May 19, 2014
City council unanimously voted to allow Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad, or CARS, to bill passengers for ambulance rides at its Monday night meeting.
Council formalized, for the first time, CARS' role alongside the fire department.
"Over 50 years we've never really had any formal agreement about the services that we provide to the city," said CARS' president Michael Berg.
He explained Virginia state law requires local jurisdictions to approve service providers
"This is just a formality to move through, but it also affords an opportunity for greater collaboration and cooperation with the city fire department and the Charlottesville-Albemarle Rescue Squad."
Council also allowed CARS to bill for transporting patients and the services they provide during transport. CARS has not charged for this before.
Berg said this will allow the group enough money to continue to provide services to the community because, though it met its goal this year, raising enough money can be challenging.
"We've been greatly supported by the community over the years. We did make our fund drive goal this past year. I think there were some people in the community that [were] concerned because of some changes in dynamics, but we were very successful in obtaining that goal. But you have to look towards the future, and this organization's been in place for over 50 years, and part of that's because we look to the future," said Berg.
The ordinance allows the right to bill, but CARS may decide whether or not it will.
The ordinance also puts city council in charge of rates and regulating them.
"Generally, what happens is they'll look at rates in the surrounding areas and look at what's the most affordable for the community," explained Berg.
Council will approve all fees CARS may charge at a future meeting.