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Fee would take place of ambulance costs for students

The+Pullman+fire+chief+plans+to+proposed+a+%2425+fee+for+WSU+students+to+help+cover+the+cost+of+rides.
The Pullman fire chief plans to proposed a $25 fee for WSU students to help cover the cost of rides.

The Pullman fire chief plans to proposed a $25 fee for WSU students to help cover the cost of rides.

The Pullman fire chief plans to proposed a $25 fee for WSU students to help cover the cost of rides.

DANNY LOCHRIDGE | Evergreen reporter

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Pullman Fire Chief Mike Heston has proposed a prepaid ambulance ride fee for WSU undergraduate students, though it will not appear on the ASWSU ballot this spring.

The fee would be $25 per semester, and it has not been determined if graduate students will have to pay the fee, but Heston will meet with them at some point to discuss it.

The idea first came up at a Pullman City Council meeting in January. The main concept of the proposal is to save students and Pullman money, Heston said at the meeting.

Before the fee could be passed, students would have to vote on it and the City Council would have to pass it.

Heston hopes to have it on next year’s ASWSU ballot. The reason for the delay is that they have to make sure that the fee is legal, he said.

“This fee would be the first of its kind,” Heston said.

Some students have concerns about additional fees, however. Freshman Brendan Buys noted the already high cost of tuition.

“I’m not going to pay for other people’s ambulance rides,” he said, “and it’s not because I’m mean, it’s because I’m responsible.”

Heston’s statistics showed that people between 11 and 30 years old account for 30 percent of the ambulance rides in Pullman. He pointed out that not all of these rides were WSU students, as some of them are high school students and non-WSU students within that age range.

“It’s good to fund them if people are in trouble, but make it more reasonable,” WSU freshman Amado Katigbals said. Katigbals suggested lowering the fee to $20.

The $25 fee is similar to the Pullman Transit fee students already pay for free bus rides, which is what the preliminary structure of the ambulance fee is being based on.

Heston said t’s difficult to get new fees processed because, “we’re competing with all of the other fees.”

The fee would not only be a prepaid ambulance ride, it would also be used to enhance the equipment and staff of the fire department. However, he said the fee would not cover hospital bills.

“It would strictly be a subscription ambulance service,” Heston said.

Currently, WSU pays the fire department the percentage of calls that bring them to campus. In 2015, that was 24.1 percent, Heston said.

A lot of people do not pay their ambulance bill, he said, and most of the unpaid fees turn into collections. Since the fees don’t get paid, they get subsidized by the taxpayers.

“Someone has to pay for it,” Heston said.

As for getting the ambulance fee waived if it were to pass, students would have to provide their student ID at the time of the ambulance’s arrival or at a later date, he said.

“This is a win-win for everyone with a lot of support from ASWSU and the City Council,” he said.

Heston said he hopes to have the fee in place by fall of 2018.

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Fee would take place of ambulance costs for students