New fire chief says regular reviews would be best way to avoid major increases in service charges
At the outset of last week’s Village Board meeting, Brian Weyker was sworn in as the new chief of the Fredonia Fire Department.
Weyker succeeds Brian Schommer, who led the department for 22 years.
Moments later, Weyker asked that the trustees approve an increase in the department’s ambulance rates.
The irony of the timing was not lost on him.
“I hope it doesn’t make me look bad. I come in and the first thing I do is raise rates,” Weyker said after the meeting.
The ambulance fee hikes were recommended by the department’s billing service, LifeQuest. The last rate adjustment was made in 2011.
Based on the average rates charged by nearby ambulance services, Weyker said, LifeQuest estimated the local department lost out on about $23,000 in revenue last year.
The department handled 175 ambulance transports last year.
“This was an unsolicited recommendation from LifeQuest,” he said, adding that if regular reviews of ambulance fees are made, the department could avoid the kind of significant hikes that were proposed.
Under the new rates, the cost of ambulance service with basic life support will increase from $425 to $525 for village residents and from $500 to $600 for non-residents.
The cost of service with advanced life support will increase from $525 to $625 for residents, and from $625 to $725 for non-residents.
Even with the rate hikes, the department’s ambulance charges are comparable to surrounding communities.
According to LifeQuest, the area average cost for basic life support service is $545, and $655 for advanced life support.
“There is no reason we should be behind the pack. We should be at least average,” Village President Don Dohrwardt said.
Trustees unanimously approved the recommended rates, with the qualifier that the charges be reviewed at least every two years to avoid large hikes in the future.
The board also retroactively approved the purchase of 12 new Unication pagers for firefighters from General Communications in Madison. The transaction was spread over two years so that money from last year’s and this year’s budget could be tapped and that the items could be purchased at a discounted price.
By buying the pagers at the end of last year, the department saved $1,200.
Trustees were told about the purchase last month, but could not take action because the item was not included on the board agenda. That was addressed on last week’s meeting notice.
“It would be nice to approve this, since we have the pagers already,” Dohrwardt said.
In a final fire department item, trustees approved renewing an agreement with Ozaukee County for the use of the fire station meeting room as a senior meal site.