Ambulance costs rise

By BOB JOHNSON
Register City Editor

Allen County commissioners were told Tuesday morning it would be more economical if living quarters for county ambulances crews were included within a structure built to house the ambulances.
Jason Nelson, ambulance director, said remodeling part of the old United Electric Cooperative building for ambulance crews living quarters would cost $100,000 to $150,000. The county paid $185,000 for the North State Street building and has $75,000 invested in a lot along U.S. 54 it previously purchased as an ambulance station site.
It now seems likely commissioners will spend at least $500,000 by the time the State Street building is remodeled and added to. Remodeling the building to include living quarters would likely ratchet up costs more than putting them in with ambulances, Nelson predicted. The intention from the start has been to build a separate structure to house ambulances.
Regardless of what is decided about ambulance crew quarters, the North State Street building will be refitted for 911 emergency dispatch services and also hold an emergency operations center and training areas for a variety of emergency services.
Commissioners last week voted to issue bonds of up to $400,000 to prepare the site for its new role. Earlier this month commissioners approved a 12 percent increase in the county’s property tax levy. It rose by 6.867 mills to 64.092 mills.
With only two commissioners available Tuesday — Dick Works was gone for the day — Nelson said his intention was to discuss the living quarters next week.
“I’m glad you brought it up today,” Commissioner Gary McIntosh said. “Now I have a week to think about it and will be better prepared to comment.”
Discussion of the building cropped up when Sheriff Tom Williams told commissioners there were problems with mobile communications in the county: deputies are unable to communicate in some spots. He said refitting the tower on North State Street with new cable and tweaking other parts of communications would solve the problem.
Williams has received one bid for the upgrade and expects to hear from other providers by next week. The work is expected to cost less than $15,000, a sum available in the 911 equipment fund. The tower will be inspected to ensure it is fit before any work is done.
Williams noted county and city personnel associated with 911 and emergency services were working together to prepare plans to shift dispatch services to the State Street site.
The sheriff said inmates and jail employees spruced up the lawn and pruned evergreens that had overgrown flower beds outside the building.
McIntosh asked Bill King, director of Public Works, to inspect the asphalt parking lot and report what he thought was needed to make “it look good and be as serviceable as it can be.”