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New Scotland Archives The Altamont Enterprise, November 3, 2011
Billing unresolved for village and ambulance squad
By Jo E. Prout
VOORHEESVILLE The village board and the Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service met last week to hammer out their 2012 contract, but failed to resolve whether or not the town of New Scotland or the village should handle the ambulance service’s billing.
The two groups met in September and, again, last week to discuss billing, required reports, and the squad’s proposed 2012 operating budget.
The Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service serves both the town of New Scotland, and the village of Voorheesville within the town.
Terence Hannigan, an attorney for the ambulance squad, said that throughout Albany County towns are taking over billing for ambulance service. Currently, he said, many squads bill for transportation, but they may soon also bill for Advanced Life Support, or ALS, services.
“We’re getting to a point where… if there’s a more efficient way” to bill, “it makes sense to do it on a townwide basis,” Hannigan said.
Village board member John Stevens, a driver with the ambulance service, said that the village sponsors the Length of Service Awards Program, which provides benefits for its fire and ambulance volunteers. He questioned whether the town would take over LOSAP if it takes over billing for the ambulance.
Mayor Robert Conway said that he would speak with town Supervisor Thomas Dolin, but he suggested that the ambulance billing was not a priority for the town. Ambulance squad members disagreed with Conway’s assessment.
“If the town wants this, why doesn’t the town come get it?” said board member Richard Cardona.
Village Attorney Anne-Jo McTague said that she had not heard from any town official about the billing.
“We weren’t interested in giving up the ambulance,” Cardona said. Now, he said, “I think we need to talk to the town.”
Previously, the village board had budgeted about $40,000 per year for the ambulance service, and revenues from the squad had been returned throughout the year to the village. Under the current agreement for coverage, the village pays 40 percent of the squad’s budget, and the town of New Scotland pays 60 percent.
Stevens asked Conway to speak to the town board before it votes on the ambulance billing.
“We’re spinning our wheels, here. We’re killing this thing,” Stevens said.
According to the ambulance volunteers, the squad currently has 25 active members.
In September, the village board agreed to accept quarterly reports from the ambulance, instead of monthly reports. Board members had not understood that the town received quarterly reports, and that the village requirement resulted in more work for the ambulance volunteers, the board said.
The 2012 ambulance budget has a $450 increase over last year, while its operating budget declined slightly, members said.
The squad is upgrading its uniform jackets over three years, with a $5,000 portion budgeted now for the next three years, for a total cost of $15,000. The squad will use funds from its capital improvement fund to borrow monies to pay for this year’s portion, they said.