Ambulance Council, provider ‘meet in middle’

After cities say no to Chickasaw Ambulance Service proposal, council members, ambulance owner compromise

The new Chickasaw County Ambulance Council moved closer to reaching an agreement with the Chickasaw Ambulance Service during a lengthy meeting Tuesday, just one day after a number of city councils, including Nashua’s, rejected a proposal made by the service.

The two sides compromised on a number of issues, including the cost of the contract, during Tuesday night’s meeting and came up with a two-year contract that will pay the service $217,500 in the fiscal year beginning on July 1 and $228,402 in the second year of the contract.

Chickasaw Ambulance Service had  proposed a contract that would call on the county and cities to provide it with $467,400 in subsidies — $228,000 in the fiscal year beginning July 1 and $239,400 in the second year — and the Chickasaw County Board of Supervisors approved the agreement Monday morning, but the city councils in Nashua, New Hampton, Fredericksburg and Lawler all rejected the offer later that night.

“The plan for us was we’d give [Chickasaw County Ambulance Service owner] Jeremy [McGrath] the first shot,” New Hampton Mayor Bobby Schwickerath told his city council on Monday night, “and then if that didn’t work, we’d go to the RFPs [request for proposals] from other services. But now, we’re hearing that some cities are going to leave the council and that’s where we’re at.”

But none of the city councils that met Monday night approved withdrawing from the Ambulance Council, although they all voted against the contract offer made by Chickasaw Ambulance Service.

On Tuesday night, MercyOne New Hampton Medical Center CEO and President Aaron Flugum said it was important that the two sides at least agree on what the main points of contention were.

“We can go round and round in circles,” he said, “but honestly, we need to address the points. I hear money, which is probably the biggest one, but we have to address the issues you have, and find common  ground.”

Chickasaw County Auditor Stephanie Mashek asked McGrath if he would be willing to split the difference between the council’s first offer of $195,000 and the service’s opening offer of $240,000.

McGrath eventually agreed to the proposal, which will now be taken back to the various councils and boards before the next Ambulance Council meeting that is set for March 16.

— For more on this story, see the March 4 Reporter and the March 9 Tribune

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