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Alpena ambulance income down $100K

News Photo by Julie Riddle Alpena Fire Department paramedics tend to a patient during an ambulance run last year.

ALPENA — Fewer trips to the hospital for Alpena-area residents means less money in the city’s general fund, city Treasurer Anna Soik reported Thursday.

The city budgeted $1.75 million in expected revenue for the 2019-20 fiscal year from transportation and other medical services provided by paramedics and equipment from the Alpena Fire Department.

The actual revenue will be about $100,000 short of that, Soik said, after ambulance runs dropped dramatically during the past several months while Michigan residents were told to stay home as much as possible to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Last year, from January through June, Fire Department paramedics averaged 12 runs a day.

In March through May, that number was down to about four or five a day, according to Deputy Fire Chief Rob Edmonds.

Many of those calls were for assistance that didn’t require transport to the hospital and didn’t generate revenue, Edmonds said.

Call volume for the first six months of 2020 once again averages about 12 per day, reflecting a rapidly increased number of ambulance runs once stay-at-home restrictions were lifted. City paramedics are currently responding to 20-plus calls a day, most of them requiring transport to the hospital, Edmonds said.

Long-distance transports — which generate more revenue because of their higher mileage — have not increased and are still at only a third of their usual volume, Edmonds said.

The fiscal year, which ended June 30, has not yet been audited, but ambulance income should total about $1.65 million, Soik said.

Any shortfall from the budgeted amount will come from the general fund, which pays for police, ambulance, and fire protection, along with other public services.

Despite less-than-expected ambulance revenue, the city will probably break even because of an expected savings on police and fire personnel salaries.

New police officers were supposed to be hired last year, but that didn’t happen, Soik said, and the savings should roughly equal the shortfall from ambulance runs.

Reduced traffic during the shutdown led to a loss of about $500 in district court fees paid to the city, which includes fines from traffic stops. Parking ticket income actually went up by about $840 more than last year’s income, Soik said.

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