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Letter: Setting some information straight on RIDES

By Hugh Lively, Executive Director, RIDES, Spencer, Iowa

I have been following the story about Osceola Community Express (OCE) bus service. I am extremely pleased to hear that it has been a successful venture for everyone involved.  

Recently, RIDES worked with the city administration to end services with the city of Sibley. We were advised the city wanted out of the transportation business mostly due to the fact that the city was not certified with the state to provide Medicaid services; more specifically, the city was not certified to bill Iowa Medicaid Enterprises (IME) for transportation services. To be fully transparent, the city was unable to be credentialed with Iowa’s newly privatized Medicaid process with the new Managed Care Organizations (MCO’s), which were poised to start their services in April 2016. The city, from what I understood, looked into this process and discovered how arduous it truly was. The city asked us what the cost would be for RIDES to resume control of the service. I quoted $21,840, which was the total of the tax levy monies that the city was already collecting to fund the operation of its own service and had been doing so for many years. The city rejected that quote.

The city then inquired as to what the cost would be if RIDES provided the dispatching service. I quoted $500 a month and the city rejected that, also. Then, finally, in March 2016, RIDES met with the city, and they decided at that meeting that they didn’t want RIDES to provide service to the city. They were very clear on this decision and advised that the group was going to provide their own transportation service to the citizens of Sibley.  We wished them great success and left that meeting.

Subsequently, on or about April 21, 2016, RIDES’s corporate attorney sent a letter to the city formally acknowledging that RIDES service would cease on June 30, 2016 at midnight. RIDES continued to provide service for Hope Haven and any other Medicaid transportation services throughout the city and county. In November 2016, RIDES started service again to the citizens of Sibley because of the volume of calls we received requesting our services. OCE had not yet started their service, and this left many citizens without transportation in Sibley. Please bear in mind that we started service in November 2016, and we did so without any financial assistance from the city. We continue to provide service in the city to this day without any funding from the city. So, when I read in the local newspaper, twice, that the city administration quoted that RIDES had cost the city $32,000 a year, I was surprised by this revelation, so I wanted to write this letter to the citizens of Sibley to set the record straight. RIDES billed the city a total of $5,214.08 in fiscal year 2015 and a total of $6,979.72 in fiscal year 2016. These amounts are anywhere from slightly over $400 to slightly over $500 a month for these two years, and not the $32,000 a year quoted by city administration twice in the last few months.  

Thank you for allowing me an opportunity to set the record straight on the actual cost that RIDES billed the city.

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