RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Richmond City Council members adopted an ordinance this week that could benefit the Richmond Ambulance Authority.
The ordinance follows the Authority’s request to increase Mayor Levar Stoney’s subsidy proposal from $4 million to $7.5 million in the next fiscal year’s budget.
Dr. Richard Bennett, the RAA’s Finance Committee Chairman, told 8News that the request for $7.5 million was to overcome challenges faced during the pandemic.
“It’s very simple. Expenses went up, payment went down,” he said.
The Authority’s revenue has been steadily declining since 2020.
Dr. Bennett said in 2020 the revenue was $15 million, in 2021 it fell to $14 million and then in 2022 it lowered to $12 million.
Bennett blamed the rise in supply costs and decline in demand.
“People were scared to go to see their physicians and they were scared to call 911, so transports went down as well,” Bennett said.
After discussions with city leaders to justify the agency’s increased subsidy request for the 2022-2023 fiscal year, city council set aside $4 million in the budget.
Mayor Stoney launched an independent, third-party review of the RAA, which is still pending.
Council members later discussed a tentative agreement to purchase equipment and ambulances.
City council adopted an ordinance Monday that could help bridge the gap.
The ordinance will authorize the city to purchase vehicles and equipment, for up to $3.5 million, for agencies like the Authority to use.
Dr. Bennett said told 8News an increase in funds for the RAA could keep their ambulances running throughout the city.
“This is a need for Richmond, Virginia. It’s not just a need for a profit organization, for shareholders — this is to serve the community, not only better, but just as the standard they’ve come to expect,” he said.
RAA was established in 1991 after city officials suspected ambulance companies were cherry-picking calls based on who they thought would be able to pay for transportation. The RAA became the sole operator for ambulance services in the city thereafter.
City leaders and the authority are still ironing out the details to purchase equipment.
Stay with 8News for updates to this story.