Ambulance district formed

Fingers crossed on equipment negotiations

By LAURIE STUART
Posted 11/16/21

ELDRED, NY --  Attorney Brad Pinsky knows about the creation of ambulance and fire districts. His Syracuse law firm specializes in setting them up throughout New York State. Pinsky was on hand …

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Ambulance district formed

Fingers crossed on equipment negotiations

Posted

ELDRED, NY --  Attorney Brad Pinsky knows about the creation of ambulance and fire districts. His Syracuse law firm specializes in setting them up throughout New York State. Pinsky was on hand as the expert at the November 9 Town of Highland Public Hearing, where residents discussed establishing one within the town.

Highland has been on a fast track to establish a taxing district, as it received a letter in August from the American Legion Post stating that as of December 31, the organization would no longer hold the contract with the town for ambulance service. Since then, the town has applied for and received a certificate of need through the state, and with the November 9 motion to create a taxing district, the town is well on its way to add a separate taxing line through Town Law 198-F, establishing a special taxing district. This gives the town the authority to contract with an ambulance service and a transparent mechanism to fund it through a separate tax on resident’s yearly town tax bill.

“Upon passage of the resolution to establish one, it can be set up within 30 days,” Pinsky said. That would be well before the December 31 deadline.

But setting up the district is not the sticking point in providing ambulance service for the town. Nor is the creation of an ambulance service, which is well underway. The difficulty is the negotiations between the American Legion Post and the new entity called the Highland Ambulance Service.

“It’s not certain that this ambulance service will be able to operate. We’re in negotiations,” said Barryville attorney Michael Frey, who is working to establish the new nonprofit volunteer ambulance corps. While negotiations are confidential, at issue is the equipment and use of the space that must be available for the new ambulance service to be able to operate.

And it’s questionable whether these details can be worked out in time.

“There are parallel tracks going on,” Pinsky said. “If we have an agreement, it can be taken care of in time.” But if there is no agreement, the town will have to contract with a for-profit service, “which could be very costly,” he said.

Whatever the outcome, the town board assured the small audience of about 20 residents, the town will have a contract with an ambulance corps that can serve the town come the December 31 deadline.

The establishment of the ambulance district, according to Pinsky, gives the taxpayer transparency as to how much money the town is expending for ambulance service. Not unlike the special taxing district for the fire departments and the library, a dedicated taxing line shows whether the costs have gone up or down. The amount of money needed to be raised in taxes, Town Attorney Michael Davidoff said, would remain the same as in years past, approximately $33,000. Pinsky recommended that all contracts that the town enters into with the ambulance service be in one-year increments.

Another benefit, Pinsky said, is that town residents will have their co-pay, which is generally $25 to $50 for ambulance service, picked up by the monies that the town will contract with the service.

Following the 30-minute public hearing, the town board voted unanimously to approve the resolution and establish the ambulance taxing district.

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