Pickerington patients may face ambulance fees

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The Violet Township Fire Department may soon begin billing for ambulance runs according to a proposal made by Violet Township Fire Chief Kenn Taylor to Pickerington City Council on July 17.

If implemented, the department’s emergency response would remain unchanged. However, once the hospital admits the township’s patient, a third-party company would bill that patient’s insurance or Medicare.

In Fairfield County, Amanda and Lancaster already have similar systems in place. The Violet Township Fire Department currently receives funding through tax levies.

 

"We don’t get any money from (Violet Township’s) general fund," Taylor said.

Residents without insurance will not receive a bill, however non-residents without insurance will receive a bill. If a non-resident does not pay the bill, they will be sent a second bill, then a third.  

If the non-resident does not pay the third bill, the fire department would write-off the loss.

The department estimates the income would be $800,000 a year during which time the ambulances would transport approximately 2,000 people.

Councilwoman Cristie Hammond expressed concern for those who lack insurance or for individuals for whom insurance would not apply.  Her daughter has epilepsy and insurance companies refuse to cover ambulance transport when she has a seizure.

Taylor said his largest fear would be a person who refused help because they didn’t have insurance.

The department plans to host a public meeting in which Violet Township residents may express their opinions, but no date is set.

"We’re looking for input," Taylor said.  "We want to hear the good, the bad and the ugly."

Impact fee legislation

At its July 17 meeting, council moved closer to implementing guidelines for impact fee exemptions.

Mayor David Shaver requested earlier this summer that council stop waiving impact fees without an established set of criteria in place regarding such exemptions.

"The mayor asked us to make very clear who’s in and who’s out," Councilman Jeff Fix said.

In response, council designed criteria for businesses requesting impact fee waivers. The projected payroll of an applicant must exceed $1 million with more than 20 employees. Additionally, the city must recover the value of the waiver from income tax revenues within 18 months.

 

Residential and retail developments would not be considered.

If a business meets these requirements, it must complete an application process that would include a public hearing at which it would plead its case before council.

Development Director Tim Hansley said the applicants must provide payroll data to the city for a due diligence check.  For new companies or small businesses with expansion plans, council would have to grant the waiver on faith or issue the exemption once they meet the payroll requirements.

They can come back when they have 30 employees and $1 million in payroll, according to Hansley.

 

"If you produce it, come back later.  There is always an element of believing what they say.  You can’t guarantee success, you have to do it on faith," said Hansley.

The ordinance as currently written does not include a penalty for companies that fail to meet their promised payroll, Hansley said.

Once a business completes the proposed application process, it may still be denied an exemption.  One reason may be that the applicant received a different incentive to move to Pickerington.

"It’s not automatic when asked," Fix said.

The flexibility of council to deny a waiver does not go against the mayor’s request for guidelines. The mayor was concerned with "wide-open generalities."

The mayor could not attend the meeting to comment directly.

Other news

•Council approved a $775,000 engineering contract for the building of a new sewer plant.

•Council also rezoned 0.709 acres at 490 Hill Road (the house beside the self-storage facility) from residential to commercial.  Hansley said the property owner indicated his neighbors would soon request the same type of rezoning.

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