By KEVIN LIMITI • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA — Joshua Beams, the new Otsego County administrator, met with Rep. Jill Basile, D-Oneonta, on Friday, Oct. 8, to reassure her constituents “there will be no fiscal impact for Oneonta” with regards to the new EMS plans for the county.
Beams stressed Oneonta, which has its own community-funded EMS, will not be double charged for the county’s supplemental ambulance service, which is direly needed in rural areas of Otsego.
According to Beams, the EMS service would be an “opt-in only program.” The county will still service Oneonta through mutual aid, but city and/or town residents won’t be taxed for the service if they chose to opt out.
“There will be no fiscal impact for Oneonta,” Beams assured Basile.
Mutual aid would most likely occur in the event of a mass casualty incident.
“We’re going to come at this with a holistic approach where if you need it, we’ll provide it,” Beams said.
Basile said the opt-in policy was the main point, but also said the EMS vote was taken “without a lot of foresight and that makes me nervous.”
“Nobody had information on how that was going to effect my constituents,” Basile said.
The EMS service needs to fill 20 positions, which were approved at the September County Board of Representatives meeting. The county also approved the purchase of two ambulances, with COVID relief money.
If a municipality chooses to opt-in to the service, cost will be based upon population, assessed value and calls per year (which won’t be determined until after the first year). People who need emergency service will also be charged a fee for the service.
Beams said he hoped to quash fears Oneonta would be charged for a service it didn’t use, an issue which came up prominently in last Tuesday’s Common Council meeting.
“I think it is important to get the word out,” Beams said. “I think it is pretty clear that this answers a lot of questions.”
Both Beams and Basile acknowledged that a county wide ambulance service was necessary.
“It shouldn’t take 20 minutes for an ambulance to reach a kid dying from a ATV accident,” Basile said, referring to an incident in late August where a seven-year old passed away after waiting for an ambulance to arrive in Decatur.
Beams said Otsego’s ambulance problem wasn’t unique to New York.
“We’re not the only rural county that’s dealing with something like this,” Beams said.