The Springdale City Council on Tuesday night approved a $68,744 deal with Benton County to provide ambulance service to unincorporated parts of the county. The contract extends the partnership between the two entities for this calendar year.
The move comes a day after Bella Vista city leaders approved a similar contract with the county for $10,000. Benton County Quorum Court members last month approved spending about $800,000 on rural ambulance service after voters rejected a fee that would have funded the service.
"We feel like the county needs to step up, and fully reimburse us for the coverage we have in their county," said Doug Sprouse, mayor of Springdale.
That's why city leaders in Springdale said an agreement with the county was necessary to continue ambulance service to unincorporated areas.
"The cost and call volume is increasing, so we've got to have some sort of support to help us get out there to those areas," said Mike Irwin, Springdale Fire Chief.
The five-figure contract will not cover all expenses for the ambulance service.
"It's only a subsidy," Irwin said. "That's what people do not understand. There are many hidden costs that come into an actual EMS district and service."
Springdale makes just over 170 runs to rural parts of Benton County a year.
"We generate about 6,000 calls per year in our system," Irwin said. "We are looking at about 200 calls in rural Washington County and 174 in Benton County"
But those few hundred calls cost money. Sprouse said the city loses about $500,000 a year from its ambulance service.
"This is not a money maker for us, and I believe everybody that we contract with understands that," he said. "When we get to the point where we can provide services just within city limits of Springdale, I think that will be better for us."
Springdale has been providing services to rural Benton County since 1968. The city had a contract with the county last year for $30,000.