DANVILLE – In place of a fire safety fee placed on garbage and sewer bills to help pay for fire department operating costs, Mayor Scott Eisenhauer now proposes an emergency medical services response fee for dispatch of the fire division for a medical call.
Aldermen at Tuesday night’s city council meeting started discussions on a third draft of the city’s proposed 2014-2015 budget. A roomful of firefighters and their supporters listened to the budget discussions.
Also proposed in the budget is an early retirement savings program that would save the city about $240,000.
Ward 4 Alderman Mike O’Kane also asked the administration to look at charging for responding to house fires and accidents. O’Kane said people can have insurance coverage to help reimburse the city for these responses, too.
The EMS Response Fee is user based, rather than a tax imposed on each structure throughout the city, and would assist the city in tackling an estimated $800,000 budget shortfall.
Based on 1,200 dispatches the Fire Division responded to in 2013, multiplied by a minimum $300 response fee — $150 for the vehicle and $50 each for responding personnel for one-hour response — at a collection rate of 70 percent, the EMS Response Fee would generate $252,000.
A billing process would be initiated by a Fire Division report and vouchered by the city’s finance division.
In an effort to reimburse some costs associated with providing basic response to emergencies, city council members already passed an ordinance implementing a response fee for providing services to individuals who don’t live in Danville. The ordinance generated 14 vouchers during a three-year period and added less than $10,000 in revenue, according to Eisenhauer.
“With the amount of public testimony indicating the need for our Fire Division to respond to medical emergencies providing a quicker response, and the concern that the private entity licensed to provide EMS response within the city limits cannot do so in the same expeditious manner, it would seem reasonable that the value-added service would be worth payment of a response fee,” Eisenhauer stated in his budget notes to aldermen.