Supervisors pull county out of Ambulance Council

Chickasaw County will leave intergovernmental body on June 30, 2021

The Chickasaw County Ambulance Council will have one less member midway through next year, thanks to a split vote by the Board of Supervisors on Monday.

Board members voted 3-2 to terminate its membership in the council that was formed in 1989 and to give the required 180 days notice after a relatively long discussion that grew contentious at times.

Board Chairman Jacob Hackman was joined by Tim Zoll and David Tilkes while Supervisors Jason Byrne and Steve Geerts, who serves as the chair of the Ambulance Council, voted against the motion.

“The current 28e I think all of us can agree,” Hackman said. “If anyone says it is working, I’d like to hear that.”

The ambulance issue — specifically how to fund it — has stirred controversy for several years and led the Board of Supervisors to file a lawsuit against the county’s cities in 2019 shortly after the board approved a two-year, $360,000 deal with the Chickasaw Ambulance Service because board members felt the county should not have to pay for the entire contract, one that expires on June 30, 2021.

In August, the supervisors approved a revised 28E agreement that gave the Ambulance Council a funding mechanism. It basically said the county would provide 40 percent of future contract costs and the cities — all of whom have a representative on the council — would divvy up the remaining 60 percent based on population. The new agreement also would give the governmental entities weighted votes, based on their population.

Hackman pointed out that only the city of New Hampton has responded to the supervisors’ revised agreement, but he added that the letter received from City Attorney Kevin Kennedy didn’t touch on any of the financial details.

New Hampton resident Rick Kramer blamed the lawsuit.

“When you’re getting sued by someone,” he said, “you’re not supposed to be doing a lot of talking to that person. … I think that poisoned it.”

Rick Holthaus, who will take over as the District 1 supervisor on Jan. 1, agreed with Kramer — pointing out that smaller cities in the county are “scared, they’re frightened" by the lawsuit.

— For more on this story, see the Dec. 17 Reporter and Dec. 22 Tribune

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