NY city council to vote on launching new city-run ambulance service

A vote this week will decide on creating a new 25-person city ambulance department that would take over service now provided by a private company


The Citizen, Auburn, N.Y.

AUBURN, N.Y. — The Auburn City Council is scheduled to vote this week on whether to create a new 25-person city ambulance department that would take over service now provided by a private company.

A resolution to authorize the city manager to "establish an ambulance service for the City of Auburn, which shall include, without limitation, the employment of necessary personnel and procurement of equipment for the operation of said services," is on the agenda for Thursday's council meeting. If approved, the city expects to begin operating its ambulance department on Nov. 1.

The vote follows a presentation City Manager Jeff Dygert gave the council last month in which he proposed the new service in lieu of signing a long-term contract with a private ambulance service provider. Since 2006, the city has contracted with TLC Emergency Medical Services for ambulance coverage under the city's certificate of need, which it secured from the state shortly before hiring TLC.

Dygert said the city has had concerns with TLC's service in recent years, which prompted officials to put out a request for proposals in late 2019. But instead of picking a private provider from the responses, Dygert outlined a plan in early 2020 for a city-run ambulance service. That plan's consideration was then put on hold due to the coronavirus emergency until Dygert brought it back to the council in May 2021.

Dygert said the city would run its own ambulance service with a staff of 25 full-time paramedics and EMTs. He said it could be funded fully from revenues that come from fees charged to users of the service.

Lon Fricano, longtime director of operations in Auburn, sent Auburn city councilors an email earlier this month questioning the viability of Dygert's plan. Fricano said high costs structurally built into a municipally run service would make it impossible to operate without taxpayer subsidy.

Fricano also defended the service that TLC has provided, saying it has handled 90,523 emergency and non-emergency without a formal complaint.

Fricano urged the city council to have an independent analysis done of the city's plan before making the change.

But if the council moves forward with the city-run ambulance department, Fricano said, TLC will work with the city to ensure a safe transition.

Another resolution on Thursday's agenda extends the current short-term contract with TLC, which is due to expire at the end of June, through Oct. 31.

"At that time, the City will begin providing ambulance services within the City of Auburn," the extension resolution states.

The resolution authorizing the creation of the new service does not include any financial details for the plan. In the "fiscal implications" section of a memo to council from city corporation counsel Stacy DeForrest that is attached to the resolution, no dollar figures are included. Instead, it notes that the resolution also authorizes the city comptroller to establish expenditure and revenue accounts for the new service.

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(c)2021 The Citizen, Auburn, N.Y.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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