STURGIS — Just over $17,900 has been raised to fund ambulance service to areas outside the Sturgis city limits in rural Meade County.
Ross Lamphere of the Rural Sturgis Ambulance Group appeared before the Sturgis City Council Monday with an update to the total raised.
The Sturgis Ambulance Service has served the area outside the Sturgis city limits and east into central Meade County for years, but on April 15, the city council voted to redraw the boundaries of its service response area, leaving out some rural Meade County residents effective July 15.
City officials have said the city can no longer shoulder the costs of providing ambulance service to an area where residents do not pay to fund the service.
On July 15, the deadline to find long-term funding solutions for ambulance service to those who live outside Sturgis city limits mere hours away, the Sturgis City Council voted to grant an extension of the service boundary redrawing.
The implementation was delayed until Dec. 31, if property and business owners were able to provide $30,000 (half of what the city says it loses in a year by serving those areas) as well as a detailed and implementable plan to raise the needed $60,000 annually at its Nov. 18, council meeting. In addition, the council asked the leaders of the group to provide a monthly update to the council at the first council meeting of every month.
Lamphere said Monday that since the group’s last report to the city in September, their fundraising efforts have continued. Letters asking for monetary donations were sent to homeowners and businesses within the rural service area.
Lamphere did have a stack of about 125 letters that the group had sent out but were returned as undeliverable because of inaccurate addresses. The 125 represent a small percentage of the 1,400 letters sent out seeking donations.
“We continue to receive responses from this letter daily. People are being very generous,” Lamphere said.
Donations have ranged from $10 up to hundreds of dollars, he said.
“It varies depending upon people’s circumstances I’m sure,” Lamphere said.
The Rural Sturgis Ambulance Group will meet at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Sturgis Fire Hall to finalize and implement plans moving forward, Lamphere said.
“I think that our plans are coming together. We intend on finalizing the petitions and reviewing the requirements to carry those petitions at the meeting,” he said.
Residents interested in forming a tax district must get signatures on petitions to bring the issue to a vote such as was done last December.
The group already has drawn a preliminary map for the ambulance response district which would be known as the Rural Sturgis Ambulance District.
The rural ambulance meeting Wednesday also will include the election of a board of directors for the group, Lamphere said.
“I think this shows our seriousness and our need to keep ahead of this and make this thing happen sooner rather than later,” he said.
The group is developing a timetable in moving forward with the formation of a tax district.
“We just feel this is too important of an issue to delay proceedings, so we are proceeding as quickly as possible,” Lamphere added.
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