OXFORD — The City Council appropriated $65,000 to Oxford Emergency Services Tuesday night, the latest in a string of funding requests from the emergency service.
The appropriation was one of 11 items on a consent agenda approved in a single vote by the council during its meeting. That vote was preceded by a work session discussion about requests for aid from the city made by the agency, with some council members indicating that Oxford EMS intended to initiate cost-saving measures, working with the city through a board set up to manage the city’s ambulance services. Oxford EMS is currently the only licensed emergency medical services provider in the city.
The city provided the agency $113,281, drawn from the city’s general fund, in January. Past reports in The Anniston Star indicate the city gave EMS $120,000 in 2018, and the FY19 budget may have included a $25,000 outlay for the organization, a number cited by council members during budget meetings last year, though the figure didn’t appear on the finalized budget.
Council President Chris Spurlin said he had been in contact with the board. Some of the financial issues come from calls that turn out to be non-emergencies, which don’t result in transportation to a hospital. The agency doesn’t charge to respond to emergency calls, only its ambulance services. When a heart attack turns out to be a false alarm, for instance, the company is essentially working for free.
Councilman Mike Henderson suggested that Oxford EMS create a service fee for stops. He agreed it would be an imperfect solution when Spurlin said it would be difficult to decide who was liable for those charges if a call was initiated on behalf of someone else, or if a passerby called in about a car wreck that had no injuries.
Spurlin asked Councilman Steven Waits, the council’s liaison with Oxford EMS, if he would get specifics about what the agency planned to cut costs or otherwise offset their losses, and Waits agreed.
During its meeting and work session, the City Council also:
— Declared equipment surplus from the Oxford Performing Arts Center.
— Authorized the purchase of property at 226 Ross St., located beside Dogwood Trails Memorial Gardens, for $30,000. Spurlin said in the work session that the land was purchased to make it ready for an eventual expansion of the cemetery.
— Accepted a bid from Sunny King Ford in the amount of $62,000 for two 2019 F-150 Super Cab “Styleside” trucks.
— Placed liens on various properties for work that included grass cutting, demolition and other nuisance abatements.
— Awarded a bid for Christmas lighting electrical work at Choccolocco Park in advance of the first drive-through light show at the park for $331,500 to Littleton Electric Services, an Oxford-based electrical engineering company.
Spurlin said during the work session that the figure was higher than council members had predicted, but the work includes a one-time setup of electrical equipment at the site that will also allow for other events throughout the year. He noted that using generators for the Christmas event had been explored as an option, but the cost would be about the same and need to be spent again the next year.
— Heard from Bill Bunn, city beautification board member, about new city welcome signs to be built beside fire stations on Bynum Cutoff Road, Alabama 21 and Dearmanville Road. The signs are large, stone structures with a central plaque of the city logo and a welcome message.