With a town-wide ambulance district scheduled to go into effect in less than five months, Walden still has no plans for ambulance service.
The village is not part of the recently-created ambulance district that will serve the unincorporated portion of the town, as well as the villages of Maybrook and Montgomery. While the other municipalities voted to opt in to the taxing district that will go into effect on January 1, 2023, Walden officials declined, citing too many unanswered questions and the need for more due diligence in determining a route to ambulance service. Now, after having met with the town’s new ambulance consultant, Walden officials say they are no closer to a decision.
“We don’t have a plan, to be honest with you,” said Mayor John Ramos last week, in response to a question from Trustee Becky Pearson at the village board meeting. “We’ve been hitting a brick wall ever since this started.”
Ramos said the village is at the same point it was seven or eight months ago, when the discussion about the proposed ambulance district began. Following presentations earlier this year, the Montgomery Village Board immediately and unanimously approved participation in the district, while Maybrook opted in with a 3-2 vote, over the objections of Mayor Dennis Leahy. The Village of Walden was - and remains - the lone holdout.
Walden officials pressed the Town of Montgomery to hire a consultant to help sort out some of the issues. After several delays, the town hired Emergency Management Resources, LLC, based in the capital district. The consultants recently met with the Montgomery Town Board. They recommended that the town issue a request for proposals with several options for ambulance service. The town has not yet done so.
“We expected the consultants to be a little more detailed than what they presented to us,” Ramos said.
It is anticipated that the Town of Montgomery Ambulance Corps will issue a proposal for service to the district, either on their own or in concert with an Advanced Life Support (ALS) provider. The town ambulance corps currently does not provide ALS service, but has a long-term goal of adding it. In the interim, the district could choose to contract with a separate ALS provider in addition to the Basic Life Support Service (BLS) provided by the town ambulance corps.
“If we choose to contract with that model, then obviously we’re going to have to opt in to the tax district,” Ramos said.
That may not happen soon. The new district’s tax map has been drawn to exclude the Village of Walden. And while the Montgomery Town Board had originally planned to budget $800,000 for the district, that was when it was anticipated that Walden would be a part. It is not.
The other option for Walden is to contract directly for ambulance service. No one in the village seems to know how much that would cost. Though it seems unlikely that the village would contract with a provider other than the Town of Montgomery Ambulance Corps, it does have that option.
While Walden officials seem unsure as to what will happen next, most seem to agree that some decisions will need to be made soon,
“We have to come up with our options,” said Deputy Mayor Willie Carley.
The town ambulance corps currently receives $150,000 from the Town of Montgomery’s general fund, which taxes all town property owners, including those from the three villages. Town Supervisor Brian Maher has said that once the ambulance district is created, that funding will disappear.