Cumberland Times-News

Local News

July 15, 2014

Charge for ambulance service to increase

City Council candidate objects to request for proposal for 19 Frederick St.

— CUMBERLAND — The rates for an ambulance to arrive at the scene of an emergency may soon be increasing by $75 to a total of $500 for a base-rate emergency call.

The charge for an ambulance response in the city has been $425. However, during a regular bimonthly meeting of the mayor and City Council on Tuesday, an ordinance was introduced for public input that calls for the ambulance calls to be increased by nearly 18 percent.

Jeff Rhodes, city administrator, said the rate hike is in line with federal rates for the service.

“This is essentially updating our code to coincide with what’s been approved by Medicare billing,” said Rhodes.

The ordinance was given a first reading and will receive two future readings at City Council meetings before it can be approved.

In other news from the meeting, Mark Fisher, candidate for City Council, spoke during the public input portion of Tuesday’s meeting to raise concerns over the recent decision by city officials to solicit bids, known as a request for proposal, to have a study done for possible uses of 19 Frederick St.

The city recently announced a joint effort with Allegany College of Maryland to explore the feasibility of converting the building into a collaborative center for education, training and incubation space focused on the information technology and cyber security industries. The request for proposal hopes to land a firm to study the feasibility of making the building operational again and to analyze the ability of the structure to house a training and business incubation center.

Fisher said the study “focuses on 19 Frederick Street” and doesn’t allow for other buildings, which may be better suited, to be considered.

“We are trying to get a use out of a publicly-owned asset. The city doesn’t own another asset which it believes it would place something of this scale and scope,” said David Kauffman, city councilmen.

Fisher spoke with the Times-News after the meeting. He said he likes the idea of having a business incubator and educational facility, but feels it needs to located at the best site to fit the need.

“If you are doing a feasibility study for an incubator, let them tell us the best place for it. Maybe it’s someplace that is smaller. Trying to specify 19 Frederick Street handcuffs the consultant to make the study against a single site,” said Fisher.

Fisher also feels the timing of the request for proposal is problematic. He said the city is currently utilizing funds to have an economic development strategic plan done by RKG Associates, an independent firm based in Arlington, Va. During a recent meeting on the strategic plan, an associate with RKG raised concerns over pursuing post-secondary educational facilities in Cumberland with Allegany College of Maryland and Frostburg State University already in close proximity.

“The strategic plan is going to take money to implement. We have little money to implement something like this. Why are we spending it now, which will leave our pockets empty when the strategic plan is completed,” said Fisher.

The strategic plan by RKG is expected to be completed in the fall. The request for proposal for 19 Frederick St.went out July 10 with a submission deadline of Aug. 13. A recommendation on the request for proposal will be presented to the City Council on Aug. 19.

An expenditure was also approved at the meeting to retain the services of CBIZ Insurance Services of Cumberland to provide risk management services for the city for the 2014/2015 fiscal year. CBIZ helps to identify ways to reduce occupational hazards that can subsequently create a safer work environment and reduce workers compensation claims.

The city also approved to pay a claim in the amount of $360,000 to the Adams Family Funeral Home, 404 Decatur St., with the city’s insurance carrier paying $60,000 of the cost. The funeral home had filed a claim against the city in regard to damages from a burst water pipe in the vicinity.

Greg Larry can be contacted at

Text Only
Local News