OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) -- Fees can legally be added to utility bills to allow Oklahoma cities to subsidize private ambulance services, state Attorney General Drew Edmondson has ruled. The opinion was requested by State Rep. James Covey, D-Custer City, who said he has received questions and complaints since the city of Clinton contracted with a private ambulance company in October and began adding charges to utility bills. Cash-strapped cities who subsidize ambulance services out of general fund revenue may be interested in shifting the burden to residents via their utility bills.
While Oklahoma City has no immediate plans to do this, Mayor Mick Cornett said he is intrigued by the idea.
The city's subsidy to the Emergency Medical Services Authority for operating ambulances last year was $2.7 million, and is forecast to increase next fiscal year to $3.8 million.
''It's a large burden for us because it comes out of our general fund while those dollars are becoming more scarce,'' Cornett said. Clinton charges utilities customers $48 a year in order to subsidize a private ambulance service.