

2013-09-05T21:45:00Z 2013-12-05T18:10:05Z LS council gives initial OK to ambulance fee hikesDeborah Laverty deborah.laverty@nwi.com, (219) 762-1397, ext. 2223 nwitimes.com

LAKE STATION | The City Council gave initial approval Thursday to an ordinance increasing the city's ambulance service fees.

The ordinance still needs final approval before the new fees would go into effect, city officials said.

City Councilman Rick Long, D-5th, said the proposed increase puts the city in line with surrounding communities.

Long said the city took into consideration several factors, including fees paid by several surrounding communities and recommendations made by the city EMS director.

"It puts us in the middle of what the director was proposing," Long said.

Long said city officials in 2007 had approved a 3 percent annual increase in its ambulance fees but left it out of the ordinance.

"This proposed ordinance gets us to where we would have been if the 3 percent annual increase would have been in place," Long said.

Under Lake Station's proposal, basic ambulance service would go from $400 to $510, advanced life support level one would go from $500 to $615 and advanced life support level two would go from $700 to $860.

Under the proposal, mileage would be increased to $16.25 from $9.50 and oxygen to $20 from $15.

Arthur "Skip" Howard, Lake Station's EMS director, in July 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 city is looking at increasing fees as an option before considering the possibility of going with a private ambulance service, Mayor Keith Soderquist said at a previous meeting.

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 earlier this summer for its ambulance services including a separate charge for oxygen use on a basic life support call and an increase for mileage.

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