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Rotterdam EMS to hold fundraiser

Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services, or REMS, is holding a fundraiser to help with the organization's financial obligations and debt-reduction efforts. The fundraiser started Wednesday, April 15, and its ending date is to be announced.

According to Gary Bonk, fundraiser chairman, REMS inherited a substantial amount of debt when it was formed through separate emergency medical services in the town combining into one service.

What this fundraiser is for is to try to take care of some of that debt, said Bonk.

A letter sent out to the residents of Rotterdam asking for a donation described the history of REMS, and reads, "unfortunately, the previous management operated REMS without a contract with either Rotterdam or Princetown. REMS was left with massive debt, which must be managed and paid off."

According to Joe Vanderwerker, president of REMS' board, a substantial portion of the inherited debt includes $300,000 owed to the IRS. This total includes fines and penalties due to quarterly payments that weren't made. According to Vanderwerker, the original debt inherited by REMS without these fines and penalties was $100,000, and REMS is working aggressively to reduce that amount. Once it is cleared, REMS will be in "really good shape," said Vanderwerker.

The letter went on to say "the total of the monthly stipends from the two Town Boards, Medicare payments, and Insurance company payments does not meet REMS' current financial need, mainly due to the debt service required.

While Bonk was unable to confirm the total amount of debt that REMS faces, he said that fundraisers like this are not uncommon.

"Fire departments generally do one every year like this, and any ambulance group [in] the state does this kind of thing every year," said Bonk.

REMS just finished a fundraiser in the Town of Princetown. Vanderwerker said that with 843 letters sent, 131 resident responses came in with donations ranging from $5 to $500, yielding a total of $4,773.

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