Press-Republican

November 13, 2012

Ambulance options complicate Jay budget

By LOHR McKINSTRY
Press-Republican

---- — JAY – The Town of Jay’s proposed budget for next year is up almost 5 percent so AuSable Forks Ambulance Service can hire paid personnel.

The proposed increase to the ambulance contract would hike the town tax levy by 4.82 percent in 2013.

Without the increase, the amount to be raised by taxes would increase only 1.5 percent.

The ambulance squad wants to hire paid emergency-medical technicians to handle hours when volunteer coverage is sparse, which would increase the town budget by $85,351.

HEARING WEDNESDAY

The Jay Town Council was presented with a budget with both options and will have to decide which to pass, Supervisor Randy Douglas said.

The public hearing on the tentative budget is at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 14, in the town meeting room at the Jay Community Center in AuSable Forks.

A special Town Council meeting will follow at 7 p.m. to vote on the spending plan.

Jay and Black Brook, the other town in the ambulance service area, held a combined public-information session in October to take input on the proposal.

“Numerous residents from Jay and Black Brook were in attendance, to express their feelings in favor or opposed to the proposed AuSable Forks Ambulance contract increase,” Douglas said in a press release.

“The increase would allow the ambulance squad to provide 24/7 coverage, which seems to be in demand. However, this increase will affect both towns’ 2013 budgets.”

TAX-CAP OVERRIDE

In order to accept the budget that includes the ambulance contract increase, the town held a public hearing Nov. 8 to authorize the town to override the state tax cap, if needed.

“Supervisor Douglas asked that I prepare two preliminary budget options for our town board to discuss at the public hearing,” Supervisor’s Clerk/Budget Officer Susan Richards said in the release.

“Option 1 includes the proposed increase of $85,351 to the ambulance contract, and Option 2 is without the increase, remaining the same as last year.”

RISING COSTS

Douglas said some significant impacts on the town budget included rising State Retirement Fund and health-insurance costs.

He said the employer contribution for workers in the state system will increase from 18.9 percent of salaries to 20.9 percent, a state-mandated 134 percent increase in five years. Jay’s share was $49,372 in 2009, and it will be $115,791 for 2013.

“I feel that the town board and budget officer have put together a very frugal and financially sound budget for 2013,” Douglas said. “Town officials, DPW Director Chris Garrow and I have worked together under tough conditions to offset the budget while still trying to recover physically, financially and emotionally from Irene.

RAISES

“Our employees have seen their first raise in three years,” Douglas said.

Town employees and elected officials will get 3 percent increases in the budget.

SPECIAL DISTRICTS

The 2013 budget includes three water districts; AuSable Forks Sewer District; AuSable Forks Ambulance, which serves the entire town under a contract; and two libraries.

Three fire districts, Jay, Upper Jay and AuSable, are included in the budget, but they are separate taxing entities and have their own tax caps, which they stayed under.

The budget totals $2.6 million in appropriations, including all special districts.

The tax levy is $1.4 million, up $30,565 over last time, not including any special districts.

The levy with the ambulance increase would be $1.57 million; without the ambulance hike, $1.52 million.

Email Lohr McKinstry: lmckinstry@pressrepublican.com