Colfax not happy about EMS grants and equipment purchases

By LeAnn R. Ralph

COLFAX —  Members of the Colfax Village Board do not seem very happy about the Colfax EMS Association’s efforts to procure grants to pay for new equipment for the Colfax Rescue Squad.

The most recent case in point is a $4,000 grant awarded to the EMS Association to purchase a back-up generator for the rescue squad building on Railroad Avenue.

Jessica Erickson and Travis Borreson, president and vice-president of the Colfax EMS Association, appeared before the Colfax Village Board at the November 12 meeting to talk about the grant and the plans to purchase a back-up generator.

The generator also was a topic for discussion at the Colfax Rescue Squad’s annual meeting August 30 and was included in list of purchases for 2012 under the rescue squad’s ten-year plan.

The rescue squad’s annual meeting is open to the public.

Those who attended the rescue squad’s annual meeting were informed that the EMS Association intended to pay for the generator that was listed in the ten-year plan and that was scheduled for purchase in 2012.

At the November 12 meeting, Village Trustee Chris Olson informed Erickson and Borreson that before they write grant applications for equipment, they must come to the village board first to seek permission and to make sure that the equipment fits in with the village board’s plans.

The Colfax Rescue Squad only rents the building from the village, Chris Olson said.

At recent budget discussions, several village board members also have not seemed very happy about the two Life Stat machines (hands free cardio-pulmonary resuscitation) that were paid for by a grant from the Bremer Foundation and by funds from the ambulance bills that were paid through the state’s Tax Refund Intercept Program (TRIP).

Erickson noted that members of the EMS Association had discussed the generator with Don Knutson, Colfax Rescue Squad director.

Dunn Energy, Woods Run, and the EOG Resources sand processing plant in Chippewa Falls donated all of the money for the generator, Erickson said.

Chris Olson said it was not acceptable to talk to the director of the rescue squad about paying for equipment purchases with grants.

“You have to communicate with us first,” Olson insisted.

Gary Stene, village president, agreed that communicating with the village board is a priority.

“We do not want to discourage you,” he said, but went on to say that proposals for equipment purchases should be brought to the attention of Jackie Ponto, village administrator clerk-treasurer, so the item can be put on the agenda for village board consideration and approval.

“EMS Association purchases” was listed as an agenda item for the November 12 Colfax Village Board meeting.

Other village board members had little to say, so it was difficult to determine whether they agreed with the idea that the EMS Association should focus their priorities on communicating with the village board rather than placing their priorities on countless hours of fund-raising to purchase equipment that will benefit the residents of all nine municipalities served by the Colfax Rescue Squad.

The funds for the back-up generator must be spent by the end of the year, Erickson said.

The generator is expected to be installed by the end of November, Borreson said.

The Colfax Village Board eventually approved a motion to accept the donation from the Colfax EMS Association to pay for the generator.

Municipalities

The Village of Colfax is not the only municipality that provides financial support for the rescue squad.

All nine of the municipalities served by the Colfax Rescue Squad pay a per capita fee per year to support the rescue squad.

For 2013, the following per capita amounts have been proposed:

• Village of Colfax — $18,546

• Village of Elk Mound  —  $14,164

• Village of Wheeler — $5,627

• Town of Colfax — $19,598

• Town of Elk Mound  — $29,364

• Town of Grant — $6,241

• Town of Otter Creek  — $8,101

• Town of Sand Creek — $9,120

• Town of Tainter — $19,007

Of the nine municipalities served by the Colfax Rescue Squad, three of them pay more per year than the Village of Colfax — the Town of Colfax, the Town of Elk Mound and the Town of Tainter.

According to the 2010 census, there are 7,977 people living in the area served by the Colfax Rescue Squad.

The Village of Colfax’s population makes up 15 percent of rescue squad’s service area, and the village’s per capita fee is 14 percent of the total per capita.

The per capita fee paid by the Village of Colfax makes up 4 percent of the entire Colfax Rescue Squad’s revenue budget of $434,988.

Funding for the rescue squad comes from per capita fees from the municipalities, patient charges for ambulance services, money from the state and donations in the form of grants and donations from individuals.

Invoicing for patient services is the largest source of revenue for the rescue squad.

Out of the 426 ambulance runs from September of 2011 to August of 2012, the Village of Colfax accounted for 27 percent of the runs.

The Town of Colfax, which pays about $1,000 more per year than the village for the ambulance service, accounted for 16 percent of the runs.

The Town of Elk Mound, which pays $11,000 more than the village, accounted for 7 percent of the runs.

The Town of Tainter, which pays about $500 more per year than the village for that portion of the township served by the Colfax Rescue Squad, also accounted for 7 percent of the runs.