Breckenridge Texan

Commissioners make appointments to ambulance service task force, continue burn ban

Commissioners make appointments to ambulance service task force, continue burn ban
July 26
09:17 2019

At their meeting on Monday, July 22, Stephens County commissioners appointed County Judge Michael Roach and Precinct 3 County Commissioner Will Warren to a task force created by the Stephens Memorial Hospital Board to study ambulance service in Stephens County.

Under an interlocal agreement, costs for emergency ambulance service in the county are shared evenly between Stephens County, the City of Breckenridge and the Stephens Memorial Hospital District.

The decision to create the task force came about during the regular meeting of the Stephens Memorial Hospital Board on Thursday, July 18. During that meeting, Sacred Cross EMS, Inc. representatives gave an overview of his company’s financial performance from operating ambulance services in Stephens County. The meeting was also attended by Roach, Precinct 2 Commissioner Mark McCullough and Breckenridge City Manager Andy McCuistion,

Sacred Cross also reported the problems they have had collecting unpaid bills from patients they’ve transported on emergency calls, as well as some proposed changes to their contract for providing ambulance services when their contract comes up for renewal next year.

Following the Sacred Cross presentation and after a discussion between the SMH board members, Roach and McCuistion, the hospital board agreed to set up a task force to study the options for providing ambulance service in Stephens County. Each entity will appoint two people to serve on the task force.

Roach told commissioners at Monday’s meeting that the hospital board is trying to figure out how to afford the ambulance service.

“The ambulance service is looking at proposing a pretty substantial increase,” he said. “One figure was $400,000 with an $85,000 true-up and one was like $300,000 with some kind of true-up. It’s going to be tough. At the end of the day, if the hospital doesn’t have an ambulance service, if the community doesn’t have an ambulance service, that is not a good thing. It cannot happen.”

Roach said the commissioners court needs to be part of the task force and figure out what they’re going to do. “It’s going to be a tough, tough thing to figure out,” he said.

Authorized BEDC Funding for Rodeo Arena Renovation

Commissioners also authorized the Breckenridge Economic Development Corporation to provide financial assistance to the Stephens County Ag Association for the Rodeo Arena Project.

Virgil Moore, director of the Breckenridge Economic Development Corporation, told commissioners that anytime the BEDC spends funds that end up in another jurisdiction outside the Breckenridge city limits they are required to get that entity’s permission to use the money there. He said because the rodeo arena is outside the city limits and is under Stephens County jurisdiction, the BEDC needs the county’s permission to do the project.

Moore said the BEDC agreed to provide $45,000 to help pay for the renovation the rodeo arena.

In addition to the BEDC funds, County Commissioners voted to allocate $35,000 from the Stephens County Capital Credits Fund toward upgrading the rodeo arena during their July 8 meeting. Although the funds were allocated at that meeting, Roach said they won’t actually be paid until the group has raised the rest of the money they need to complete the project, which is expected to cost about $90,000.

Keep Burn Ban in Place

Also at Monday’s meeting, commissioners took no action on the current county-wide burn ban and left it in place, following a recommendation by Breckenridge Fire Chief Calvin Chaney.

Chaney said that when he originally requested commissioners court put the burn ban in place earlier in the year, the drought index for Stephens County was at 57, but by Monday’s meeting the high was already 419 and the average was 350.

“We’ve already had multiple grass fires, we’ve had them set by blow outs, electrical lines,” he said.  “We’re just in that time of year, so I would definitely say do not lift the burn ban.”

Story by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan

Cutline, top photo: Stephens County commissioners appointed County Judge Michael Roach (center) and Precinct 3 County Commissioner Will Warren (right) to a joint task force to study providing ambulance service in Stephens County. (Photo by Tony Pilkington/Breckenridge Texan)

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