Lepanto City Council hears about ambulance service

Thursday, May 23, 2002

During the monthly meeting of the Lepanto City Council Monday night, council members heard and discussed two subjects that are vital to the city: medical care and the court system.

The council heard from Rob Fox, owner of the Riverside Ambulance Service. Fox, whose company provides ambulance services to the city of Lepanto and surrounding areas, addressed the council stating that new Medicare regulations taking effect April 1 have put the ambulance service in a crunch financially in its Lepanto operation. Fox stated that his company has spent $98,000 in the last 12 months providing service in Lepanto. Fox also stated that his company makes between 10 and 29 runs a month in Lepanto and that to break even, he must make at least twenty runs a month. Also, Fox stated that the problems in Medicare are happening all over Arkansas.

During the debate and discussion of the issue, several council members weighed in. Council member Terry Kemp stated that Riverside has done a good job and that he wants to see the city and Riverside work on the situation. Council member John Henderson asked whether or not a city could subsidize the privately owned ambulance service, but City Attorney Noyl Houston countered that considerations could be made in lieu of payment. Council member David Tyler stated that under the prior system of a volunteer service, the city could not find drivers for the ambulance and that the city could not write off the total cost of a volunteer ambulance service. Kemp asked that Riverside stay another month, while a decision could be made on the issue. A special meeting could be called to address the situation at a later date.

The council also discussed another heated topic in the city of Lepanto: the court system. Several city council members openly questioned the town's court system and its collection of fines owed to the city. Council member David Tyler, along with council member Terry Kemp, asked about collections of fines that were owed to the city, several of which were cited. Mayor Dale Dunlap agreed with most of their assessment and stated that he will invite Lepanto District Judge Jim Dunlap to the June meeting to discuss the situation with council members and the public.

In other action, the council:

* Voted 6-0 to approve the minutes of the April 2002 meeting and the financial statement for the month of April 2002.

* Voted 5-0, with one abstaining, to accept the bid of Ross Ford, for $15,152, to purchase a truck for the Water Department. The one abstaining vote came from David Simmons, who works for a company that made a bid to the city.

* Tabled discussion over the ownership of the Lepanto American Legion Hut, due to a question over ownership of the property.

* Voted 6-0 to approve the appointment of Ford Long and Vonda Pearson to five-year terms, as Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of

Lepanto.

* Voted 6-0 to approve resolutions condemning properties owned by residents inside the city of Lepanto.

* Heard from council member John Henderson, who asked the mayor about several city-related topics. Topics included an update on the status of the lawsuit filed by former Lepanto Police Chief James Alexander against the city, a problem at the cemetery and discussing retirement plans for a Water Department employee.

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