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Voorheesville ambulance contract talks stabilize

Village and service company near agreement after sheriff intervenes

From right, Voorheesville Mayor Robert Conway, Trustee David Cardona and Deputy Mayor Richard Berger on Tuesday, Nov. 26, discuss Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service contract negotiations progress with the village attorney.

From right, Voorheesville Mayor Robert Conway, Trustee David Cardona and Deputy Mayor Richard Berger on Tuesday, Nov. 26, discuss Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service contract negotiations progress with the village attorney. Photo by John Purcell.

— There was new language added into the proposed contract, spurred by the meeting with Apple, that would have the town, village and VAAS study and develop a comprehensive plan for townwide ambulance services. The contract language also states such a townwide plan would be implemented by 2015.

“Our ultimate goal is to reach a long-term planning process for the future of the agency to be able to cover the Village of Voorheesville and Town of New Scotland,” VAAS Captain Ray Ginter said. “We need to move forward with the times, the volunteerism, the money aspect … to make sure the residents have a viable ambulance service that they can rely on.”

The only reservation expressed by some village board members was implementing the townwide plan by 2015. Conway said the board agrees to the concept though, but worries it could take longer to implement.

“It is definitely something that needs to be addressed and looked at long term,” Conway said. “It is not going to happen overnight, but I think it is definitely the way it will be handled down the road.”

An agreement has not been reached over how reserve funds would be handled, which was the main sticking point for village board members during this year’s contract negotiations.

The village board reluctantly awarded approximately $8,800 in reserve funds to the ambulance company to finalize this year’s contract after refusing to approve the funds for several months. Board members indicated they would prefer municipalities handle such funds going forward and distribute the money to the company when needed, such as when purchasing a new ambulance.

Conway said the village has been in touch with the state comptroller’s office and other professional organizations to evaluate how the municipalities could hold reserve funds and then transfer them to the company.

“That has not been fully vetted at this point,” Conway said. “My impression … is the ambulance service is open to that discussion.”

Conway said the contract is similar to what was proposed by the village last summer before its changes were removed to end negotiations.

“Some of the language changes are language that we had offered up last year, but ended up pulling it,” Conway said. “There is definitely a movement towards common ground there.”

The Voorheesville Board of Trustees’ next regular meeting will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m., with the board’s workshop meeting held earlier that night at 6 p.m.

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