Proposal to Increase Ambulance Fees Up for Approval

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SEBASTIAN COUNTY (KFSM) - The Sebastian County Quorum Court will meet tonight (August 25) to give final approval to a proposal to raise ambulance fees in the county.

The County Judge David Hudson proposed the increase in ambulance service fees for people who live outside of Fort Smith and Barling. The EMS service area includes nine cities and the unincorporated areas, including Central City, Mansfield, Hartford, Lavaca, Greenwood, Bonanza, Hackett, Huntington, and Midland.

Hudson said the proposed increase would be necessary to alleviate some pressure from the county's general fund. For the past 28 years, the county's ambulance fee has been $18 giving Sebastian County EMS an annual budget of $1.3 million. According to meeting documents, the EMS is supported by $250,000 from the ambulance fee, $500,000 from service billings, and $620,452 from the general fund.

However, county officials said there's already too much pressure on the budget. Hudson said this because the ambulance service now needs two 24-hour paramedic crews to service the county. The basis for the suggested fee increase is to allow the county to continue to support the service.

If approved, it will be placed before voters in the November election.