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Hughes, Stanley County Commissions are holding a public hearing today on the proposed ambulance district

AUGUST 17, 2022:

The Stanley and Hughes County Commissions are holding a public hearing today (August 17, 2022) on the proposed Central South Dakota Ambulance District.

An informational open house will be held from 4 to 5:30 p.m. in the Dakota room of the River Cities Public Transit in Pierre (1600 E Dakota Avenue). The joint meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m.

Both county commissions and the towns of Fort Pierre, Pierre, Blunt and Harrold support the resolution creating the ambulance district that would serve Hughes and Stanley counties. Voters will have the final say when they go to the polls in November (2022).

The joint meeting will also be available by telephone. To register, call 1-667-770-1890 and enter passcode: 5534266. Please put your phone on mute when not addressing the commissions.

A second public hearing will be held next week (August 25, 2022, 6:00 p.m.) at the Senior Center in Fort Pierre.

The current agreement with American Medical Response to provide ambulance services in the respective jurisdictions expires at the end of this year. If the proposed district is approved, someone with a home with a tax value of $250,000 would pay less than $60 a year for ambulance district fees.

If a majority of voters approve, the cost would be split:

  • Stone 40%

  • Hughes County 36%

  • Fort Pierre 13%

  • Stanley County 11%

If the ambulance district is on the November ballot and voters do not approve of its creation, AMR could discontinue service in Hughes and Stanley County. AMR says their cost of operating in both counties has increased significantly over the past few years, pprincipally due to a lack of staff. AMR has been forced to hire paramedics from as far away as California to fill staffing gaps here– i.e. to cover the costs of travel, accommodation and meal in addition to paramedic salarys.

AUGUST 3, 2022:

Add Pierre and Stanley County to the list of local governments that have passed a resolution supporting the creation of the Central South Dakota Ambulance District.

Hughes County, Fort Pierre and Blunt also endorsed the resolution. Harrold will also review the proposal.

Stone Town Commissioner Vona Johnson says the stream OK with American Medical Response to provide ambulance services in the respective jurisdictions expires at the end of this year.

Johnson says there are ambulance districts in other parts of the state.

If someone has a house with a tax value of $250,000, the person would pay less than $60 a year for ambulance district fees.

An information meeting will be held on August 17, 2022 at 5:30 p.m. at the River Cities Public Transit in Pierre.

If a majority of voters approve the resolution this fall, the cost would be split:

  • Stone 40%

  • Hughes County 36%

  • Fort Pierre 13%

  • Stanley County 11%

Whether the ambulance district is on the ballot in November and the voters do not approve of its creation, AMR may interrupt service in Hughes and Stanley County.

AUGUST 2, 2022:

The Hughes County Commission and Fort Pierre City Council unanimously approved resolutions supporting the creation of the Central South Dakota Ambulance District. This could include Hughes and Stanley counties and towns included within those boundaries.

Hughes County Executive Kevin Hipple says that to continue providing services in the area, AMR is requesting a grant increase of $280,000 per year (from $135,000 to $415,000).

Currently, Pierre, Fort Pierre and both counties have an agreement with American Medical Response to provide ambulance services in their jurisdictions. This agreement includes a grant from each of the four local governments, which expires at the end of this year.

Alderman of Fort Pierre City Scott Deal said labor issues have been driving up costs for years and AMR is covering the expenses.

Fort Pierre Mayor Gloria Hanson said all entities involved must pass a resolution of intent to form the ambulance district.

Hanson says if someone has a home with a tax value of $250,000, the person would pay less than $60 for ambulance district fees.

The Stone Town Commission and the Stanley County Commission will each consider the ambulance district resolution at their respective meetings tonight (August 2, 2022).

If a majority of voters approve the resolution this fall, the cost would be split:

  • Stone 40%
  • Hughes County 36%
  • Fort Pierre 13%
  • Stanley County 11%

The towns of Blunt and Harrold will also consider similar resolutions.

If not passed, AMR could disrupt service in Hughes and Stanley County.

AUGUST 1, 2022:

The towns of Pierre and Fort Pierre, as well as Hughes and Stanley counties hope to change the way ambulance service is subsidized in the two counties, but they need a public vote to do so.

Together, the two cities and two counties currently have an agreement with American Medical Response (AMR) to provide ambulance services in their jurisdictions. This agreement includes a grant from each of the four local governments; the agreement expires at the end of this year. In order to continue to provide services in the region, AMR is requesting an increase in the grant of $280,000 per year.

“When AMR brought forward the increase, they indicated that labor issues had been driving up costs for years,” Public Safety Commissioner Pierre Vona Johnson said. “They’re struggling to find and retain paramedics, and they’ve been covering those increased costs for some time.”

AMR’s fee for services next year is $415,000, up from the current $135,000.

“Under the existing agreement, local government entities are able to absorb the costs; it is unlikely that all jurisdictions will be able to continue to do so in the future,” Johnson said.

To help combat rising costs and the associated budget shortfalls, the group wants to create an ambulance district. The district would authorize a special property assessment to cover the cost of ambulance services provided in the Hughes and Stanley Counties Ambulance District.

“State law allows the district to collect just enough to cover costs,” Johnson said. “If you own a $250,000 house, it will be less than $60 a year.”

By state law, a public vote is required to establish an ambulance district and collect a special assessment on its behalf. This week, the cities of Pierre, Fort Pierre and Blunt, as well as Hughes and Stanley counties are considering resolutions to endorse the idea and present it to voters in November. Other communities located in Hughes and Stanley counties may consider the matter at a later date.

“We don’t expect the cost of doing business to drop any time soon,” Johnson said. “Collectively, we believe that an ambulance district is the best way to ensure reliable and continuous ambulance service for all citizens of Hughes and Stanley counties. »