Q: Can a city that charges sales tax for emergency services also make a mandatory subscription service for ambulance servic
On July 17, 2023, Broken Arrow City Council adopted Ordinance No. 3794 which removed the opt-out provision for participation in the LifeRide emergency medical services program and made the fee mandatory for all utility customers of the City of Broken Arrow. During fiscal year 2017, when participation in LifeRide was at its highest, the revenue generated from the subscription program fees was $1,008,973 less than the cost to operate the program. That deficit gap has continued to grow each year as the participation rate continued to shrink. A study based on 2022 LifeRide expenses and revenue generated from fees showed a deficit of $3.9 million dollars.
Implementing the mandatory fee for utility customers of the City of Broken Arrow will generate an estimated $658,578 dollars in revenue to help reduce the deficit to operate the LifeRide program. The mandatory fee goes into effect on October 1, 2023, and will be reflected on the November utility bill.
A: In many jurisdictions, cities have the authority to charge fees for specific services, including emergency medical services like ambulance rides. The decision to make the fee mandatory for utility customers is typically within the purview of the city council or local government, subject to compliance with relevant laws and ordinances. However, the legality and specifics of such a fee can vary depending on local regulations, so it's advisable to consult with a local attorney familiar with the laws and ordinances of Broken Arrow to assess the situation fully.
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