The ambulance subsidy for the city of Eagle River and towns of Washington, Cloverland, Lincoln and Hiles will increase 5% for 2020 — going from $325,600 to $342,642 — and includes  24-hour emergency medical services (EMS) coverage.

The Ambulance Study Committee met last week to examine estimated ambulance costs  for 2020 from the Ascension Eagle River Hospital. The subsidy is divided among the municipalities based on population, according to commission Chairman Brian Uttech.

It was determined Eagle River’s subsidy share will increase 8.5% to $78,370; Lincoln by 4.1% to $128,394; Cloverland by 3.2% to $53,939; Washington by 4.2% to $76,484; and Hiles by 2.6% to $5,455. The ambulance service only serves a portion of Hiles.

Also included in the presentation was a detailed financial statement showing total ambulance runs and the number of billable runs, including intercepts. Billable runs are expected to drop from 613 in 2019 to 562 in 2020 and intercepts also are projected to drop from 48 this year to 27 in 2020.

Uttech said the total expenses for the service in 2020 is estimated at $601,560, but revenues will be $258,918 based on the billable runs and money collected. That leaves $342,642 for the municipalities to fund.

Because the municipalities have levy limits, Uttech said funding the EMS program is difficult for the towns, but he understands the service is needed.

“The future of emergency medical services is going to have to change,” said Uttech.

Projected EMS runs are as follows: Eagle River a total of 431 runs, with 282 billable and 149 non-billable; Lincoln with 115 billable and 66 non-billable; Washington with 71 billable and 41 non-billable; Cloverland with 37 billable and 19 non-billable; and Hiles with two runs, both billable.

Commission members said they were satisfied with the projected subsidy and the emergency medical services provided by Ascension Eagle River Hospital, which will include paramedics on every call.

“We’re extremely happy with the services the ambulance provides,” said town of Washington Chairman Jim Egan.

The Eagle River Area Fire Department responds to some of the ambulance calls for lifting assistance of patients.

Fire Chief Michael Anderson told the commission that having paramedics request lifting assistance only after the ambulance arrives to see if lifting assistance is needed was a welcome change in the program. He said the department does not charge for lifting assistance, which cost the department $3,180 in 2019.

The commission approved the subsidies as presented. Each of the municipalities will now have to fund the subsidies through their 2020 budgets.