Wheatland Town Board approves Aug. 13 referendum to fund emergency medical services

The Wheatland Town Board Monday approved a resolution seeking to exceed the levy limit to provide funding for emergency medical services.

The referendum will be held in conjunction with the Aug. 13 election.

The board set a term for the referendum of 5 years. Town Chairman Brett Butler explained that Twin Lakes Rescue is offering a 5-year contract while the other contender, Ambulnz By Docgo is open to a 5-year contract as well.

The vote to approve a 5-year term was approved by a unanimous voice vote.

Town Clerk Donna Deuster said the board will seek to exceed the levy limit by about $150,000 per year, but the precise language will depend on review by the town attorney and the state department of revenue. The Town Board will then need to hold a special meeting to approve the formal referendum language in time to get it to the county clerk by June 7.

The board briefly discussed the possibility of an ongoing referendum, but decided to limit the years of authorization.

“There’s definitely a different optic to an ongoing referendum,” Butler said.

The Wheatland board along with the Randall board is scheduled to hold a joint meeting Tuesday to hear a presentation from Ambulnz By Docgo. Two weeks ago, the board heard a similar presentation from Twin Lakes Rescue, one of the town’s longtime EMS providers.

For 2024, EMS from TLR cost $70,000 for each town.

Starting last summer, Randall, Wheatland and Twin Lakes and TLFR began exploring how to fund 24/7 station coverage for EMS out of the Twin Lakes station. There were some joint meetings and a $900,000 to $1 million cost estimated. Eventually a cost of $900,000 divided with Twin Lakes paying 50 percent and the towns each paying 25 percent was established. The plan then was for each municipality to hold a referendum in April to approve the needed funding. That timeline broke down over ironing out some details about who the new EMTs would work for and other details. The referendum target was switched to August. The Twin Lakes Village Board agreed informally to go ahead with an August referendum at a committee of the whole meeting last week.

More recently, TLFR submitted contracts to Randall and Wheatland with an approval deadline for April 15. The deadline was driven, TLR Chief Ron Redlin said, by the timeline for an August referendum. That deadline has since been withdrawn.

Both towns also had begun seeking other possibilities, such as private companies, for EMS service.


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