A year and a half ago the Ada County Emergency Medical Service asked voters for a tax increase to fund the ailing ambulance service–with dire predictions from the Ada Commishes if it failed.
Today they have enough extra staff, vehicles, and supplies to go after U.S. Forest Service contracts far outside Ada County. During the past summer the Ada County EMS provided standby services at three out of county fires for a total of $53,134. Based on the figures provided by the county it looks like they were out for 22 days with various paramedics doing the duty.
To fill the staffing gap, employees were authorized overtime pay within the county for normal calls. Ada County EMS claims the Forest Service contracted price of $100 per hour for two paramedics and an ambulance exceeds the cost of staff wages and benefits. It appears they are claiming to make a profit using county staff and equipment outside Ada County.
The GUARDIAN ran the question by two private ambulance companies and managers of both firms were unaware that Ada County was in the business of providing contract service outside the county limits. Each complained about being licensed by the agency that competes with them for the non-emergency transport business.
John Fogg, owner of Ada-Boi, told us, “They have no business competing with my business–especially outside the county.”
The Canyon County Ambulance service declined to bid on Forest Service business, saying they felt an obligation to county residents and didn’t feel the additional costs of overtime, workers comp, social security, and retirement benefits would justify leaving the county.
Bottom line: Ada County feels they made a profit selling services outside the county and residents will benefit from their astute business acumen.
With that line of reasoning the GUARDIAN wondered why other departments don’t follow suit. The assessor could contract for appraisals in Boise County, the treasurer could collect taxes from Elmore County residents, the Parks Department could manage Forest Service Campgrounds, and the Commishes would serve as a board of directors raking in the cash.
We think they have overstepped their bounds–which is the county line–and need to revisit the policy of competing with private sector businesses.
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