Accounts established for new ambulance revenues

Milford’s aldermen recently approved creation of two special accounts for ambulance revenues and expenditures. The accounts will let the Milford Fire Department deposit funds paid for ambulance services and then spend those funds on firefighting expenses.

The city stands to bring in another $1 million or more in revenue each year, thanks to a change in legislation that now allows Milford to provide ambulance transportation for residents to area hospitals. The mayor said 25% of the money, up to $500,000 per year, will go into the new fire department account, and the rest will go into the city’s general revenue fund.

In the past, American Medical Response (AMR) held the license for transporting Milford residents to the hospital. After about three years of lobbying for state legislative change and working with the state Department of Health, Milford secured the right to transport patients in city ambulances and therefore bill insurance companies and/or the patients for that service.

This is the second layer of ambulance service the city has taken back from AMR. In 2013, Milford’s fire department took over paramedic services from AMR. That change netted about $400,000 a year for the city.

This change is expected to bring in even more revenue. Mayor Ben Blake has said it could be as much as $2 million per year, and it will help offset taxes. But the mayor said it’s just as important that Milford residents will be getting better ambulance service. The mayor and others here have said that Milford’s emergency responders can get to an emergency in town more quickly than AMR could in many cases.

Blake said Milford’s firefighters “are the finest and bravest in the nation” and its EMS is second to none.

Providing the service means the city can bill the resident, or more likely the resident’s insurance company, for the service, as opposed to AMR sending the bill and receiving the payment.

A basic ambulance ride to the hospital, one that does not require advanced life support, could cost about $500. Advanced life support services cost more.

With extra revenue, the mayor also anticipates some extra costs. He said the city has two ambulances and will want to buy a third. Some additional overtime can be expected, too.

Although the Board of Aldermen approved creation of the new accounts unanimously when it met earlier this month, the aldermen did have some questions.

Alderman Anthony Giannattasio (R-1) asked if the accounting should be set up as an enterprise fund, which is a self-sustaining fund. The city marina’s finances are set up as an enterprise fund, meaning that money brought in from boaters who pay to use the marina pays for marina operations rather than tax dollars funding the operations.

Down the road, the accounting for the ambulance services may be set up similarly.

City Finance Director Peter Erodici said criteria for an enterprise fund is not set in stone. He plans to review the matter with city auditors once it is determined how much money the ambulance services will generate each year.