Ambulance fees set to increase for Nikiski, CES

No free ride in saving lives

Posted: Friday, May 05, 2006

The Kenai Peninsula Borough Assembly approved setting and increasing fees for ambulance and other medical emergency services in the Nikiski Fire Service and the Central Emergency Service areas at its meeting Tuesday in Seward.

The increase marks the first time since the Nikiski Fire Service Area was created in 1969 that residents will be charged fees for ambulance rides. The service area board voted in February to begin imposing fees for medical response, but assembly action was required to make that happen. The new fees consist of the following:

· Basic life support rate, $400 per response.

· Advanced life support rate, $600 per response.

· Transport between two points, $400 per response.

· Medevac rate, $5,500 per hour per response.

· Mileage rate (one way), $7 per mile.

Revenue from the fees will support service area capital projects and the equipment capital fund, pay personnel wages and benefits associated with emergency ambulance responses, provide supplies for EMS patient care, and help pay for ambulance maintenance costs and fuel.

Another ordinance revises the current fee schedule for the Central Emergency Service Area and the Central Peninsula Emergency Medical Service Area.

According to CES Chief Chris Mokracek, fees for ambulance, equipment and emergency medical services have not changed since early 1999.

The new fees will look like this:

· Basic life support, $500 plus mileage.

· Advanced life support, $700 plus mileage.

· Trip to the hospital (one way), $7 per mile.

· Medevac (hospital to airport), $500 plus mileage.

Both service areas will begin imposing the new fees July 1.

The assembly also adopted an ordinance to require people seeking extensions on filing for the $20,000 residential property tax exemption and the disabled resident tax credit to do so no later than Feb. 15 of the calendar year for which the exemption is sought.

Shane Horan, director of assessing, told the assembly managing the scores of late-filed waiver forms forces the assessing and finance departments to “expend precious funds and employee time.”

In 2005, for instance, 108 residents sought late-file waivers for the residential tax break, and 17 others for the disabled resident tax credit. In the 2006 assessment year, the total late filers has already reached 141.

Horan noted that each request requires the department to send a property owner a late-file waiver form. When it is returned, ownership and occupancy must be verified. Requests are then sent to the mayor for approval. If approved, the assessing department then prepares a tax adjustment request and forwards that to the finance department for processing of refunds.

The ordinance does retain a clause giving the mayor the discretion to waive the deadline in unusual circumstances.

In other business, the assembly postponed action on the fiscal year 2007 budget ordinance until the May 16 meeting. They also approved a resolution adopting the Department of Commerce, Community and Economic Development’s 2005 count of the borough’s population — 51,268 people. That was made necessary by a recount that revised Seldovia’s population upward from 243 to 287. State law required the borough to pass a resolution adopting the new number.

A measure that proposed imposing an value-based tax on nonfishing commercial watercraft of 100 feet or more was withdrawn by its sponsor, assembly member Pete Sprague, of Soldotna. A similar move had been rejected late last year.

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