STURGIS, S.D. (KBHB) – With just hours to spare, the Sturgis City Council agreed, with conditions, to extend the deadline for cutting off city-owned ambulance service to some 4,000 residents who live outside city limits.
The council voted in April to set July 15 as the deadline for residents currently served by the ambulance to come up with a legitimate plan to help pay for its services or lose it. Currently, only residents who live within city limits pay for the ambulance service via a fee that is included in their property taxes.
Campground owners and residents in the affected areas showed council members last night that they are serious about finding a way to help pay. While a proposed tax district seemed off the table, a large fundraising effort seems to be the most viable solution among the majority.
Campground owner Ed Miller says for it too work though will require some help from the city.
After hearing nearly three hours of testimony, the council came up with a plan that got approved 7-2.
The council voted to extend the deadline for shutting off ambulance service to Dec. 31. But, they want to see $30,000 or half of the annual loss to the rural areas, by Nov. 18 – the council’s second meeting in November. Sturgis Alderman Terry Keszler talked about the deadline.
Sturgis Mayor Mark Carstensen reiterated they have been trying hard to try and find a solution to this problem.
Sturgis Ambulance Director Shawn Fischer agrees, and says a major problem is that ambulance services are not considered essential by the state of South Dakota.
Fischer says they would like to see the state make some changes that would allow some state funding to come in and help ambulance service across the state. But, as of now, there are many ambulance services across the state facing similar funding shortfalls.