After a back-and-forth between the Granite Falls Ambulance Service and the Minnesota Falls Township board, the two entities are still unable to see eye-to-eye regarding a contract.

After a back-and-forth between the Granite Falls Ambulance Service and the Minnesota Falls Township board, the two entities are still unable to see eye-to-eye regarding a contract.

Previously in 2014, with the support of the Granite Falls City Council and the area townships, the Granite Falls Ambulance Service started service contracts, similar to that of the fire department. These township contracts state a cost of $75 per section per year to be paid to the Granite Falls Ambulance as a designated fund for the purpose of the purchase of a new ambulance every 2-3 years. This is to ensure the ambulance is able to offer a quality service with up-to-date, functioning ambulances.

The Granite Falls Ambulance Services’ primary  service area, serves the city of Granite Falls and 10 townships surrounding  Granite Falls. In 2014, nine of the townships and the City of Granite Falls signed the contracts.  Payment for the contracts began in 2015 and 2016.  For two years, nine townships and the City of Granite Falls have financially supported the Granite Falls Ambulance. Many townships have even donated additional monies as a way of showing their appreciation and full support of the comprehensive service they provide.

The single township that has not agreed and/or signed a contract with the Granite Falls Ambulance is the Minnesota Falls Township. This township has been approached numerous times by then director Gene Hughes and since that time, current Granite Falls Ambulance Director Jana Berends-Sletten, in an effort to obtain a signed contract.

In the past two years, Granite Falls Ambulance has responded to 2,020 ambulance calls.  Of those calls, 1,232 have occurredoutside the city limits of Granite Falls and 579 of those were to the Minnesota Falls Township. The Minnesota Falls Township board is made up of three voting members and two non-voting members.  As a board, they have requested financial documents, budgets, and etc. However, as a municipality, the financials of the hospital are delivered at monthly board meetings which are open to the public.  

According to the contract, the amount of money this would cost Minnesota Falls Township is $2137.50 per year. To break down the numbers, there are 36 sections in Minnesota Falls Township. At the request of the board chair, Wesley Erickson, 4.5 sections were subtracted for uninhabited land and 3 sections for the Upper Sioux Reservation. As a cost breakdown, 127 households are in Minnesota Falls Township and the cost would be $16.83/household/year or $.18/acre/year for the 12,000 tillable acres in the township.

Over the past several months, there have been numerous conversations between Erickson, the Minnesota Falls Township board, and the Granite Falls Ambulance Director with no resolution.  According to Ambulance Director Berends, various constituents within the township have been notified and all have been said to be in full support of the ambulance service contract. Physician Medical Directors Dr. Carter and Dr. Rillo, Granite Falls Ambulance Director, constituents from the township, Granite Falls Fire Chief, as well as the Advocate Tribune were in attendance at the last township board meeting. 

Following a nearly two-hour discussion, where the township board voiced their concern over accountability as they stated they wanted the Granite Falls Ambulance to provide thorough financial documentation of purchases, the township board offered a verbal agreement to sign the contract provided the subtractions of Upper Sioux Reservation sections.  

After Erickson was notified of the changes that had been made to the contract per the verbal agreement reached August 9th, according to Berends, he stated the township board did not vote on the matter and he has many unanswered questions and is dissatisfied with the answers he received at the meeting. 

Berends explained that Erickson has requested the Granite Falls Hospital Administrator, Board Members, and Chief Financial Officer, as well as the City Administrator and City Finance Director attend the next township board meeting September 13th, 2016 to answer questions related to how the money obtained from the townships is being handled.  

The Minnesota Falls Township’s next board meeting is September 13th at 7pm at the Granite Falls Airport.