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Council allots $14,500 for ambulance system

WORTHINGTON -- The Worthington City Council on Tuesday allocated $14,500 in hospital sale funds to Sanford Medical Center Worthington to upgrade the Sanford Worthington Ambulance to the ARMER (Allied Radio Matrix for Emergency Response) system.

"This basically still comes out of money we have already approved for the ARMER system," said Alderman Ron Wood.

The council had already approved $750,000 in hospital sales funds for the city's upgrades to the ARMER system, and $14,500 for ambulance updates would come from those already-allocated funds.

The ambulance upgrades would cost approximately $43,000.

"My personal opinion is that Sanford should have some skin in the game. ... I would like to see the county put in a third, the city put in a third, and Sanford put in a third toward it," said Public Safety Officer Mike Cumiskey. "There's no ownership of the radio if someone comes in and saves the day for you ... if you've got no buy-in to it."

The council voted unanimously to pay $14,500, or a little more than a third, of the costs for the ARMER upgrades.

Additional discussion of what to do with the hospital proceeds became heated over the topic of whether to allocate money toward water quality projects and how to ensure the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed District uses its funding from the Worthington City Council in a sustainable way.

Mayor Alan Oberloh asked whether Wood believed frivolous requests were coming from the Okabena-Ocheda Watershed and suggested Wood was micromanaging.

Alderman Mike Kuhle pointed out all the minutes from the watershed district's meetings were available, and Wood said he believed Oberloh was being abrasive.

After additional discussion of watershed procedures and the Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) studies to be done on Lake Okabena, the council tabled the discussion about hospital proceeds to another meeting, likely to be some time next week.

In other action Tuesday, the council voted unanimously to change the 2011 city-wide spring cleanup in response to abuse of the system.

Spring cleanup was intended to help people get rid of items too small to hire a dumpster for and too large to put in the trash, pointed out Jim Laffrenzen, Worthington Director of Public Works.

Approximately one-third of all the items placed on the curb during spring cleanup could be put into people's trash receptacles for weekly trash pickup, and approximately 10 percent of the large items picked up are brought in from outside the community.

Changes to the system would mean a limit on how much trash people could put on the curb for pickup, although the exact amount of that limit has not yet been determined. Fees will be charged for some items, though some items will still be picked up for free.

More details will be available at a later date.

Last year, a single yard reportedly contained 50 cubic yards of trash.