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Falls favours taxing district for ambulance services

By Randy Thoms Sep 11, 2023 | 5:54 PM

Ambulances parked outside the International Falls Ambulance Hall in this undated photo. Image: Randy Thoms/Acadia Broadcasting

The city of International Falls is bleeding red ink with its ambulance service.

Mayor Harley Droba says it is anywhere between $250 to $300 thousand annually, with the accumulated deficit reaching $1.3 million.

The deficit is the result of several factors, including the cost of transferring patients to other hospitals that take staff away from the community for several hours.

Droba adds insurance plans that reimburse service providers have not kept up with the actual cost of providing ambulance services.

Droba says the situation is to a point that they might have to look at a change in the level of service provided.

“We don’t know what that’s going to look like, but we are in danger of not, I don’t want to say going bankrupt, but we don’t have the money to continue the ambulance service, and there’s no way for the city to get out of ambulance service,” says Droba.

Droba says many on council are prepared to end their involvement in ambulance services and see what happens.

He would prefer a taxing district to help offset the losses.

Droba says they could sell off the service and let someone else run it but that would cost the city $1.2 million a year to access the service.

“We’re doing it very well. There is no company that can do it cheaper than what we’re doing in-house. The problem we have is the residents of International Falls are the only ones that are paying that loss,” says Droba.