Riley County informed Pottawatomie County officials Thursday afternoon during a monthly joint meeting between the two governments, along with the City of Manhattan, that they would not consolidate ambulance services.
The meeting was held inside the Riley County Commission Chambers in Manhattan.
Earlier in the day at the close of Riley County’s commission meeting, Riley County EMS and Ambulance Director David Adams told commissioners he was aware Pottawatomie County favored consolidation.
“They’ve approached me twice, now, about, you know, do we want to talk about consolidating?” Adams told the board. “I’ve told them flat out, I’m against it.”
On Oct. 31, contracts for both counties with Via Christi in Manhattan ends.
Riley County commissioners voted to terminate its contract with the hospital on May 25 after Via Christi informed both counties in April that it would raise administrative fees by $200,000 for 2018.
Pottawatomie County followed.
Both counties already own their respective ambulances and have their own personnel. The contract with Via Christi involved billing and collection.
On Oct. 5, Riley County approved pay structures and other budgetary items as it transitions those services to the county.
Thursday, commissioners told Pottawatomie County officials it planned to keep all its ambulance services in the county and said Riley County taxpayers have been subsidizing ambulance use when called for in Pottawatomie County, especially in the more populated southwest corner near Manhattan, because Pottawatomie County doesn’t have its own ambulance station in that region.
“Riley County commissioners have been concerned about the amount of time and ambulance runs we furnish for the western end of Pottawatomie County, and realizing that some of that money comes out of our taxpayer pockets in Riley County,” Riley County Commission Chairman Ron Wells told KMAN after the meeting.
Wells said Riley County will still assist Pottawatomie County as needed in case of emergency situations when extra backup is necessary.
Pottawatomie County Commissioner Travis Altenhofen said he understood Riley County’s perspective and hopes the counties continue to work together during the transition.
“I do believe that we as a county do have that responsibility and should compensate on a fair basis what we do consume in terms of ambulance service,” he said after the meeting. “And in long term, it probably is something we need to look at as a long term plan in taking care of our entire county.”
Wells said dialogue between the two counties will continue into the spring on the issue.
Pottawatomie County Commissioner Pat Weixelman declined to comment after the meeting. During it, he questioned the seriousness of partnerships that have long been encouraged among all three entities. Fellow Pottawatomie commissioner Dee McKee was absent.