Sturgis grants ambulance service redrawing extension to end of year

The Sturgis Ambulance Service will continue to serve rural Sturgis residents following a Monday vote by the Sturgis City Council to extend the redrawing of the ambulance service boundaries due to funding constraints. Pioneer file photo

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STURGIS –– With 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 Monday voted to grant an extension of the service boundary redrawing. 

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 Monday. 

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. During Monday’s meeting, several residents and business owners from the county took part in discussions regarding funding for the Sturgis Ambulance Service.

The council considered many of the ideas and efforts brought forward by those in attendance, and after final discussions and numerous requests for a deadline extension, the council agreed to extend the deadline to Dec. 31.

Those leading the fundraising efforts agreed to provide ongoing updates to the city council as to how the fundraising efforts are going and to provide $30,000 in funding to the ambulance service by Nov. 18. 

According to a post of the city’s Facebook page, if those efforts do not meet the requirements for a sustainable long-term funding source, the ambulance service will not respond to calls outside the new boundary areas after Dec. 31. The new proposed boundaries include all areas within city limits, along the I-90 corridor, property within the U.S. Forest Service, Bureau of Land Management lands, Ft. Meade, and areas where current service contracts are in place.

The city has operated the service on a shortfall of approximately $60,000 per year covering the rural areas east and north of Sturgis.

In April, representatives of the group calling itself Citizens For Fair Emergency Services asked the city to extend its deadline to October, which would be the earliest that another vote could take place on forming an ambulance tax district.

Residents in the proposed new ambulance tax district went to the polls on Dec. 18, 2018, and voted down forming the district 199-171.

Following that vote, the city took steps to find other ways to fund ambulance service in the rural areas, including charging campground owners fees ranging from $300 for campgrounds that had no ambulance calls last year, to $5,100 for campgrounds that had 10 or more calls.

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