The City of Marshall Fire Chief Reggie Cooper on Thursday presented a case to the city commissioners to implement a “no transport” fee for when his firefighters and EMS workers respond to a call that doesn’t result in the patient being transported to a hospital.
The commissioners unanimously approved the fee, $100 for city residents and $150 for county residents outside of the city limits, which is set to begin sometime in June, City Manager Mark Rohr said.
“We need to enhance the revenues coming in to the city in order to start to address our needs in a more effective way,” Rohr said. “In order to do that, we need to rethink how we’ve done business in the past and that’s what these two pieces of legislation are intended to do.
“These two pieces of legislation are intended to be presented in tandem.”
Rohr said the city has lost an average of about $850,000 in unpaid bills per year in EMS fees throughout the past few years.
“When you put that in context of the street program we have later on in the agenda, that’s about 66 percent, in addition to what we prorate every year, that we could do on streets if we collected that whole amount or any portion thereof,” Rohr said. “I think it bears repeating — our street program this year is about $1.3 million and we have about $850,000 in unrealized EMS revenue that people aren’t paying.
“Wouldn’t it be nice if a certain percentage of that, if not all of that, could be redistributed back into the street program. That’s about double the amount of streets we could pave every year.”
Rohr said the city would now pursue recouping those costs from those that own property through the local court system as a tandem piece to collect the fees that the city is due.
“We’re going to try that on a trial basis and implement a separate process for others through the municipal court system — through our restitutional labor program for those people that are legitimately unable to pay those bills, so that the city would derive some benefit to address our goals moving forward within the city of Marshall,” he said.
Cooper said as a result of the two pieces of legislation brought forth on Thursday, Marshall Fire Department sought to charge for “no-transport” services.
“These are the actual ambulance calls that we go and see an individual and the individual ends up deciding they don’t want to go on with us to the hospital,” Cooper said. “We call that a no-transport.
“On an average year, we respond to a total of 4,670 EMS calls, with 1,205 of those resulting in contact without transport/no-transport.”
Cooper said of those 4,670 calls, the city’s departments responded to 3,569, with the rest being responded to by ESDs in the county.
Of the 1,205 no-transport responses, Cooper said the city made up 913 of those and the ESDs made up 292 in one year.
“There are various types of no-transport,” Cooper said. “You have a treat no-transport, resuscitation no-transport, an assist no-transport. So we’re asking for a fee to go out and charge for these no-transports — within the city and outside the city.”
Cooper said on many of the no-transport calls his department faces, life saving services may be given, yet no fee is assessed for the department’s time, equipment, personnel or fuel, due to the patient refusing transport to a hospital facility.
Cooper said the department and city could reserve the right to charge the fee or not charge the fee, depending on the circumstances of the no-transport call, including if the patient was not the one to call for ambulance services.
The second part of Cooper’s pitch to the commissioners on Thursday to recoup EMS costs, was to hire McCreary, Veselka, Bragg and Allen P.C. Attorneys at Law, which the city currently uses for municipal court, to collect back-owed EMS fees for city and county residents, going back three years.
For their service, MVBA will net 20 percent of the collected back owed EMS fees, Cooper said. The city will enter a three-year contract with MVBA to collect these fees.
The commissioners unanimously approved the measure on Thursday.
The city commissioners on Thursday also unanimously approved a change to the ordinance regulating the time and alcohol use at city parks. The times for city parks will now be from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., with exceptions given as needed in advance for certain games, and a policy of no alcoholic beverages on city park property.