Proposal floated to save Air Ambulance
By Wendy Osher
The County’s Air Ambulance could be saved under a proposal raised today before the Council’s Budget and Finance Committee.
After initially requesting the elimination of the service last month, Maui Mayor Charmaine Tavares issued a follow up request to utilize real property revenues combined with emergency funds to cover the county’s share of the bill for the air ambulance service.
The request calls for the use of $234,851 in additional tax revenues that were the result of the certification of real property values. The remaining $437,364 would come from the county’s $2 million emergency fund for a total county contribution of $672,215.
The total cost of the air ambulance service is $1.2 million annually, half of which is paid for by the state Department of Health.
In a statement issued Monday evening, Tavares said, “Many in the community have requested that I reconsider my earlier proposal to remove funding for the State’s Air Ambulance Program in the County’s budget proposal.” She continued, “I had hoped to see the State Department of Health and Maui Memorial Medical Center come forward to pay for this important service, which is part of their overall mission. However, the State and hospital appear to be unable to meet this responsibility in Fiscal Year 2011. I urge them to include the full funding necessary for the Air Ambulance in their own budgets in future years,” said Tavares.
“At least we can say the administration has heard the community and has reconsidered something that is really vital for our safety and well being,” said Councilmember Michael Victorino.
“I share our community’s concern and recognize the importance of this program in a county comprised of three populated islands and many remote communities. While it is unfortunate that the State is not providing the full funding, I am now requesting that the Council consider funding the program through additional real property tax revenue that has just now been certified,” said Tavares.
The air ambulance service was first launched in August of 2004 to serve in the emergency transport of patients from remote locations across Maui County.