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How much for an ambulance ride?

After four years, Princeton considers rate increase

Published: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 1:50 p.m. CDT • Updated: Friday, Aug. 8, 2014 1:52 p.m. CDT

PRINCETON — The Princeton Fire Protection District is looking at adjustments to its ambulance billing rates.

At this week’s meeting, Princeton City Manager Jeff Clawson presented the proposed changes as a first reading for consideration by the Princeton City Council.

The proposed increases would result in a charge of $375 for Basic Life Support (BLS) non-emergency call and $450 for a BLS emergency call for residents of the Princeton Fire Protection District and the communities with contracts for the Princeton service. For the Intermediate Life Support (ILS) non-emergency call for a resident, the new fee would be $425 with a charge of $500 for ILS emergency call.

Charges for non-residents would remain at $450 for BLS non-emergency; be increased to $550 for BLS emergency; remain at $525 for ILS non-emergency; and increase to $625 for ILS emergency.

The proposed ambulance billing increases also include three new charges for non-residents. A non--transport refusal fee will be $150; a vehicle charge per hour for a motor vehicle accident will be $125; and a manpower charge will be $35 per hour. Again, these new charges are for non-residents.

On Tuesday, Princeton Fire Chief Chuck Woolley said the proposed rate increases were suggested by looking at the industry’s standard in the area and the Interstate 80 corridor which he received by the department’s billing company. Not all rates were increased.

The increases calculated to an average of just under 15 percent which averages out to 3.75 percent for each of the last four years, dating back to 2010 when the last rates were reviewed, Woolley said.

Concerning the new refusal fee for non-residents, Woolley said if there is an accident and someone sees the accident and calls it into the department, the person involved in the accident would be charged the refusal fee, if the person refused transfer.

The Princeton City Council will review the proposed ambulance billing changes and have a second reading at its next meeting.

In other business at Monday’s meeting, Clawson presented information on a proposed sump pump program which would hopefully reduce the infiltration and inflow of water into the city’s sanitary sewer system by removing sump pump discharges from the city’s sanitary sewer system.

Infiltration occurs when groundwater seeps into the sewer pipes through cracks, leaky joints and deteriorated manholes. Inflow occurs when water is directed from sump pumps and downspout drains into the sanitary sewer.

The sump pump inspection program will identify those sump pumps that are improperly connected to the sanitary sewer and will provide direction on how to remedy the problem.

Water entering the wastewater collection and treatment systems creates two main problems, Clawson said. First, the water consumes system capacity. An 8-inch sanitary sewer can handle sewage from up to 200 homes. But if only eight sump pumps discharge to this same sewer, it would become overloaded. If the capacity is overwhelmed, the sewer can back-up into houses, and the system will eventually overflow from manholes causing flooding of raw sewage into the environments.

The second main problem is that clear water that reaches the treatment plant is treated unnecessarily, which increases the cost of treatment and adds to the wear and tear of the equipment, reducing its life span, Clawson said.

As proposed by the program, Princeton residents would be asked to contact the city if they suspect their sump pump may be tied into the sanitary sewer system. The city would schedule a home inspection of the sump pump system, at no cost to the resident. If the sump pump system is determined to be connected to the city system, the city will require the problem to be fixed, with the city matching one-half of the total cost of repair, up to a maximum of $500.

Clawson asked the council at Monday’s meeting to review the proposal for consideration.

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