January 21, 2013 10:19:59 AM
The city of Starkville is reapplying for an ambulance services for which grant officials previously thought they were ineligible.
Starkville Mayor Parker Wiseman said the city is in the process of working with OCH Regional Medical Center to prepare a new application for the $14,194 grant provided by the Emergency Medical Services Operating Fund.
"Based on the conversation I had earlier this week, I have every reason to expect that we should be awarded that grant," Wiseman said.
The city had previously submitted an application for the EMSOF grant, which it does annually, but was denied this year because it was reported in the application that no city representative had attended a mandatory administration meeting.
But Wiseman was informed Tuesday that OCH Chief Financial Officer Susan Russell, who had attended the meeting on behalf of the county, qualified as a representative for the city.
"There are some other things in addition to attendance at the meeting that have to be verified, such as how the grant funds were spent last year," Wiseman said. "But all of that is already pretty much in order."
Starkville's budget and audit committee also met with OCH CEO Richard Hilton Tuesday, and all parties agreed it would be in the best interest of the city to pursue the grant.
Hilton was set to speak in front of the board of aldermen at their previous meeting to discuss a cut in city funding for ambulance services, but he failed to appear after Wiseman suggested he meet with the budget and audit committee instead.
If Starkville's application is accepted, the grant would restore $24,194 -- a little more than half of the $40,000 normally allocated to OCH ambulance services but cut by the board of aldermen at their Jan. 2 meeting.
The board had already paid OCH $10,000 at the beginning of Fiscal Year 2013.
By recommendation from the budget and audit committee, the board voted 5-2 to suspend payments for ambulance services for Fiscal Year 2013.
The hospital budgets a loss for ambulance services every year, but the loss is supplemented by public funds from the city, county and Mississippi State.
Along with the city's $40,000, the county currently makes up for the bulk of the supplement -- more than $200,000 -- but the university also gives $30,000 annually.
Wiseman said he is glad some of the money for the service is being restored but he hopes the board revisits whether or not to suspend payments.
"It is certainly my hope that the city funding for the ambulance service will at some point be completely restored," Wiseman said. "We are all pleased to hear about this grant though."