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Town of Thurman yanks support for EMS squad

Hearing on budget set for 5 p.m. Friday Nov. 16

Members of the Thurman Emergency Medical Services — Captain John O'Neill (right), President Jean Coulard (center) and former captain Adam Styers — pose recently for a photograph. The independent agency's funding has been cut from the town's 2013 budget, which is up for a public hearing at 5 p.m. Friday Nov. 16.

Members of the Thurman Emergency Medical Services — Captain John O'Neill (right), President Jean Coulard (center) and former captain Adam Styers — pose recently for a photograph. The independent agency's funding has been cut from the town's 2013 budget, which is up for a public hearing at 5 p.m. Friday Nov. 16. Photo by Thom Randall.

— Wood noted that while she fully supported the idea of locally-dispatched and managed emergency health care, allocating $75,000 to the agency would result in a tax increase to property owners of about 20 percent — a hike that local citizens wouldn’t support.

As for a lower amount, like the $27,315 appropriated last year, she said it was the board’s position that since the agency detailed in August how it needed $115,000 to $128,000 from the town to break even on its expenses, allocating $27,000 or so might not reap any benefit for local citizens — but it would certainly boost their tax bills.

More than a half-dozen Thurman squad members showed up for the meeting, citing the faster response times their agency can provide than squads located in adjacent towns, and the advanced training their members are now undergoing.

New Thurman squad captain John O’Neill said locally-based emergency medical services was vital, and supported by the majority of the town’s citizens. He said 78 people had signed a petition calling for town support of the independent agency.

Squad President Jean Coulard complained that the board was allocating money for dog and animal control, yet nothing for emergency medical services except the ambulance payoff.

“People are disgusted with you,” she said to the town board.

But Wood replied the zero allocation for the squad’s operation in the proposed 2013 budget was a matter of the board making prudent decisions on behalf of local citizens.

“We’re charged the fiscal responsibility of the town, Wood said, after hearing outcries from squad members over the elimination of financial support. She noted that the town had 640 property owners whose interests the board must represent.

“We know the squad has needs, but we have to look after the whole town and all its aspects — we have to be realistic about what we can do.”

People in the audience suggested that the town set up a taxing district that would provide ambulance services in town.

Town Board candidate Lisa Marie Binder offered to organize a community dinner to raise donations for the squad.

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