TOM imagines an ambulance district that excludes Walden

Posted 1/25/22

In the end, it never came down to a vote.After more than 40 minutes of discussion last Tuesday, it was clear that the Walden Village Board was not prepared to join Maybrook and the Village of …

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TOM imagines an ambulance district that excludes Walden

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In the end, it never came down to a vote.

After more than 40 minutes of discussion last Tuesday, it was clear that the Walden Village Board was not prepared to join Maybrook and the Village of Montgomery, in passing a resolution in support of a Town of Montgomery Ambulance District. The trustees still had too many questions.

Even Town of Montgomery Supervisor Brian Maher, listening in via Zoom, was ready to conceed defeat.

“We’re not going anywhere,” he said at the end of the evening. “We’re going to come back next year.”

The supervisor had maintained all along that a district would not be feasible without the participation of all three villages. He had quickly gained the support of the Montgomery Village Board, had a much tougher time in Maybrook,and would log out of the virtual meeting without having secured a Walden vote. With a deadline of March 1 looming, it appeared the district would have to wait another year.

By Thursday, however, another scenario had unfolded. The Montgomery Town Board voted to extend the exiting public hearing and to re-draw the map of the proposed ambulance district to exclude the Village of Walden.

“I’m going to vote no. I want to do this as a team,” the Supervisor said “I do not believe there’s a scenario that exists that Walden will not be covered. “

With or without Walden, the tax scenario remains the same. A home assessed at $100,000 would pay $46.39 a year to support ambulance service. A home assessed at $200,000 would pay double that amount. Instead of $800,000 raised by taxes, the figure would be approximately $664,000, without the contributions of Walden residents.

Walden Mayor John Ramos, and several village trustees appeared before the Montgomery Town Board to urge that Walden not be left out in the dark.

“Social media is slamming us, saying we voted no,” Ramos said. “That’s not accurate.”

At Tuesday’s Walden Village Board meeting, the mayor and several trustees had complained that they felt the process was bring rushed through, with many questions still unanswered. He asked for a business plan and demanded more detailed answers about why the current Town of Montgomery Ambulance Corps was in such dire financial need.

Though his village board voted 3-2 to support the district, Maybrook Mayor Dennis Leahy still had concerns. (Leahy and Deputy Mayor Robert Pritchard were the two “no” votes.)

Leahy echoed the complaints of several Walden officials that the process had been rushed, with little communication from the town between August and December, at which point Maher and various members of the Town of Montgomery Ambulance Corps began making the rounds to seek support for the plan. (Proponents had maintained that approvals were needed by March 1, 2022 in order to begin the budget preparation in order for the Ambulance District to come into existence by Jan. 1, 2023. )

“I wanted to see the leadership out of you,” Leahy said to the supervisor. “I didn’t feel that way. I have to know it’s a good idea to go forward.”

Ambulance Corps Trustee Sylvie Rainaldi, who has made numerous presentations in support of the ambulance district, read a letter from Karina Tipton, her former running mate for Montgomery Town Board, In the letter, Tipton requested that the town move forward to create a district that would serve the unincorporated portion of the Town of Montgomery and the villages of Maybrook and Montgomery and give the Village of Walden the option of joining at a later date.

That idea drew support from Town Board members.

“We can’t kick the can down the road any more,” Deputy Town Supervisor Ron Feller said. “We’ve got to get something done to save lives.”

With that, the town board voted to extend the public hearing to Feb. 10, with a revised tax district map to consider. Maher cast the lone dissenting vote.

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