The City Council voted this summer to charge Tracy residents a $300 fee every time a firefighter gives aid during an emergency medical call.
But it asked for a private company to handle billing residents, and four responded, Tracy Fire Department Chief Chris Bosch said. The companies vying for the contract are medical billing companies, he added.
The council is expected to choose one of the four companies at its Nov. 17 meeting, according to the fire chief.
At a time of falling sales and property tax income for the city, the fee is a way to raise money for the department.
Both the Tracy Rural Fire Department and the board of the Mountain House Community Services District, which recently voted to increase taxes there by 4 percent, voted not to adopt the new fee.
Tracy Rural’s department already had a fee for out-of-town residents, and its board voted to go ahead and raise that fee to $300, the same as Tracy’s fire department.
It rejected the fee for residents inside the district’s boundaries, however, as did the Mountain House board, which means Tracy residents will pay $300 for the same service that those who call for help outside city limits get for no extra fee.
The city will offer a $48-per-year rate to help ease the cost of paramedics for those who may require assistance. If someone in Tracy pays the yearly rate, that person can call a firefighter paramedic as many times as needed with no extra charge.
Also, low-income residents will get a break on the yearly rate. They’ll pay $36 per year if the council votes to OK the fee next month.
Tracy will try to market its fee by mailing fliers with water bills and through newspaper and other advertising.
Bosch said he expects the fee to generate as much as $650,000 for the fire department, which responds to about 6,000 calls per year, 4,200 of which are emergency medical calls, he said.
The company that wins the bid will be paid through the fee as well, receiving 15 percent of each bill it collects.