A contract Shawnee County (Kansas) Commissioners approved Thursday reduces the subsidy the county pays for ambulance service – which had already dropped considerably in recent years – by more than $280,000 annually.
Commissioners Shelly Buhler, Bob Archer and Kevin Cook voted 3-0 to approve the agreement.
It calls for the county to pay subsidies totaling $350,000 annually to American Medical Response to provide ambulance services throughout the county from Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 31, 2021.
That includes the county’s paying $50,000 annually to AMR in exchange for moving its dispatching services to Topeka from Independence, Mo.
Archer said the agreement illustrates the dramatic savings for taxpayers that can be achieved when the county solicits bids for services.
The county this year is subsidizing AMR to the tune of $632,798, and previously provided subsidies of $757,798 for 2015, $857,798 for 2014, $1,057,798 for 2013 and $1,055,727 for 2012.
AMR and its predecessor, Medevac MidAmerica, have been the only ambulance service providers for Shawnee County since 1983. Commissioners last year directed the county’s Ambulance Advisory Board to seek bids from companies wishing to provide the county ambulance service. Bids were accepted and examined before that board recommended contracting with AMR.
County counselor Rich Eckert told commissioners Thursday that the agreement with AMR was probably one of the most important contracts any of them would approve during their time on the commission.
Commissioners also voted 3-0 Thursday to defer until their July 14 meeting a planned discussion regarding the county’s agreement with the Topeka RoadRunners hockey team, which enables it to lease property at the Kansas Expocentre.
The county on June 16 had discussed evicting the team, then deferred action for two weeks.
Eckert told commissioners Thursday that while he had been pessimistic June 16 about the chances the county and the RoadRunners would successfully resolve the issues involved, he and team officials subsequently had “some very good dialogue, actually better than I thought we would.”
Eckert said he now felt “cautiously optimistic.” He asked commissioners to allow more time for discussion.