STARS air ambulance is hoping to add Lacombe County to the list of municipalities helping to keep its helicopters in the air.
“It’s all about all of us working together to preserve a service that we’re actually very fortunate as Albertans to have available to us. There is no cost to the patient anytime there is a STARS mission. It doesn’t exclude anyone,” said Glenda Farnden, senior municipal relations liaison, on Friday.
Farnden, who made a presentation to Lacombe councillors at their March 8 regular meeting, asked the county to join STARS’ municipal partner initiative at $2 per capita. The request was referred to the county manager to prepare a report for consideration.
She said 90 per cent of rural municipalities in the province are on board, and some have contributed since STARS began in 1985.
“The last couple of years have been pretty trying, challenging years across the board for all Albertans, municipalities included. We only saw maybe one or two that said they just had to lower the amount, but they would look at what they were previously giving in the next year or two when hopefully things are improving for Alberta.”
Together rural and urban municipalities contribute about $1.7 million annually to STARS.
STARS runs on a $38-million annual budget and government funding through Alberta Health Services (AHS) pays 20 per cent of costs.
“Negotiations will be coming up and we continue to work and have meetings with (AHS) to see if there’s opportunity to increase that.”
She said about 40 per cent of the budget, or about $16 million, has to be generated by municipalities, individuals and the corporate sector.
Funds are also generated from its site registration program largely used by industry, the STARS Calendar and STARS Alberta Lottery.
She said the lottery is about 88 per cent sold and the March 22 final deadline is getting close.
“We’re really hopeful we’ll be able to obtain a sellout. Last year was the first year in 24 years that we did not have a sell out. We really are appealing to every Albertan asking for help because the STARS lottery is our single largest funding source for Alberta. It provides one-third of all operating costs for Alberta.”
Farnden said single tickets are $25 each to make it easier for everyone to participate. For tickets visit starslotteryalberta.ca.
“A sellout is so important to all of us.”