Advertisement

Moriah Ambulance Squad proposes tax district

Mar. 30—MORIAH — The Moriah Ambulance Squad has asked the Town of Moriah to create a taxing district for the squad.

The squad says its volunteers have been falling off, and paid EMTs, a new ambulance and a new headquarters are needed.

The EMS Special Improvement District would have its own tax rate to be added to town tax bills annually.

TAX COST

The squad petitioned the Moriah Town Council to set a public vote and submitted a map plan and report, along with a 2025 estimated budget.

Based on a 2025 budget of $558,750, minus $220,000 in billing fees and $20,000 in donations, a tax levy of $318,750 would generate a tax rate of $1.34 per $1,000 of assessed value.

That means someone with a home assessed at $100,000 would pay an extra $134 in property taxes annually.

The squad currently gets its funding from patient billing, donations and a $59,000 annual service contract with the town.

'AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE'

Moriah Town Supervisor Matthew Brassard said he supports the formation of an EMS District.

"We have to have ambulance service," he said. "Someone in cardiac arrest or having a stroke needs an ambulance as quickly as possible."

The council accepted the squad's request at its March meeting, and Brassard said a public hearing has been scheduled for 5 p.m. on Thursday, April 18 at the Port Henry Knights of Columbus hall on Main Street.

"The ambulance will give a presentation, there will be public comment, and after the public comment we'd put it on the November ballot," Brassard said. "If a lot of people are opposed we may ask them (the squad) to review their figures."

If that happens, the squad would have to trim its budget request, Brassard said.

"If the (town) board says they need to go back and redo numbers, they'd go back, then file another report with Rose (Rice, town clerk). We have time (to set a vote)."

In that case, a second public hearing would be held. The public vote would be at the Tuesday, Nov. 5 general election.

"The biggest negative thing I've heard so far is why do they need a building?" Brassard said. "They had a building."

TWO OPTIONS

The squad sold its building at Moriah Center several years ago and moved into a smaller structure at the Moriah fire station. The reason given at the time was that the ambulance garage at Moriah Center needed expensive maintenance.

But the squad had different leadership then, Brassard said, and the current officers have to base their plans on what they have now.

"If they don't get the district they'll end up having to dissolve," he said. "We have two options: form a district with a budget or we contract with Lamoille (Ambulance Service)."

He said he's checking with Lamoille Ambulance Service on a price. Lamoille has a regional base in Ticonderoga.

"Lamoille may be cheaper but it would be a 15 to 20 minute call time from Ticonderoga," Brassard said. "You might save $50,000 or $60,000 a year but it would be a longer response time."

RESPONSE TIMES

The squad currently has a response time of seven to 10 minutes, according to Captain Michael Moran. The squad had 600 calls in 2023, an increase of 150 over the previous year.

Squad Assistant Captain Dakotah Olcott said they have 20 members on the roster: three non-riding administration members; nine EMTs; three Advanced-EMTs; four drivers; and one attendant only. He said all but six of those are paid.

The 2025 budget lists $120,000 for Moriah EMS payroll and another $210,000 for Essex County EMTs.

"Our line budget for Essex County staff is to pay for three Essex County EMTs that are stationed at Moriah EMS full time," Olcott said. "Two are EMTs and one A-EMT. The county pays for those employee benefits, and Moriah EMS pays the wages.

"To simplify it, the county is a staffing agency providing staff to Moriah EMS," he continued. "Eighty-five percent of our budget is payroll costs and without staff, we would not be able to roll the ambulance."

A 2024 Ford F-550 4x4 Type 1 Ambulance has been ordered from Vander Molen Fire Apparatus Sales and Service of Ballston Lake with expected delivery in Spring 2026. The squad's last new vehicle was in 2016.

"We'll see where it (the hearing) goes," Brassard said "I have till September to decide whether to put it on the ballot. We're trying to be as transparent as possible.

"We'll do the best we can. It's not an option not to have ambulance service."