WEST SILOAM SPRINGS — Cherokee Nation Enterprises was revealed Tuesday as the anonymous benefactor who kept an eastern Oklahoma ambulance service operating, said Mayor Elaine Carr.
Cherokee Nation Enterprises, which operates the gaming and hospitality company of the Cherokee Nation will pay around $16,833 a month or about $202,000 year to keep Siloam Springs' ambulances coming into West Siloam Springs and the surrounding rural areas, Carr said.
Cherokee Casino, which is located in West Siloam Springs, offered to help West Siloam Springs residents temporarily until the community passes a sales tax, she said.
"I don't know what we would have done without Cherokee Casino," Carr said. “The casino is also paying $75,000 a year for the fire service contract.”
The new contract between the community and the Cherokee Nation Enterprises was signed December 31; just hours before the current contract would have expired prohibiting the service into Oklahoma.
Siloam Springs was allowing its ambulance service to cross the state line to provide service for West Siloam Springs and rural southern Delaware County, but because of a lack of money, the community was going to stop its service runs across the state line. .
“We looked into buying an ambulance, but it would cost us $450,000 and that doesn’t include paramedics or other emergency workers,” Carr said.
Siloam Springs was using tax dollars to come into Oklahoma, but Oklahoma law says that West Siloam Springs could not use state dollars to pay Arkansas for its service, she said.
Carr said the community is putting a 1-cent sales tax proposal on the April ballot. If passed, it should generate about $75,000 a year for emergency services, she said.
The community also is looking at a 3-mill school district levy for the Colcord, Moseley and Kansas, OK, school districts for emergency services, Carr said. The levy should generate around $55,000 a year, she said.