Attorney Sid Arismendez spoke for owners Gabriel Aleman and Mickie Achoa at the council meeting last week.
Arismendez reminded the council that the ambulance company has been providing the 911 emergency service for the city since 2006. At that time, the company was asked to step in and take over the service from Southern Cross Ambulance Service when that company stopped providing it.
“We accepted the offer with an agreement that we would finish the contract if we would be given a five-year contract beginning once the original contract between the City of Beeville and Southern Cross Ambulance concluded,” the attorney said. “Our contract was approved to run from February 2007 to February 2012.”
Arismendez reminded the council that in 2010 the city agreed to another extension so that the company could invest in the purchase of newer and more reliable ambulances and other equipment.
Since then the company has purchased $70,000 in upgraded heart monitors and other diagnostic tools.
“Since taking over the contract in 2006, we have never asked for any increase for rising fuel and other expenses, (although said increases are allowed to be reviewed and requested under the terms of the existing contract) other than our normal five percent increases as described in the contract,” Arismendez said.
He also pointed out that the company has provided between three and five ambulances to cover the city and at times as many as six units have been operating, even though the contract called for the company to provide two units at all times.
Then Arismendez read some impressive figures for the council members. He reminded them that the company is paid $396,000 a year for providing two ambulances.
Meanwhile, the City of Taft pays $482,289 for one ambulance; Live Oak County pays between $820,000 and $850,000 for two full-time ambulances and one daytime ambulance; Goliad County pays $900,000 a year for one full-time ambulance and one on-call unit; Karnes County pays $800,000 annually for one on-call ambulance; and Aransas County pays $840,000 to provide two full-time ambulances.
“Beeville Angel Care Ambulance Service, Inc. is asking for $58,000 per month to help offset cost and to reinvest in purchasing new ambulances,” Aleman said in a prepared statement read by Arismendez.
“With the increase in call volume, traffic and bad road conditions, our ambulances have taken a beating. Beeville Angel Care wants to ensure that we maintain state-of-the-art equipment, to include the latest technology and developments in the ambulance industry.”
“We have never asked for any increases since 2007, but we can no longer ignore the expenses, the significant increases in call volume as well as the ever-rising fuel costs.”
The statement included some interesting figures, including the fact that the $3,000 monthly fuel expenses the company paid in 2006 had risen to $14,000 a month.
Aleman said fuel costs alone are running $6,000-$7,000 every two weeks.
In 2006, the company answered 2,000 calls a year. That has increased to more than 6,000 calls a year.
Also, the company has had to write off $4,199,303.25 in uncollected bills and charges.
Aleman asked the council to consider that their office has used private funds to upgrade its radio facilities and provide local law enforcement offices with backup dispatching equipment if the agencies’ equipment should fail.
The owner said his company also provides other backup radio services, and it has trained first responder personnel in all the volunteer fire departments in the county at no cost to them by using a grant the company itself obtained.
Aleman personally told council members, “It’s been an honor to provide the service. We’ll be here as long as the city allows us to do this.”
Sixty percent of the cost of the annual contract with Angel Care is paid by the city and the remaining 40 percent is paid by Bee County.
Council members are expected to make a decision on the request at a later meeting.
Gary Kent is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 120, or at reporter@mySouTex.com.