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L.A. City Council to consider raising ambulance, DASH fees

May 24, 2010 | 12:30 pm
http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/photos/uncategorized/2008/10/23/ambulance500.jpgA Los Angeles City Council panel backed a proposed ordinance on Monday that would hike ambulance fees by 37% starting July 1, the first of several strategies for passing the city’s budget woes onto L.A. consumers.

The proposal would increase the transportation fee for basic life support ambulances from $712 to $974. Those ambulances typically respond to less critical emergencies, city officials said.

Advanced life support ambulances, which allow paramedics to provide treatment for major emergencies, would have their fees jump from $1,004 to $1,373. The city also charges $15.75 per mile for ambulance transportation.

The proposal comes less than two years after the council increased fees for Basic Life Support ambulances from $622 to $712. That vote, which took place in October 2008, also increased fees for Advanced Life Support ambulances from $889 to $1,004.

The new fees, which won the support of the council’s Public Safety Committee, would generate $6 million for the Fire Department in the coming year, according to city officials. The plan will require a vote of the council.

Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the council have come up with a variety of increased fees and fines for the coming budget year. Dog and cat licenses are slated to jump from $15 to $20.

Parking fines are scheduled to go up by $5 for an array of violations. Late fees for unpaid parking tickets are expected to go up by $15.

Councilman Dennis Zine, who favored the proposal, said the higher ambulance fees are needed to allow the city to cover the full cost of its emergency response. “Costs have increased, and this is all part of that,” he said.

In addition to Zine, Councilmen Greig Smith and Ed Reyes favored the increases. Zine said another proposal is being developed to charge a fee when paramedics show up but do not transport any patients by ambulance.

At 1 p.m., the council’s Budget and Finance Committee is scheduled to review a plan for hiking DASH bus fares on a gradual basis, from 25 cents this year to 35 cents on July 1 and 50 cents in the 2011-2012 fiscal year. Fares would also go up by varying amounts for the city’s Commuter Express system, which transports passengers to downtown from suburban neighborhoods.

As part of the DASH plan, a series of routes would be eliminated or scaled back. 

-- David Zahniser at Los Angeles City Hall

Photo: L.A. Times file