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Del Gallo pulls the pump on tax-free gas for REMS

County attorney disputes claim that provider purchased diesel fuel from county

REMS is looking elsewhere to fill its gas tanks since Rotterdam Town Supervisor Frank Del Gallo pulled the plug on the ambulance service provider's access to tax-free diesel fuel.

Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services had been receiving fuel tax free from the town, but with taxpayer funding for REMS being cut from the town budget, Del Gallo said the not-for-profit organization must look elsewhere to fill its ambulances.

On Tuesday, Jan. 4, Del Gallo sent Joe Vanderwerker, president of REMS board of directors, an e-mail asking for the fuel key to be immediately returned to the town, according to Frank Salamone, attorney for REMS. On the morning of Thursday, Jan. 6, the key stopped working, said Salamone.

It seems counterintuitive to try to make it even more difficult for a nonprofit ambulance service provider to provide service for the town that it is in charge for serving and protecting, said Salamone.

Del Gallo said that with the failed tax district vote, which would have paid for REMS to continue, the future of the organization is unclear.

"They don't have a contract to get fuel so they can't get it," said Del Gallo.

Salamone said REMS had to purchase fuel from a Hess station on Thursday, adding an additional expense for REMS. The tax-free fuel price is established by the state rate, which fluctuates based on the current price of fuel before taxes, said Salamone. In the beginning of December, said Salamone, REMS was paying $2.58 for diesel fuel from Rotterdam and at the end of the month REMS paid $2.92.

"There are others ways, because they are a nonprofit, for them to attain fuel," said Salamone.

If REMS purchased a fuel contract with a private gas station, he said, the organization would still have to pay full price, but through filed quarterly IRS reports REMS could be reimbursed. Gas was previously purchased by REMS through agreements between White Eagle Ambulance Service and Rotterdam Volunteer Emergency Medical Corp with the town, which were the two organizations consolidated to form REMS.

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