The city of Manawa is expected to pay $43,591 to the ambulance service in 2014.
This is up 41 percent from the 2013 assessment of $30,873.
The unexpected increase was a topic of discussion at the Manawa Common Council’s Committee of the Whole meeting on Monday, Oct. 7.
The Manawa Ambulance Service came up $37,000 short on a recent audit, according to Mary Eck, the council’s representative to the Manawa Fire Board.
“It is a giant mess at this point,” Eck said. “I don’t know if there’s a good answer.”
“Why should the taxpayers pay for their mistake?” Alderman Mike Frazier asked.
“I don’t think it’s fair (the city of Manawa) has to pay $12,000 more,” he said. “Everybody has paid their taxes (for the services).”
“Do we have anything as a council to say about that?” asked Mayor John Smith.
“If you raise the ambulance budget that much, someone else is taking a hit,” said City Clerk Cheryl Hass.
She noted that if the fire board approved the budget, it still needs to go through the public hearing process.
“There’s not much the city can change because we’re already on a tight budget,” Hass said.
She noted the city already needs to cut at least $5,000 in its 2014 budget, which includes no significant increases from 2013.
Council members asked what would happen if the city says “no” to paying the $12,000 ambulance assessment.
“I know that the ambulance on paper owes the fire department a lot of money,” Smith said. “They’re two separate entities acting as one.”
The deficit was assessed among the six municipalities that share the ambulance services.
The preliminary 2014 budget for the ambulance is $149,287, which includes the $37,000 deficit.
The municipality assessments (based on population) total: $46,279 for town of Little Wolf; $$43,591 for city of Manawa; $26,423 for town of Union; $16,421 for town of Royalton; $9,255 for town of St. Lawrence; and $7,315 for the town of Lebanon.