Ambulance service legislation passes Assembly

By WKTV News

Assemblymember Anthony J. Brindisi has announced that legislation he wrote to remove the automatic two-year review process regarding municipal-based emergency medical and first-responder services has passed the New York State Assembly.

"Over the last two years, our municipal ambulance service has been a great success in our area," Assemblymember Brindisi said. "This service has been vital to those needing an ambulance and has brought in over $900,000 to our city. Every million dollars the city can offset can save taxpayers approximately five percent in tax revenue. This savings and the health of our families shouldn't be compromised due to government bureaucracy."

Currently, New York allows a two-year trial window for all municipal-based emergency medical and first-responder services to operate. After the two-year period, the local government that offers these services is subject to a costly and unnecessary review process to prove that these extra city services are needed in their region.

Assemblymember Brindisi says that his legislation would allow municipalities and fire districts across the state to apply for permanent certification to operate local emergency ambulance services without proving public need as long as these services meet the appropriate training, staffing and equipment standards mandated by the state.

"We should be supporting programs that provide important services to the public and help our city's economic future, not getting rid of them," Assemblymember Brindisi said. "we have spent time and money training municipal employees in advanced life support and we have the appropriate equipment to provide these services. The enactment of this legislation will save taxpayers more of their hard-earned money by providing additional revenue to the City of Utica and decrease local taxes. "

The bill, Brindisi says, is supported by the NYS Professional Firefighters Association, Unshackle Upstate and the NYS Conference of Mayors and Municipal Officials; and now awaits passage in the State Senate, where it is currently in the Health Committee.

Robert Palmieri, Mayor of Utica, said, "I am thrilled that the Assembly has passed Assemblyman Brindisi's bill. I look forward to a similar outcome in the State Senate. Cities like Utica that have demonstrated the ability to deliver emergency medical services effectively and efficiently should not be hindered from doing so by a cumbersome state bureaucracy. We have proven ourselves beyond question."

Utica Councilman Frank Vescera had previously asked Assemblymember Brindisi to vote down the bill and is still asking Senator Joseph Griffo to do the same, saying the speed at which the bill was moving through the legislative process did not provide adequate time for the public's input.

"This prevents time for needed public input & thoughtful discussion and raises an obvious question of - why are elected officials in Utica going against the tide and introducing and supporting legislation that allows for the continuation of huge unaffordable overtime costs to the City thusly expanding its government footprint," Vescera said in a letter to Griffo and Brindisi. "The City of Utica has had to bond to pay for huge past pension increases and this legislation will insure that pension padding burdens upon Utica taxpayers will go unchecked; something Governor Cuomo has continually cautioned against. All this will take place against the backdrop of a city that has had its bond rating lowered 3 times since February of this year. The questionable timing of this legislation apparently ignores these unprecedented events."

Vescera says that patients requiring medical attention by the city of Utica ambulance service are "being grossly overcharged" and said that Utica Common Council legislation attempting to address the alleged overcharging issues has not been successful.

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