Town of Albion approves contract with Monroe Ambulance

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 15 November 2022 at 8:44 am

Albion will pay $84,400 in 1-year contract; big tax hike approved for 2023

Photo by Tom Rivers: Anna Tower (back right), treasurer for COVA Ambulance, speaks during Monday’s Town Board meeting. She questioned the board about picking Monroe over Mercy Flight EMS.

ALBION – The Albion Town Board in a 5-0 vote on Monday approved a contract with Monroe Ambulance of Rochester to provide ambulance services for the community.

Albion is one of seven towns in the contract. The contract calls for the towns to collectively pay $200,000 to Monroe. Albion will pay $84,400, or about 42.2 percent of the total.

The town hasn’t been paying towards ambulance services. That $84,400 is a big factor in the tax rates jumping in Albion in 2023. (Albion also will see a big increase in its budget for a town-wide reassessment next year, and the town will replenish its reserve funds.)

The Town Board also approved next year’s budget on Monday. Tax rates will go from $3.09 per $1,000 of assessed value for village properties in 2022 to $4.69 in 2023, while outside-village properties will go from $4.17 to $6.27 per $1,000. (The owner of a house assessed for $100,000 in the village will pay $160 more in town taxes while the owner of a $100,000 property outside the village will pay $210 more in town taxes.)

Anna Tower, treasurer for COVA Ambulance, asked the board why it’s going with Monroe, when Mercy Flight EMS is willing to provide ambulance services for central Orleans. Mercy Flight is taking over in the short term after COVA closes. Nearly all of the COVA staff will become Mercy employees for at least the short-term.

Town Supervisor Richard Remley said officials from the seven towns have had several meetings with Monroe, which currently is the primary ambulance provider for Clarendon, Murray and Kendall in eastern Orleans. The central Orleans towns – Albion, Barre, Gaines and Carlton – joined with them in a seven-town block to negotiate a contract.

Monroe has agreed to station an ambulance in Albion and Holley as part of the contract, and can draw on other ambulances in Brockport and Greece if there is a need for more.

Jason Dragon, a village resident, said the plan for two ambulances to serve seven towns seems like a drop in service for Albion because COVA typically had two ambulances in service the past 43 years.

“I’m very confident it won’t be less than what we have now,” Remley said about the Monroe service.

The contract calls for Monroe to start on Jan. 1 for the seven-town block. Officials from the towns will meet with Monroe leaders in August or September next year to evaluate response times and discuss if the one-year contract will be extended, Remley said.

Dragon also asked when Albion is paying such a high percentage of the overall contract. He said other agreements among multiple towns divvy up the share based on either population or tax base. In this agreement, the percentage is based on call volume in each town.

“It seems to be disproportionately affecting the Town of Albion,” Dragon said. “I’m concerned we’ll be establishing a precedent for other contracts.”

Dick DeCarlo, another resident who spoke at the public hearing, asked if Mercy Flight offered to provide the service at lower cost. Remley said Mercy Flight’s proposal was about $15,000 less than Monroe’s $200,000 contract.

But Remley said Mercy Flight is coming in very late in the process, “at the 11 and a half hour.”

The seven town leaders drafted a contract for one year to allow for them to revisit the level of service. Remley said Mercy Flight could be considered as an option in the future.

“We’re at the 11th hour and we’re not going to take it back to the drawing table,” he said about opening talks with Mercy Flight EMS.

Mike Gugliuzza, director of medical operations for Mercy Flight EMS, attended the meeting on Monday and said the organization would like to be considered as a primary ambulance provider. He said Mercy Flight would stage three ambulances in the service area.

Anna Tower urged the town officials to go with Mercy Flight, which will station out of COVA’s base and keep the COVA staff – at a lower cost than the towns have to pay Monroe.

“Inflation is hurting a lot of people,” she said. “It doesn’t seem like you’re working for us.”

Monroe hasn’t said where it will be stationing ambulances in Albion or Holley. Remley said Monroe would like to hire COVA staff for its service in Orleans County.

The Town Board approved the contract with yes votes from Remley and board members Darlene Benton, Sandra Bensley, Terry Wilbert and Arnold Allen Jr.