By Tina Snell
It has been standard operational procedure for the city of Motley to bill both residents in town and those in the outlying areas for 911 calls. Any time the first response team was called out, the household it responded to was billed $200 to help recoup the cost of the trip.
At Tuesday’s meeting, the City Council voted to cease billing for one year.
Clerk Treasurer Terri Smith brought the issue up to the council members.
“Nine times out of 10, insurance won’t cover the call,” she said. “And many times, senior citizens are making a choice of paying the bill, purchasing medications or buying food. This puts an undue burden on them.”
Smith said she would hate to have anyone cancel the first response call when it’s needed, just because of the $200. She wants it to be a service to the community.
There were approximately 60 calls made to 911 in Motley for 2011. Of that, about $7,000 is still unpaid. Fire Chief Dave Greig told the Council the cost of assembling the medical team and running a rig to someone in rural Motley costs more than $200.
“I would still like to see the charge discontinued,” he said. “It takes time from the staff to keep sending out notices.”
Council Member Rob Sampson said the cost could be cut to $100 so it’s not such a burden.
Smith said the $200 cost is not part of the budget, and therefore if discontinued, it would not affect it. She also said that those who do pay the bill are not happy when nothing happens to those who don’t.
Sampson, while saying he didn’t think the city should discontinue charging those who call 911, made the motion to drop the billing for one year, and revisit the issue in 2013.
Motley City Council briefs
Other business conducted by the Motley City Council Tuesday night included:
• Scheduling a special meeting Tuesday to discuss the 2012 street project and the more than $77,000 Kuechle Underground Inc. wants in compensation for work done;
• Council Member Rob Sampson agreeing to take a copy of the open meeting laws to the next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting because Council Member Bruce Mills said he didn’t think the members were aware of the laws. Mills also asked Sampson to put an emphasis on the Code of Ethics;
• Voting to continue with a 30 percent discount on building permits;
• Learning the Fire Department was not approved for a FEMA grant;
• Scheduling a citywide Clean-up Day for either May 12, or May 19, whichever will work the best;
• Agreeing to allow Maintenance Supervisor Wayne Barros to spend up to $500 for an open house at the Wastewater Treatment Facility, the date to be announced;
• Voting to give St. Michael’s Catholic Church a gambling permit to play bingo Sunday, April 1; and
• Hearing from two residents concerning the 2012 street project. Ed Jordahl said the Free Methodist Church was concerned with the assessments it would have to pay for a 36-foot wide street (Wellwood) that goes nowhere and Bob Koland asked Council Members if they knew the number of people this project would affect and if they had even spoken to any of them.
The next regularly scheduled City Council meeting will be held at City Hall Tuesday, March 13, at 7 p.m.