COLUMBUS JUNCTION — To help cover its ambulance service expenses, Columbus Junction City Council agreed Wednesday to approve a line of credit (LOC) of up to $75,000 from a local bank.
Mayor Mark Huston explained the line of credit was needed because insurance reimbursements to the Louisa County Ambulance Service have been delayed since the nonprofit service moved to city ownership on Jan. 1. .
Huston said reimbursements, which included those provided by Medicare and Medicaid, were delayed while the city waited for its tax identification number (TIN).
He also explained that a new accounting system for the city-operated service was still being implemented. Huston said Louisa Development Group (LDG) executive director Cole Smith is helping with the effort.
“We’ve had very little revenue, (but) we still have bills,” Huston said of why he asked Community Bank and Trust to provide the city with the LOC.
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He said any loan given through the COL would bear an interest rate of 4% and would only be used for ambulance costs.
“We could transfer money from our general fund to the (ambulance) fund…but I think we don’t need to miss our general fund,” he added.
Meanwhile, with no defined accounting system in place, Huston said the city was still unclear about the status of accounts receivable from the former nonprofit ambulance service.
“It’s going to take us time to catch up,” he said.
That could mean the city might need to seek donations from local citizens, which Huston said residents said they supported before the city decided to take over the operation of the service.
He also suggested the city could ask the county for additional support on top of its current $42,864 annual allocation if the city was unable to meet the expenses.
City council members said they had few options.
“It needs to keep running,” council member Tracy Harris said of the ambulance service.
Huston agreed, but said he was confident the volunteer ambulance board, which includes board members Frank Best and Hal Prior, remained aware of the situation.
The council held a public hearing and then approved the city’s fiscal year 2023 budget. According to the Notice of Public Hearing, total expenditures and transfers out are expected to be $1,535,852, with total revenues and transfers in projected to be $3,958,934.
The city’s projected initial balance of $621,131 would increase to $3,044,213.
The estimated tax levy for next year would be slightly lower at $12.27 per $1,000 of taxable assessment. This compares to the current levy for fiscal year 2022 of just over $12.39 per $1,000.
No comments on the budget were presented during the previous public hearing.
The council also approved a $2,229 contract with the Louisa County Conservation Board (LCCB) which will continue a joint summer recreation program in the city.
LCCB naturalist Laura Semken said this year’s program will run from July 11-15 and August 1-5.
In the final action, the council accepted a bid of $5,280 from Deese Seamless Gutters, Columbus Junction, to install gutters over half of the waterworks roof and ice guards over the entire portion.
Huston also provided updates on planning for the renovation of the Columbus Community Heritage Center Museum.