Editor’s note: Story has been updated to clarify the name of Victor Farmington Volunteer Ambulance.
VICTOR, N.Y. (WROC) — Residents in Ontario County are trying to find a balance between the tax rate for emergency services and quality of care.
At a meeting Tuesday with the Fishers Fire District Board, the public weighed in on what they feel are climbing costs and concerns about merging services with other departments like Victor and Mendon.
Fire Chief Daniel Chapman of the Fishers Fire District says not everyone understands why the tax rate is set where it’s at.
“Their computation of taxes is different than the way the State of New York does taxes,” he said. “Even though we’re broken down 60/40 commercial to residential, the commercial properties pay the same per 1000 rate, so they do pay their share of taxes no tax breaks.”
Chapman says taxes and the services they give are just about right. “I think we provide a very balanced, efficient operation,” he said.
When it comes to costs, he said they’ve not added to the paid staff or to the fleet since he’s been in his position. “So I’m not really sure why they’re in such an uproar now.”
At the meeting was area resident Tommy Kline. “The amount we’re paying in taxes is really excessive,” he said.
He says one of the biggest tax hikes over the years has been the fire district, more than doubling in a five-year period from 2016 to 2021.
“We (have) great facilities, we have great firefighters, we just have to have some control of expenses,” he said.
With 60 percent of this area commercial and only 40 percent residential, families he said are paying through the nose. He says to outsource services to lower costs. “Share the load…” he added.
Two of the five members on the fire board want to lower costs and merge services with Victor and Mendon– and cut back on the paid Fishers paramedics. But Chapman feels it wouldn’t make much of a difference.
“So if we were to drop the paramedic service, it would only drop our payroll by a few thousand dollars,” he said.
Chapman explains Fishers paramedics provide the first few minutes of care until the ambulance arrives.
If there were no EMT calls at Fishers– all paramedic calls would go through the Victor Farmington Volunteer Ambulance. That has some in the community concerned about response time, charges, and possible delays.
If this happens and a patient is treated where they are, and not taken to the hospital– they’d still be charged, which does not happen now. Further, it could take a VFVA about 15 minutes to respond to Fishers– when it takes Fishers paramedics only three minutes.
Chief Chapman encourages anyone with concerns to reach out to him through the district’s website.