Decision likely to come down to a public vote
The public will decide the future of Rotterdam's emergency services during a tax district vote, but that vote has yet to be scheduled.
Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services and Mohawk Ambulance Service presented their proposals to the Town Board on Wednesday, Sept. 15, before a packed room of residents and emergency service personnel from both companies.
Supervisor Francis Del Gallo said if residents approve the tax district, then REMS will continue providing emergency services to the town, but if they vote it down, then the own will go with Mohawk, a for-profit company.
We are planning to have a vote and let the taxpayers decide whether they want a tax district or not, said Del Gallo. "If they want to pay taxes for this, they'll vote yes, if they don't, they'll vote no."
Town Attorney Michael Godlewski said that even with a public vote, anything relating to the ambulance contract would be subject to formal board approval.
Many of the residents said they were concerned about approving a tax district to keep REMS service and then having the contract awarded to Mohawk.
Richard Brandt, vice president of operations at Mohawk Ambulance Service, said that is not something his company is interested in either.
"We don't want a nickel of taxpayer money," said Brandt. "We're not asking for a tax district. We don't need funding from the tax district. We're self-sufficient."
Godlewski said lawyers are still looking into the legality of designating REMS as the only organization to be associated with the taxing district on the upcoming ballot. Town Attorney Joseph Liccardi said he is waiting for a response from the New York State Attorney General's Office before commenting on the matter.
Schenectady County Legislator Anthony Jasenski, D-Rotterdam, gave to presentation for REMS and explained the history of the nonprofit organization dating back to 1936.