Christiana hears financial plea from ambulance company
BY MARCELLA PEYRE-FERRY, Correspondent
Tuesday's Christiana Borough Council meeting began with a presentation by representatives from the Christiana Ambulance Company.
A year earlier, the group had come to warn council that it could be back looking for financial help from the municipalities in its service area, and now that time has come.
Ambulance company treasurer Herb Hogg told council that the company operated at a significant loss in 2011 and 2012.
"We have a severe lack of volunteers and that has gotten worse over a number of years," he said, adding that the ambulance company has worked hard to cut expenses, but there is a limit to how much can be cut and still keep the ambulance in operation.
The ambulance company's main location just outside the borough is in operation 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In addition, a second ambulance based in Bart Township is manned from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. every day.
The number of memberships also has become an issue, with only 40 percent of the residential households joining. Hogg proposed eliminating the membership system and replacing it with a $50-per-household annual fee.
"We are hoping we can find a way for the municipalities to do it either out of their general funds or a local services tax," he said.
"It's always hard for us to come and ask, but we really need to do something, because if we don't, we're probably going to go under in another couple of years," ambulance company supervisor William Conrad said.
The ambulance company said it responded to 1,088 calls last year, with the greatest percentage of them coming from Salisbury Township. Christiana had the second-highest call volume, with 231 calls coming from the borough.
Conrad estimated that about half of the calls out of the borough come from the Harrison Senior Living. He told council that the nursing home does make a contribution to the ambulance, but the ambulance receives less in insurance payments for transporting Medicare patients than from other insurance plans.
"They (Harrison Senior Living) need to step up to the plate. Our residents should not be paying for them," Councilman Kirk Nields said.
Council President Robin Coffroth said that the borough's budget is approved in November and there is no money available in 2013. With 300 households in the borough, the ambulance company's request amounts to $15,000.
Coffroth suggested that they should get together with the other townships and Atglen Borough to discuss the situation.
"I would want to know that the other ones were going to do it too," he said.
In other business, council appointed Joan Hirst to serve on the borough planning commission for a five-year term.
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