Full-time ambulance service would almost certainly require a large increase in property or income taxes.
By WILLIAM K. ALCORN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
MCDONALD -- Full-time ambulance service for the village would cost between $321,000 and $578,000 a year, depending on whether the eight full-time employees needed were paid $10 per hour or $20 per hour.
An expenditure of that size would almost certainly require a large additional property tax levy or income tax increase, said John Evans Jr., a former fire chief and a member of the five-member committee who reviewed the ambulance situation.
A five-man committee, appointed by Mayor James Border to review emergency ambulance options, presented its report to council at its meeting Wednesday.
The report does not make recommendations, but contains facts and figures, such as numbers of calls answered in various years, and the estimated costs of providing full-time ambulance service.
At present, the village pays two emergency medical technicians to man ambulances from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, and depends on volunteers the remainder of the time.
Figures: Councilman Thomas Hannon, who chaired the ambulance committee, estimated full-time ambulance service, in which eight employees were paid $10 per hour, would cost $321,582 per year.
He said it would take 8.1 mills of additional property tax or a 1 percent increase in income tax to generate that much money.
But, Hannon said, it is not just an economic decision; it is also an emotional decision. He believes a general council work session will be needed to assess and discuss the report's findings and decide what to do.
Other committee members are Councilman Joseph Ryan, Assistant Fire Chief David Friend, and Owen Ague, a longtime McDonald fireman.
Options: Evans said the committee met five times and considered such issues as whether the ambulance should stay as it is, become full-time, or go back to the original concept of just doing the best that can be done with volunteers.
Friend said the committee does not feel the present arrangement is fair. If residents need emergency ambulance service during the hours when paid EMTs are not available, they might not have quick service because of the wait for volunteers or an out-of-town ambulance service.
Evans said no one on the committee believes full-time service is economically feasible, but neither was there consensus on what should be done.
"I'm glad I don't have to make the decision. It's going to be tough," he said.