For many years, the town of Salina has had contracts with area ambulance companies that helped residents cover the cost of emergency ambulance trips. Those contracts have not been renewed for 2011. The decision to discontinue the contracts was a difficult one for the Salina Town Board; one we certainly did not take lightly. However, our goal, especially this year, was to strike a balance of services that the town needs to provide with a fiscally responsible budget.
The contracts originated many years ago, out of a need for coverage when the fire department stopped providing ambulance services. The town signed a contract with the ambulance company to ensure that ambulance service would be available in the town when needed. This need has become obsolete now that we have several ambulance companies that cover our area. Also factoring into the board's decision was the disproportionate number of people who are required to pay for the service against those that actually use the service. In fact, of more than 30,000 residents, less than 300 (1% of the population) use the service each year. The contract became a form of forced supplemental insurance for all Salina taxpayers. Town governments, however, were never intended to be in the insurance business. No other town provides the same service to their residents.
This change does not affect the availability of ambulance service in any way.
The same ambulance companies that have served your area will continue to answer your emergency calls. The only change is that the town of Salina will no longer be the payee of last resort for the ambulance service bill. Once the ambulance company has billed all available insurance, the patient will be responsible for the balance of the bill, instead of the town. You will also notice this year that the ambulance special district tax that paid for this service is no longer on your tax bill.