Terre Haute City Council OKs increase in ambulance user fees – Evening News and Tribune

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Updated: September 10, 2022 @ 1:09 pm
 Bill Berry is the chief of the Terre Haute Fire Department.

 Bill Berry is the chief of the Terre Haute Fire Department.
Terre Haute Fire Chief Bill Berry went before the Terre Haute City Council on Thursday evening to request an increase in ambulance user fees, raising life support fees $100 for several categories — they used to range from $450-$750, but will be elevated to $550-$850 for each person requiring an ambulance run.
Berry emphasized that the user fees were not a tax, that they have actually saved taxpayers tens of millions of dollars over the past 22 years. He explained that the user fees were originally created in 2000, and since then, there had been only two fee hikes, in 2009 and 2013.
Berry also pointed out that patients with Medicare and Medicaid are not billed the ambulance fee, and that 90% of Indiana’s other fire departments charge higher fees.
The council voted 8-0 to approve the fee increase.
“This is long overdue,” Berry said. “I don’t know how we’ve kept it there [at the 2013 rates or less expensive than other fire departments]. We’re always pushing the envelope. I’ve only been the chief for a year and a half. We’ve been pushing the envelope on line-item for medical supplies every year.”
The most emotional discussion of the evening concerned an ordinance that would amend the City Code in regards to South 27th St. between Oak and Wilson. Many were opposed to making the street a one-way street, despite the fact that it is not wide enough to accommodate cars approaching one another from opposite directions, while others said that it was necessary to ensure the safety of pedestrians and pets who walk upon the sidewalk-deprived street.
Though a study found that cars approaching one another on 27th street was a veritable rarity, City Engineer Marcus Maurer recommended it be turned into a one-way road. In the end, the Council voted against the one-way option, but approved lowering the speed limit on the street to 25 mph.
Several rezoning ordinances were approved unanimously, one turning property at 2335 East Margaret Ave. from residential to business so an office could be built. Another rezoned 602 S. 7th St. so it could be transformed from a former funeral home to a bed and breakfast. Property at 3000 Fenwood Ave. was rezoned from industrial to residential to that the owner could sell the property, and 1242 N. 13th St. was rezoned from a light industrial area to make room for a single-family dwelling.
Councilman Todd Nation voted against a rezoning ordinance that would rezone 1930 South Center Street from a residential area so that it could be turned into a botox clinic, due to concerns that parking would become an issue. The ordinance will be revisited again at the Council’s next regularly scheduled meeting on Oct. 6.
Two appropriations totaling $10,556 for the demolition of unsafe buildings were also approved.
Prior to the meeting, the Council conducted a public hearing to consider the city’s budget. Members of the public were invited to offer comments on the budget, but no one in attendance rose to spoke, so the hearing was abruptly adjourned. The Council will have two special meetings, on Monday and Tuesday of next week, to further consider budgetary issues.
David Kronke can be reached at 812-231-4232 or at david.kronke@tribstar.com.
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