Rotterdam to hold EMS tax vote

The future of emergency services in the Town of Rotterdam will be in the hands of residents.

A yet-to-be-scheduled vote will be held regarding the proposal to create an ambulance tax district. Voter approval would pave the way for continued service by Rotterdam EMS.

The town will have a mandatory referendum affording all property owners the right to vote on the proposal to create an ambulance district for the Town of Rotterdam, said Town Supervisor Steve Tommasone.

Prior to the vote, a public hearing will be held Wednesday, Sept. 23.

"People will come forth to speak out on it. It will be like a true Town Hall meeting to give their views to the town board," said Schenectady County Legislator Joe Suhrada, R-Rotterdam, who is also running for a spot on the Rotterdam Town Board.

A final plan for the proposed taxing district was laid out at the Wednesday, Aug. 12, Rotterdam Town Board meeting. The plan would make REMS the primary EMS-ambulance provider for the town. The town is currently contracting with REMS for ambulance services and would establish a special assessment to provide funding for the service. The assessment would be based on property values throughout the town.

At the beginning of this year, there was some debate about whether to contract with the privately owned Mohawk Ambulance for emergency services or continue with the government-funded Rotterdam EMS. Staying with REMS involves the creation of a new taxing district, similar to ones used for the fire department and other public safety departments, while receiving services from Mohawk Ambulance Service would have no impact on taxpayers.

If the taxing district is voted down, according to Suhrada, there is a possibility of the town contracting with Kingsway Ambulance, "which would mean the ultimate demise of Rotterdam EMS."

Under the proposal to be voted on in the coming weeks, if approved, REMS will provide services to all properties located within the current municipal boundaries, and would serve approximately 28,316 people.

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