TRAA ambulance

Three Rivers Ambulance Authority is responsible for responding to emergencies inside the Fort Wayne city limits. Officials say revenue will fall short this year, making its annual budget unbalanced.

Mayor Tom Henry announced a plan Friday to provide $3 million in supplemental funding for the Three Rivers Ambulance Authority.

A resolution approving the funding agreement between the city of Fort Wayne and the ambulance authority will be presented at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, according to a news release from the mayor’s office.

In return, the organization would provide monthly cash flow statements, allowing the city to monitor the ambulance authority’s financial status. The authority would also reimburse the city “as it is reasonably able to do so” as directed by the city controller, the release said.

“Residents can be assured that they’ll continue to receive ambulance service now and in the future without interruption,” Henry said in a statement. “Public safety has been and continues to be a top priority.”

The mayor’s announcement comes two weeks after a request for financial assistance from the ambulance authority. After a Feb. 23 meeting of the organization’s board, Executive Director Joel Benz said he would send a formal letter asking the city for $3.5 million this year to cover its deficit and a small amount of additional funding for 2024.

Benz said the ambulance authority has experienced financial difficulties since last fall, when it increased wages and benefits to retain and attract employees. In September, the board unanimously approved incentives to help with hiring workers, including raises of $2 an hour for dispatchers and $5 an hour for medics. They also approved one-time payments of $1,000 for all employees.

Three Rivers Ambulance Authority, also known as TRAA, was created in 1983 as a quasi-governmental organization to handle Fort Wayne’s emergency medical services. The ambulance authority initially handled paperwork while a contracting company provided hands-on medical care to patients. The ambulance authority took over its own operations last year for the first time.

According to the organization’s website, the authority initially received government funds but hasn’t taken tax subsidies since 1986.

Instead, the authority takes in revenue from user fees and insurance reimbursements.

Rachel Guin, president of the ambulance authority, said the board is “beyond pleased” with the progress the organization has made since taking over its operations last year.

“The rapid success is primarily attributed to the hard work and commitment of our management team and staff who are working in the community every day to keep the people of Fort Wayne and the greater Allen County area safe,” she said in a statement.

Guin said the authority’s request for financial aid is part of an ongoing conversation with the mayor and the City Council.

“Our community should be proud to know that when it mattered most, politics were set aside, and safety and the well-being of all of Allen County was the driving force of all involved in this process,” Guin said.

Statehouse and General Assignment Reporter

Brett Stover is a Reporter covering the Indiana Statehouse and general assignments for The Journal Gazette. A University of Missouri graduate, Stover has covered news in Indiana since 2021.