There’s a good chance Duncan will get a new city councilman Tuesday night, as the council looks to appoint a replacement for Phil Greenwald’s now-vacant Ward 3 seat.

At its regular meeting two weeks ago, the council interviewed four of the five candidates who have volunteered to fill the final year of Greenwald’s unexpired term.

The fifth candidate will be present Tuesday night and, after a brief question-and-answer session, the council will consider selecting one of the five to join it at the head table.

Only two other major items make up the agenda:

• Approval of an increase in fees for ambulance service inside Duncan’s city limits;

• An executive (private) session to discuss ongoing negotiations with the labor union which represents Duncan’s police officers (the International Union of Police Associations Local No. 37).

Duncan’s ambulance service is provided by American Medical Response (AMR), which contracts with Duncan Regional Hospital out of Wichita Falls, Texas.

If approved, the cost of ambulance service will increase from 3 to 18 percent, depending on the level of service provided.

In a letter to Duncan’s city officials, Charles Grady, operations manager with AMR, said the rate hike would allow the service to be totally paid for by those using the service, and would quash the company’s need to ask the city for money to subsidize it.

He said the rising cost of fuel and healthcare technology, along with changes in insurance premium costs and Medicare reimbursement, have forced the need for the increase.

In support of its request, AMR submitted a chart that indicates that even with the increased cost the service would still charge less, per level of service, than other ambulance and EMS services in Oklahoma.

Also, according to a fact sheet submitted by AMR, only 15 percent of ambulance charges were paid for by individual patients in 2005. Medicare, they said, paid the bulk of the charges (60.9 percent) with private insurance chipping in another 10.9 percent.

And in another report, AMR said it responded to 2,320 calls in Duncan from Oct. 1 to Dec. 31, 2005, with an average response time of 7.5 minutes.

The proposed increase was reviewed, and then recommended, by the six members of Duncan’s Emergency Medical Services Advisory Board present at its March 27 meeting.

According to Duncan City Manager Clyde Shaw, the delay in considering AMR’s request was the result of the council’s obligation to first approve a contract with DRH to provide the city’s sole source ambulance service; an action which the council approved last month.

Following the City Council meeting, when the council changes hats and reconvenes as the Duncan Public Utility Authority trustees, the discussion will turn to the lease of a power module to Prepaid Legal’s facility on Plato Road for a payment of $2,000 per month, as well as the establishment of a new interruptable rate code for qualifying customers as an economic incentive.

The council meets at 5:15 p.m. Tuesday in the council chambers inside the Duncan Police Complex at the corner of Seventh Street and Willow.

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