By MALLORY DIEFENBACH
LE ROY — On Tuesday, a straw vote to gauge the potential fate of the Le Roy Ambulance District will be held at the Le Roy Town Hall. The vote will be held at the Le Roy Town Hall, 48 Main St., from noon to 8 p.m.
If something isn’t done, the Le Roy Ambulance Service will only have two years left before it folds. Robert Boyce, president of the Le Roy Ambulance Service Inc., and Dane Sprague, vice president of the Le Roy Ambulance Service Inc., said the service has been losing $40,000 to $50,000 a year for the past six years and, in order to keep the ambulance service from folding, a suggestion has been raised _ the establishment of a special ambulance taxing district in the town and village.
Currently, there are three possible choices for people to choose regarding the Le Roy Ambulance District:
• The establishment of a Le Roy Ambulance District — based upon Le Roy Ambulance Service analysis, the 2019 tax rate would be 48 cents per $1,000 of assessed value or $48 for a $100,000 home. This would also mean a Le Roy resident using Le Roy Ambulance Service would have no out-of-pocket (co-pay) expenses. The current services would remain and land in an agriculture district would be exempt.
• The town subsidizing the Le Roy Ambulance Service and the Town Board assuming a level of oversight responsibility for the Le Roy Ambulance Service fiscal affairs, and, after annual reviews, making subsidy payments through the town budget. Based on the last full year of the Le Roy Ambulance Service report (2017), the subsidy’s place in the budget would be about $75,000. Town Supervisor Stephen Barbeau estimates an added estimate of 20 cents per $1,000 of assessed value — or an additional $20 for a home assessed at $100,000 — to the town tax rate. Residents using the Le Roy Ambulance Service would still be responsible for out-of-pocket expenses.
• Opposition to the establishment of a Le Roy Ambulance District and the town subsiding the Le Roy Ambulance Service. This would mean the Le Roy Ambulance Service would continue operations in 2019 but begin the process of shutting down. Mercy EMS, with whom Le Roy has a current contract for backup services, would become the primary responder. Mercy has committed to moving its eastern Genesee County base to Le Roy and would respond to all calls — not just Batavia — on this side of the city. Initially, Mercy would use call data to determine how it would respond from Batavia if the Le Roy crew were busy on a previous call. There is no charge to the municipality, and thus no tax implications. Residents using Mercy services would be responsible for out-of-pocket expenses.
The vote is informal and non-binding, and is open to all town and village residents at least 18 years old.
“It is important to know that the Town Board has not taken a position on any of the above as of yet,” Barbeau said in his column. “We definitely want to hear with the folks wish.”
The problem the Le Roy Ambulance Service is facing is it cannot bill for every call to which it responds. Last year, out of the 1,223 calls for service, 743 were billable, and out of the gross of over $1 million it billed for, it was paid less than half.
“The frustration is, if we don’t transport somebody, we don’t get paid,” Boyce said. He added the insurance companies don’t send the ambulance service the checks — they send it to the patient who was transported, some of whom keep the checks instead of paying the bill.
Both the town and village would need to support it, however, otherwise the ambulance service won’t go through with the plan. The men said, however, whatever way it goes, they need time to plan.
“It’s hard to put a dollar value on a life,” Boyce said.
The “fork” ratings are based primarily on food quality and preparation, with service and atmosphere factored into the final decision. Reviews are based on one unsolicited, unannounced visit to the restaurant.