Future of Ambulance Funding Discussed at Havre City Council Meeting

HAVRE, Mont. (NMB) – Havre’s City Council met for its regularly scheduled meeting on Monday night and spent nearly an hour discussing the future of ambulance services in Havre and Hill County.

The issue came to light last week after a letter from Havre Mayor Tim Solomon to the County Commissioners sent in February was provided to reporters.

The letter argues that Hill County is not paying its fair share for Havre’s ambulance services calls outside of city limits. Solomon says that despite 28 percent of ambulance calls coming outside of city limits in fiscal year 2019, the county only paid 5 percent of the subsidy.

The letter threatened to stop ambulance service outside of city limits beginning July 1st. However, Mayor Solomon said at the meeting that because the County Commissioners have now responded to the letter and discussions are ongoing, that July 1st date will now be moved back indefinitely.

There were around 30 members of the public in attendance, and about a dozen spoke during the meeting about the matter.

Members of the public chastised local leaders for failing to discuss this issue earlier, noted that saving lives is more important than saving money and worried that the quality of ambulance service in the future could be in jeopardy.

A number of potential proposals were discussed, including creating a fire district, making a private ambulance service and putting a mill levy on the November ballot.

No official action was taken and the issue will continue to be discussed at future meetings.

Other agenda items at the meeting included:

  • Administering the Oath of Office to Andrew Brekke as Ward 3 Council Person
  • A presentation of an Independent Auditor’s Report of the City’s 2019 financial statements. The auditor found no issues with the city’s statements and issued an unmodified opinion
  • Re-appointing Dave Peterson and Scott Dawson to the city Planning Board, Kevin Hellegaard to the Police Commission, and Wade Bitz to the Historic Preservation Commission
  • Several amendments to Havre’s budget. These amendments included providing grants awarded from the State of Montana to both Clear Creek Trailer Court and Havre Eagle’s Manor for preliminary studies for potential upcoming projects. Also approved was the cancelation of warrants authorized by the finance director that are more than a year old, as well as a resolution to the 911 Emergency Fund to fix an accounting error. Expenses for the fund were $10,000 less than what was in the budget ($338,000 vs. $328,000). The difference has been spent on 911 dispatch equipment.
  • The approval of manual claims and warrants

Also during the meeting, attendee Brian Lilletvedt asked if anything could be done about the abundance of deer in the city. Mayor Solomon said that they are in conversations with Fish and Game and research is being done regarding potential solutions.

The next City Council meeting will take place on July 6th.

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