According to a report from Richmond-Times Dispatch, the Richmond (VA) Ambulance Authority (RAA) may see its annual budget slashed by $1 million by the mayor’s administration.
RAA CEO Chip Decker said the Authority requires more funds so it can hire more emergency responders and buy more protective medical equipment.
The RAA, founded in 1991 after a prior ambulance service encountered significant financial problems, is a quasi-governmental agency that responds to emergency 911 calls.
With fewer dollars budgeted to the RAA, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney’s administration has suggested the agency begin leasing ambulances instead of buying them to save money. Decker and other RAA and city officials said that will save money next year but will cost more in subsequent years because of the increase in leasing costs.
Unlike Richmond’s fire and rescue departments, which are managed by their localities, RAA operates as a business with its own professional staff and about $20 million each year needed in operational expenditures.
Council members Stephanie Lynch, Andreas Addison and Cynthia Newbille have since proposed cutting the authority’s budget further to cover the cost of council-proposed budget increases.
Decker said many authority employees are working 48 hours a week regularly; the RAA is hoping to bring this number down to 40 hours, so additional funding is needed to hire more staff and give raises that will prevent turnover, which increased to record highs during the pandemic.
RAA Spokesman Mark Tenia said the average charge for transporting someone to a local hospital is $533, with an average amount actually collected from each patient coming to $230.
The RAA released a letter last week asking the city council not to enact the budget changes, saying that further budget cuts may require an increase in service rates, potentially affecting its cash reserves.