STARS funding request nixed
Mountain View County council last week turned down a request for a major increase in its funding to STARS Air Ambulance.
Council had already budgeted $4,500 this year but was asked last month by the STARS Foundation to up its contribution to $2 per capita, or provide an additional $20,218 for the service.
During Wednesday’s council meeting, Div. 7 Coun. Al Kemmere proposed increasing this year’s funding to $1 per capita – $12,359 – and consider the $2 per capita request as part of the 2013 budget discussions.
Div. 5 Coun. Bob Orr, however, spoke against increasing this year’s contribution.
“I’d like to see it stay at the contribution we have and look at it again next year,” Orr said.
“As much as I support STARS, I agree with Bob,” Div. 6 Coun. Paddy Munro said.
Munro said he had issues with funding the service with larger amounts of municipal dollars.
“I almost see it as double-dipping,” he said.
Reeve Bruce Beattie concurred.
“Sometimes I wonder what I’m paying provincial taxes for and I wonder why (big cities) aren’t paying (to STARS). I just think we are adequately contributing to it,” Beattie (Div. 4) said.
Div. 1 Coun. Kevin Good said the province supplies air ambulance service for regions north of Edmonton.
“So to be double-dipping in this area – yeah, that is inequality,” Good said.
Div. 3 Coun. Duncan Milne said he agreed with bringing the funding request back for next year’s budget, adding that he could support Kemmere’s suggested amount at that time.
“I like Al’s suggestion. I think $1 per capita would be right. But bring it back next year,” Milne said.
With only Kemmere voting in favour, his motion was defeated.
Mountain View County has funded STARS for 18 years, starting at $5,000 and reducing the contribution to $4,500 since 2007, except for 2011 when the amount dropped to $3,800.
Alberta Health provides an annual grant of $5.488 million to STARS but that amount covers only about 25 per cent of total mission costs. For the remaining 75 per cent STARS relies on donations from individuals, service groups, businesses and municipalities, and collaborative agreements with provincial governments.