Rescue squad plans to leave Philmont

Greenport ambulance in Philmont may be budget casualty

PHILMONT–Come the new year, it could take longer to rush ailing or injured people from Philmont to the hospital.

That’s when the Greenport Rescue Squad, which has provided emergency service to the village since the Philmont Rescue Squad closed its doors, might cease to station an ambulance here. Instead, the squad is considering whether it can send vehicles from its headquarters in Greenport. That would make the response/ transport time to and from Philmont longer.

For the moment, there’s no change in squad’s service to the village. “We have not closed the Philmont station,” Greenport Rescue Squad President Tony Merante told The Columbia Paper Monday. “We have not made a decision. We are keeping our options open.”

Village trustees heard the news that a change is under consideration from resident Brian Wheeler at the Village Board meeting Monday, October 10. Mr. Wheeler said he learned about the move from “several guys on the rescue squad.”

Mayor Clarence Speed said after the meeting that he has had no official notification of a change, but he sounded not at all surprised at the possibility. “It’s all about money,” he said.

Currently, he said, Greenport Rescue pays $1,000 per month rent on its station in Philmont and has put up a temporary garage there. “They could take that right down and move it out,” he said. “I think they had it in their minds all along that they weren’t going to stick around forever.”

Trustee Barbara Sagal noted that calls must be answered in a timely manner or the squad could lose the district as their service area.

Mr. Merante said that serving the Philmont district, which his squad took over last year, has proved costly.  “The average staffing cost for a 12-hour shift is $500,” he said, adding that the costs remain high whether or not an ambulance rolls. “We have the cost of transporting people plus the cost of being ready to transport them,” Mr. Merante said.

Rent, utilities and maintenance for the station on Main Street are close to $30,000 a year. And while the Town of Claverack used to budget $50,000 a year for rescue squad service, splitting that amount equally between Greenport Rescue and the now-defunct Philmont squad -the town budgeted only $35,000 for Greenport this year.

Assuming the squad will need an increase in support, some of that amount would fall on Philmont residents, who pay the rescue squad indirectly, as part of their Claverack town tax, according to Village Clerk/Treasurer Eilene Morris.

Also at this week’s meeting, village trustees:

*Voted to donate $2,000 to help pay for fireworks for Community Day, June 30, 2012. Planner Dick Howard reported that new ideas are being considered, among them a community flea market, a circus and water polo. Next planning meeting is Monday, November 7 at 7 p.m. at the Village Hall

*Heard from Trustee Brian Johnson that the village will “vigorously enforce” the law that requires homeowners to clear snow from their sidewalks within 24 hours after a snowfall. The rule does not apply on Main Street, where wider sidewalks require special equipment.

Also to be enforced are the no-overnight-parking rule on all village streets during the winter

*Heard from Library Director Karen Garafalo that the library is collecting donations for the Philmont-Mellenville Food Pantry, hoping to amass 600 items by the week before Thanksgiving

+ Heard from Ms. Garafalo that GED study classes have begun with about four  students. The Philmont Rotary Club has donated $100 towards the purchase of six student’s books and two teacher’s copies

*Approved Frederick Zitto as a member of the Philmont Fire Company

*Heard from 10-year-old Jodie Wheeler that she often has trouble crossing Main Street to get to the library because motorists ignore the “Stop for Pedestrians” signs

*Accepted the oil bid of Montague Oil Company, sole bidder at $3.3610 per gallon subject to increase or decrease in current market price, and $55 per hour for service and maintenance

*Heard from Ms. Morris that the village office will be closed Election Day, November 8, and Veterans Day, November 11; and that garbage pick-up will be Wednesday, November 9 due to Election Day. 

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