COPPERAS COVE — The City Council on Tuesday approved a contract with a new emergency medical services billing service that should save the city about half of what it is spending now.
Under its current contract, the city gives about 12 percent of what is collected from patients who use the city’s emergency medical services to Intermedix, the company that handles the ambulance service’s billing, Fire Chief Burney Baskett said.
The new contract moves the services from Intermedix, which the city has used since 2006, to Ems Management & Consultants.
“It is a one-year contract ... at 5.95 percent, which is less than half,” Baskett told the council about the new contract.
As part of the contract, the fire department also will receive four computer tablets to process information prior to the billing collections.
The $20,000 cost for the computers is rolled into the contract but will be collected through an additional 0.95 percent each bill, stated the agreement.
Baskett said the additional percentage will drop from the city’s billing fees once the computer equipment is fully paid for.
The city has budgeted $90,000 for the services for the fiscal year 2014.
Besides the reduction in cost, the city hopes that it will also see a greater amount collected, said City Manager Andrea Gardner.
“(EMS/MC) will do the initial and the followup (collections) to a point,” Baskett said. “We then have the option to bring it in house or use a third party, (collection agency).”
The council by a split vote also approved providing $115,000 to renovate the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation’s offices for construction of a larger meeting room. Councilman Jim Schmitz voted against funding the renovations, while the other council members were in favor of the project.
“This will allow the city to assist with the construction,” said Ryan Haverlah, the city’s budget director.
Once completed, the larger meeting room is proposed to serve as interim City Council chambers.
Schmitz’s opinion dissented from the others because he said he believes Cove EDC can save money by removing an executive meeting room and holding those meetings in a conference room also in the plans.
“This is the first time I have seen (the plans),” Schmitz said. “To me that is a waste of money having that extra room.”
While voting in favor of the measure, Councilman Kenn Smith also said he thought the plans should be changed.
Smith wanted to place the city attorney at the City Council dais so the attorney could communicate with the mayor and city manager during the meeting.
“We need one more chair in my opinion,” Smith said.
The city’s funds will be added to the Cove EDC’s $125,000 budgeted for the project.