By Jeff Gallatin
City Council officials decided to take a look at ambulance fees past and present and sent a proposed increase in the fees back to the Public Safety, Health and Welfare Committee.
After Safety Committee Chairwoman Angela Williamson told council at its Nov. 19 meeting that concerns had been raised about the fees and related issues, council agreed to have the committee take another look at the issue. It was scheduled to do so last night.
In the proposed increase, the fee for ambulance runs would go from $450 to $500 and be billed to insurance companies for the runs.
After the council meeting, Williamson said looking at charges for new ambulance fees is a good thing, but said some of the concerns cited stemmed from noncollection of old unpaid fees.
“We could gain a lot of money just by making some headway on the amount of uncollected ambulance fees,” she said.
Finance Director Carrie Copfer said when contacted later the amount of uncollected fees was more than $200,000 from bills that go back several years.
Copfer said the proposed fee increase would bring North Olmsted more in line with other cities, saying it would help defray the cost of the ambulance runs.
Williamson said she would like the safety committee and council as a whole to look at potential ways of collecting some of the unpaid fees. She said one avenue worth looking into was a program by the state attorney general’s office that helps collect those unpaid fees.
She said the program does not cost the city anything.
Currently the city finance department handles the collection process internally. Copfer said it has been reviewing other potential options as well. There had been a proposal by former law Director Jim Dubelko several years ago to have a collections agency handle collecting unpaid fees for the city, but the council at the time rejected the plan.