BURKE –– Representatives from the proposed EMS service for Burke, Chateaugay and part of Belmont will meet Thursday night at the Burke Town Hall to continue hashing out the details of the proposal.
The meeting will not be open to the public.
Burke Town Board members announced the meeting at their regular board session on Tuesday, saying there are still a lot of questions about how the combined, paid ambulance corps would operate –– and expressing hope the meeting might provide some answers.
Some of the questions raised by the Town Board members included how a single EMS service could get from one rural part of town to another in a reasonable response time.
“You are trying to service two and half towns out of one location and it will not work,” said board member Arnold Lobdell.
Organizers of the service had previously discussed using volunteers to help support the paid EMS personnel, but Lobdell says logistically it will not work.
“You tell me how you are going to get up three minutes on Moody Road from Chateaugay,” said Lobdell.
“It is not going to happen.”
Another question with the service is the cost, and while members of the Burke Town Board agree taxes will need to be raised to pay for it, some wonder just how high they will need to go.
Bellmont Supervisor H. Bruce Russell, at a meeting at which his board agreed to participate in the service, estimated the cost could amount to $400,000 –– although Russell also noted that removing the EMS service from the participating fire departments should produce offsetting savings.
“The are only scratching the service with that $400,000, when you take that $400,000 and they give us a dollar fifty two per thousand as a starting point you know how much to raises taxes by … it is 18% for the town of Burke,” said Lobdell.
While all of the Burke town board members agreed that an EMS service is needed, some wonder of raising taxes is the only answer.
“I just think raising taxes 18% on landowners for this service that will only cover individuals is unfair to property owners,” said Lobdell.
Other questions raised Tuesday included if the corps should be a nonprofit entity and if the service should operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
“I think they need to come up with a lot more information on this project,” said Lobdell.
Currently, ambulance service in both Burke town and village is provided by the Burke Volunteer Fire Department, while the service in both Chateaugay communities is provided by the Chateaugay Volunteer Fire Department.
The two departments also serve different portions of northern Bellmont; the Owls Head-Mountain View Volunteer Fire Department provides EMS services in the southern part of the town.