By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — For the fourth year in a row, the per capita charge to villages and townships for the Colfax Rescue Squad will remain at $16.17.
The proposed budget for 2016 will be $450,102, compared to a budget of $439,121 for 2015, according to the budget presented by Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad, at the annual meeting August 20.
The biggest change in the proposed 2016 budget is going from volunteer EMTs to part-time EMTs, including two 30-hour per week EMTs, with the increased personnel costs covered by an increase in the base run rate of $70, Knutson said.
According to the proposed budget, the increase in wages for 2016 would amount to $34,440, along with an increase in retirement benefits, training and payroll taxes of $8,000.
Under the proposed 2016 budget, a basic life support ambulance run for a resident of the district would be $723.72 — which compares to $653.72 for this year.
A basic life support ambulance run for a non-resident of the district would be $876.25, compared to $806.25 for this year.
An advanced life support ambulance run for a resident of the district would be $854.47, compared to $784.47 for this year.
An advanced life support ambulance run for a non-resident would be $1006.99, compared to $936.99 for this year.
If the ambulance is called out but the patient refuses transport, the charge is $196.12 for 2016, the same as for 2015.
The Colfax Rescue Squad went out on nearly 450 ambulance runs in 2014.
In 1986, the Colfax Rescue Squad went out on 200 calls.
The per capita rate of $16.17 for each of the villages and municipalities in the Colfax Rescue Squad’s service area has remained the same since 2013.
Mark Halpin, village trustee, asked whether the per capita rates were remaining stable in other ambulance districts.
The per capita rates have remained fairly steady for all of the ambulance services, Knutson said.
Increasing the rate charges means the users of the service pay the increased cost, rather than increasing the per capita fee so that the taxpayers pay the increased cost, he said.
For 2016, the proposed per capita fee for the Village of Colfax will be $18,207, representing a $16.17 decrease over 2015.
The proposed per capita for the Town of Colfax will be $20,293, representing a $226 increase.
The increases in total per capita fees reflect increases or decreases in population, Knutson noted.
The proposed per capita for the Village of Elk Mound will be $14,148, representing a $48 decrease.
The per capita for 2016 for the Town of Elk Mound is proposed at $30,221, representing a $291 increase.
The proposed per capita for the Town of Grant will be $6,290, representing a $48 increase.
The proposed per capita for the Town of Otter Creek will remain the same as 2015 at $8,020.
The Town of Sand Creek will pay a proposed per capita of $9,362, representing a nearly $81 increase.
The proposed per capita for the Town of Tainter will be $19,339, representing a nearly $81 increase.
Tainter’s per capita is based on 50 percent of the township because half of Tainter is in the Colfax ambulance district and half is in the Menomonie district.
The Village of Wheeler will pay a proposed per capita for 2016 of $5,610, representing a $97 decrease over 2015.
The total per capita proposed for 2016 is $131,494, representing overall an increase of $565.
The proposed 2016 budget includes $104,000 in uncollectible debt, which compares to $114,000 for 2015.
Elton Christopherson, chair of the Town of Elk Mound, wondered about the bad debt for the rescue squad.
Some of the bad debt is because of Medicare reimbursement rates, Knutson said.
The Colfax Rescue Squad can only collect the approved rate for Medicare, which is not as much as the per-run charge. A certain portion of the ambulance call rates charged to Medicare are automatically uncollectible, he said.
A percentage of the bad debt is turned over to the state’s Tax Refund Intercept Program (TRIP) and is eventually collected, Knutson said.
Under TRIP, the rescue squad submits the debt to the state, and when the person who owes the debt files a state income tax return, if there is a refund, it is automatically paid to the Colfax Rescue Squad instead of going to the person who filed the state tax return.
The Colfax Rescue Squad also uses Tri-State Adjustments to collect debts, Knutson said, adding that he is willing, too, to set up a payment plan for people who have no insurance or for whom the insurance does not cover the entire cost of the ambulance call.
Of the nearly 450 ambulance calls for the Colfax Rescue Squad in 2014, 143 of those runs were in the Village of Colfax.
Christopherson asked why Colfax has so many ambulance runs.
Colfax Health and Rehabilitation Center accounts for most of the ambulance runs in Colfax, Knutson said.
The rescue squad goes out to the nursing home usually two or sometimes three times each week, he said.
In 2014, the Town of Colfax accounted for 50 ambulance runs.
The Village of Elk Mound had 36 runs, compared to 40 runs for the Village of Wheeler in 2014.
The Town of Elk Mound accounted for 54 runs in 2014.
The Town of Grant had 15 runs, while the Town of Otter Creek had 27 runs.
The Town of Tainter had 32 runs, while the Town of Sand Creek had 27 runs.
The Colfax Rescue Squad also had 19 ambulance calls to Menomonie, and five ambulance calls to “other places.”
A little more than half of the ambulance runs, 54 percent, go to Mayo Eau Claire, while 23 percent of the ambulance calls go to Mayo Menomonie. A total of 7 percent of the calls go to Mayo Bloomer, and 14 percent go to Sacred Heart Hospital.
The Colfax Village Board must approve the 2016 budget for the Colfax Rescue Squad.