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Costly Increases to Ambulance Rates Did Not Pass At City Council Meeting

Apr 12, 2017

Ambulance fees in Bethel will not go up after a proposed increase was defeated Tuesday night on a three to one vote by Bethel City Council with only four of the seven members present.
Credit Dean Swope/KYUK

Ambulance fees in Bethel will not go up after a proposed increase was defeated Tuesday night on a three to one vote by Bethel City Council with only four of the seven members present. 

Bethel resident Dave Trantham told Council members that he was not pleased with the prospect of an increase in the charge for basic life support services from $450 to $1,287. 

"I’m a retired senior citizen; I can’t afford," says Trantham. "I’m not eligible for Medicaid, or social security, or Medicare. I don’t know if I got sick if I could. I’d probably have somebody take to the hospital on a taxi." 

Fire Chief Bill Howell said that an analysis showed that Bethel is losing over $900,000 a year on ambulance services. Howell said that a number of people have failed to pay the fee due to poverty.

"Typically, most ambulance services take all those people that don’t pay and they increase the fees on the people that will," says Howell, "and that’s into the private insurance companies."

Howell says that to a small degree they have done this in the past, but Mayor Rick Robb said that he thinks more discussion is needed on the issue and voted "no" on the increase.

The Council did say "yes" to Bethel's first dog park. Land has been designated for that purpose and will be developed depending on funding. The park will be located next to the Public Health Nursing building off of Chief Eddie Hoffman Highway.

The Council also approved the contract for dredging and restoring the sewage lagoon. KYUK will have more on the details of the winning bid and project start date for this summer.

Council members present Tuesday night were Mayor Robb, Leif Albertson, Norman Ayagalria, and Alisha Welch.   

Not attending the meeting were Vice Mayor Byron Maczynski and members Nikki Hoffman and Fred Watson. 

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