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Board blinks on ambulance contract

Voorheesville negotiations flatline, board awards funding despite objections

The Village Board of Trustees awarded Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service reserve funding in its this year after contract negotiations were stalled for several months.

The Village Board of Trustees awarded Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service reserve funding in its this year after contract negotiations were stalled for several months. Photo by John Purcell.

Months of inactivity in negotiations between Voorheesville and its local ambulance service provider ended with contentious reserve funding being awarded — for this year, at least.

Despite opposition from a majority of the Voorheesville Board of Trustees towards approximately $8,800 in reserve funding in the Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service’s contract this year, the board awarded the money at its June 25 meeting. The reserve account is typically used for vehicle purchases and capital projects. The vote was 3-1, with Deputy Mayor Richard Berger absent from the meeting.

Some officials are accusing the ambulance company of stonewalling contract negotiations, forcing the village to approve the spending to get a contract in place. The previous contract expired at the end of 2012.

“There was some fairly heated discussion on the board about what to do and how to move forward. The bottom line is … the board elected to pay the reserve money to the ambulance (company) in order to move forward,” Mayor Robert Conway said. “None of the board members who voted in favor of it where happy about it and all expressed their concern and displeasure. I think the general consensus was for the wellbeing of the village and its residents that we need to put it behind us and move on.”

Since March, Conway said the village has “really had no contact” with the ambulance service provider. The village had contacted the company since March trying to set up another meeting, but its efforts have been unsuccessful, he said. Conway said the company had been intractable when it came to the issue of reserve funding.

“We felt like we were dealing with an entity that didn’t want to deal with us and I think we felt we were being held hostage,” Conway said. “I think it was very difficult for the board to go ahead and give them the money.”

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