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Ambulance contract signed amid heated debate

Voorheesville approves amended contract, company argues for reserve funds

Denise Garrah, chairwoman of the Voorheesville Area Ambulance Company’s Board of Directors, describes how much the service costs her annually as a New Scotland resident at the village board’s Tuesday, July 23, meeting.

Denise Garrah, chairwoman of the Voorheesville Area Ambulance Company’s Board of Directors, describes how much the service costs her annually as a New Scotland resident at the village board’s Tuesday, July 23, meeting. Photo by John Purcell.

— For this year, the debate has concluded over Voorheesville’s contract with its local ambulance service, but next year’s debate appears to have already begun.

Village Board of Trustees members did not shy away from their criticism of how Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service officials handled contract negotiations before agreeing, seemingly out of frustration, to approve awarding approximately $8,800 in reserve funding. Denise Garrah, chairwoman of the company’s Board of Directors, on Tuesday, July 23, expressed the service’s displeasure of how village officials handled contract negotiations and stressed the necessity for disputed reserve funding, which was the only point of contention during negotiations.

“We haven’t blinked in providing EMS service to the village, with or without a contract,” Garrah said. “That’s not who we are. We are also this community; we, the volunteers, live here.”

She said the service continued to process insurance claims as usual and said its submitted insurance report reflects it.

The board, before Garrah commented at the meeting, approved a slightly revised contract from what was approved during its June 25 meeting after the company submitted one it approved.

The terms remained essentially the same, but eliminated the implicit language directing the company’s assets be turned over to the village if it ceased operating.

Garrah claims the village failed to notify the company before changes were proposed in its contract. The new contract requires the village to notify the company within 60 days if any changes are being proposed. Also, 14-day notice will be required if matters pertaining to the service are on the village board’s agenda.

“It is to avert what has regularly happened; the village notifies us of changes to an existing contract just days before it expires. This past one was just a week and a half,” Garrah said. “You can’t have a dialogue if you don’t know you’re being discussed. … You can’t have a dialogue if you don’t reach out even though we’re physically (about) 50 feet apart.”

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