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By LeAnn R. Ralph
COLFAX — The Colfax Village Board has approved a budget for the Colfax Rescue Squad of $619,484 for 2024.
At the annual meeting of the Colfax Rescue Squad August 30, this is the budget recommended by the representatives of municipalities who attended the annual meeting, said Jeff Prince, village president, at the Colfax Village Board’s September 11 meeting.
The Colfax Rescue Squad is not an ambulance district and is owned by the Village of Colfax, so the village board is responsible for approving the annual budget for the Rescue Squad.
This year, however, the representatives for the municipalities served by the Colfax Rescue Squad were asked for their opinion about the proposed budgets for 2024.
Don Knutson, director of the Colfax Rescue Squad, had provided four different options for the 2024 budget which contained differences in staffing levels.
The 2024 budget approved by the village board includes money for four full-time EMTs along with Knutson for a total of five full-time EMTs.
The 2024 budget also includes $2 an hour pay increases so that an EMT-Basic will start out at $12 an hour, an EMT-Advanced will begin at $13 per hour, and the full-time EMTs will begin at $15.50 per hour.
Readers should note there are fast-food restaurants that pay high school students more than the EMTs are paid, even after the pay raises.
All ambulance services statewide and nationwide are experiencing difficulties in finding enough EMTs to provide 24 hour service.
Many municipalities also are experiencing difficulty in funding their ambulance services.
Knutson is working as many as 150 hours a week to make sure the schedule is covered, Prince said.
Ambulance services are required by law to be staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days per year.
Option D ($619,484), with four full-time EMTs, is intended to allow Knutson to scale back some of the hours he is working, Prince said.
The budget includes a per capita increase for the municipalities served by the Colfax Rescue Squad from $27.52 this year to $40.02 in 2024.
The biennial state budget includes an increase in state-shared revenue for all municipalities.
The increase in shared revenue can only be spent on transportation, infrastructure and emergency services.
Of the municipalities served by the Colfax Rescue Squad, the Village of Colfax is expected to receive an additional $55,000 in shared revenue, while the Town of Colfax is expected to receive an additional $51,000, and the Village of Elk Mound is expected to receive an additional $46,500.
The Town of Elk Mound is expected to receive an additional $62,000 in shared revenue, while the Town of Grant is expected to receive an additional $36,000, and the Town of Otter Creek is expected to receive an additional $38,000.
The Town of Sand Creek is expected to receive an additional $40,000 in shared revenue, and the Town of Tainter is expecting an additional $74,000, while the Village of Wheeler is expecting an additional $35,000.
The per capita increases range from about $5,000 more for the Town of Grant (out of Grant’s additional $36,000 in shared revenue) to about $26,000 more for the Town of Elk Mound (out of the Town of Elk Mound’s $62,000 more in shared revenue).
Gary Stene, village trustee, asked about the possibility of Knutson providing a status report in 2024 after six months of operating on the Option D budget.
Knutson said he could provide a six-month status report.
The Colfax Village Board unanimously approved the budget of $619,484 for 2024 with the provision that the village board receive a status report at six months along with information on how well the use of four full-time EMTs is working to relieve some of the hours Knutson has been working.
In addition to Prince and Stene, voting in favor of the motion were village trustees Clint Best, Margaret Burcham, Carey Davis, Anne Jenson and Jen Rud.