Fremont County Treasurer Scott Harnsberger has called a press conference for this afternoon at the Courthouse in Lander to express his concerns over Fremont County giving up its ambulance service to a private provider.
The treasurer prepared a bullet point list of his concerns that he will
discuss at the press conference (see below). Harnsberger said the
transaction would increase fees to those using the service, including fees
to county and other government agencies, and he claims the revenue received
by the county under a draft agreement has been understated and that a
county subsidy would still be required to keep the service going.
Here are Harnsberger's concerns:
*Increased fees to citizens*
o Stand by contract rates will increase from $95 to $125 (32% Increase)
o Affect: Fair, school and rodeo event costs will increase.
o Treat at scene rates will increase from $100-$200 to $500 (500%-250%
o Affect: This will impact Senior Citizens who suffer from symptoms of
diabetes and other conditions that can be treated on site.
o ALS and BLS rates for varying levels of services will increase, some as
high as 33% (Advanced Life Support and Basic Life Support)
o $125,000 net annual lease payment. The contract calls for $250,000 per
year, however 50% is unearned revenue (a liability) until the sale of
capital assets takes place at the end of the lease term in February 2021.
o Dispatch Subsidy $45,000. The contract provides for a $45,000 discount
for dispatch services. All governmental agencies receiving dispatch from
the County currently pay the costs of dispatch less the E911 surtax. In
order for the Dispatch Fund to break even the County will pay the cost not
covered in the contract.
o Sheriff Hornecker is very concerned that users of dispatch will see this
as “unequal” and wreak havoc on the willingness of other agencies to pay
their share of dispatching costs.
o Guardian Plus Membership $122,000. The County will pay $122,109 to Air
Medical Resource Group (AMRG). Membership benefits are not described in
the contract. This subsidy almost entirely negates the $125,000 net lease
o Property tax $26,000. Since the County is leasing assets to a for-profit
entity the Capital Assets of the County’ Ambulance Fund will be subject to
property tax. The added expense will approximate $26,000. Vehicle
licensing fees and sales tax will be paid by AMRG.
o Depreciation $235,000. Average for five years
o Insurance $21,000. The County will continue to insure the vehicles,
equipment and buildings.
o Repairs and maintenance on Ambulances ($23,000). This expense will
likely go away. Currently the Ambulance Fund does not pay for these costs.
*The bottom line*
o On average the annual subsidy to AMRG will approximate $301,000 per year.
o AMRG will have $625,000 credit to apply to the purchase of the remaining
assets comprised primarily of two buildings and the land. AMRG will have
positioned itself well to be the only bidder on County-owned assets.
o Fees to the citizens of Fremont County will substantially increase at the
beginning of the lease and may increase as much as 5% per year without the
approval of the Fremont County Commission.
o The Ambulance Fund capital assets book value will be $1,100,000 less than
what was on the books at the beginning of the lease agreement, with no
plans for replacement along the way.
o The contract calls for the County to provide dispatch service only to
AMRG, thus creating a monopoly for Ambulance Service.
o Local government subsidies to the for-profit will continue to be
necessary even if the assets are sold to the AMRG at the end of the 5-year
lease. Based upon the experience of other rural counties, subsidies
ranging from $200,000 to $400,000 will continue to be necessary to support
an ambulance service in Fremont County.