The Salem Town Board on Monday voted to not move forward with a contract to provide emergency medical services to Silver Lake.
The motion to not move forward passed by a unanimous voice vote of the board. Supervisor Mike Culat made the motion and Supervisor Dennis Faber seconded it.
And the board also voted unanimously to continue to pursue participation in a regional fire/EMS study with other area municipalities.
Last year, Silver Lake approached Salem about providing EMS service for the village. An agreement was negotiated between town staff and village representatives that had Silver Lake Fire Department members acting as first responders and Salem providing additional services and transport as needed. Salem would bill patients for services when transport took place and bill the village $100 per call when there was no transport. That agreement passed the Silver Lake Village Board in March.
Since the 1970s, EMS service in Silver Lake has been provided by Silver Lake Rescue Inc. The agreement with Salem was seen by village officials who supported it — including former village President Jeff Albrecht — as a way to use the money spent contracting with Silver Lake Rescue on the village fire department instead. The Silver Lake Fire Department is controlled by the village government.
After the meeting, Culat said he made the motion because the board did not have enough information. He said he would rather have the town participate in a regional fire services study first.
Silver Lake village President Sue Gerber was at the meeting in the audience. In an impromptu interview in the hallway as she left the meeting, she said she intended to reintroduce the idea of Silver Lake participating in the regional fire services study. She added that she felt the problems in the village come from concerns about the fire department and the need to shift funds in its direction, not any dissatisfaction with Silver Lake Rescue.
“My thoughts are this all started because we have problems with the fire department,” Gerber said. “We don’t have a problem with the Rescue Squad. They are self-sustaining, they’re financially stable. We need to start looking at fixing the initial problem, and that’s the fire department.”
Gerber went on to say she intended to put participation in the fire department study on the agenda again at Wednesday’s Silver Lake Village Board meeting given the interest to move forward with the fire study shown by the Salem Town Board tonight.
Town Board members also discussed the regional fire study before their vote to proceed with that.
Supervisor Dennis Faber said he was in favor of the town participating in the study, which was originally proposed and is being organized by Bristol officials.
“It definitely would help me make a more informed decision,” Faber said. “I’m in favor of proceeding.”
But others expressed some reservations during the discussion.
“I have a concern about a study when we have a top-notch service,” said Supervisor Dan Campion. “What are we really going to gain in the town of Salem? Help me out here. I don’t see it.”
Town administrator Patrick Casey said he is seeking details on just what the study would include and what it would look at. He also would like to see studies done for other departments.
“They really didn’t outline a scope of work,” Casey said of the representatives of the consultant that would do the study.
Casey pointed out that some municipalities were interested in seeing if Salem, as the largest of the municipalities involved, was interested in staying in the study.
So far, Bristol, Paris and Salem want to move forward. Somers is still expected to make a decision. Wheatland is not interested.
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