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Article updated: 2/8/2012 1:16 PM

Batavia will pay more for its share of ambulance cost

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Batavia will pick up a bigger share of the cost of running Tri-City Ambulance under a proposed new funding agreement.

The Batavia City Services committee Tuesday recommended approving the change. The city council will vote on it, likely at its Feb. 20 meeting.

The cost rejiggering comes in the wake of the Fox River & Countryside Fire/Rescue District leaving the agency. That district used to contract with the St. Charles Fire Department for fire and rescue services, but last year took over such matters itself. That left remaining members to figure out whether it was necessary to keep five ambulances in service, and how to fairly divide costs.

Tri-City Ambulance was founded in 1984. Members are the cities of Batavia, Geneva and St. Charles, the Batavia and Countryside Fire Protection District and Geneva Township. User fees cover almost half of the cost; the rest comes from those governments' budgets. Currently, that is proportioned based on the entities' equalized assessed valuations of property, which results in Batavia paying 27 percent, Geneva 27 percent and St. Charles 41 percent. In March 2011, St. Charles aldermen said this was unfair.

Under the new plan, for the next five years Batavia and St. Charles will pay 35 percent and Geneva 27 percent.

After that, the costs will be divided based on the number of ambulance runs. St. Charles has the most calls, followed by Batavia, then Geneva.

Ambulance users are charged $600 to $800 a run, depending on the medical complexity of their case. Nonresidents are charged an extra $100.

Batavia Alderman Robert Liva said he would like to see individual members have the ability to set their own rates, in an effort to cover their town's costs. Batavia expects to pay $435,000 in 2012 for ambulance service, about $115,000 more than in previous years.

"As we move toward a cost-per-use basis, I would like to see an opportunity to bill as we desire," Liva said, including possibly charging non-Medicare users more to make up for the non-reimbursed costs of Medicare patients.

The St. Charles Government Services Committee recommended the pact Monday night, and the St. Charles City Council will vote on it Feb. 21.

Geneva city officials are still reviewing the proposal.

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