OLEAN – Residents of the City of Olean will see an increase in the amount paid for ambulance services.
“What we are looking to do is amend the ambulance rates to a more current fee system,” Ward 4 Alderman Matthew J. Keller said after Tuesday night’s meeting of the Common Council.
One of the greatest concerns, according to the billing company, was comparable alignment with surrounding municipalities, Keller said, adding that city rates had not been reviewed for some time and were in need of these increases.
“The last time these were amended was 2009,” Keller told Council members. “We are looking to increase the mileage rate from $14 per mile to $15, increase non-emergency [Basic Life Support] from $450 to $650, increase the Advanced Life Support 1 from $590 to $850, increase the Advanced Life Support 2 rating from $900 to $1,050. These rates … were recommended to us from our billing company. [The company] feels it will get us more in line with what other municipalities in the area are charging.”
Casting the only vote against the increase, Ward 6 Alderman Nate Smith expressed concern about whether the recommendation came from the Fire Department or whether it was strictly from the insurance company. The rate coming from the department would be one thing, Smith said, but having it come from the billing company would make him “a little antsy.”
“The billing company is very expensive,” Smith said. “The average bill from them is $7,300 a month. If they are the ones suggesting the increase in rates, I would see a bit of conflict of interest.”
In response, Fire Chief Robert Bell said the increase in rates came form both entities.
The rate increase “has been brought to our attention that we haven’t done anything since 2009,” Bell said. “It was their suggestion to bring it to the Council to consider.
“Their rates are not based on a percentage of charges, so there is nothing to be gained there. We haven’t reviewed our rates in a while out of kindness to health services departments.”
Olean’s rates, Bell added, are “lower than in many areas.”
Mayor Linda L. Witte agreed. “We are lower than Great Valley, Ellicottville, Allegany and Gowanda,” she said. “I would not think insurance premiums would be impacted.”
The next Council meeting will be held March 26 in City Court. The Committee of the Whole meeting starts at 6:30 p.m., with the regular meeting immediately afterward.