Discussion to continue in Martinsville about how to cover EMS calls
City Council members to discuss options Tuesday night
MARTINSVILLE, Va. – UPDATE
The debate over how to cover EMS calls in Martinsville continues.
City Council discussed the issue Tuesday night after an initial discussion last month, but made no decision.
If the Martinsville Fire Department is going to run a third ambulance to help cover calls, the city’s real estate tax will have to increase by at least two cents.
That was city manager Leon Towarnicki’s message to City Council members Tuesday night.
“I think the appropriate time to do that would be to consider it as part of the budget process, allow citizens to have an opportunity to comment,” Towarnicki said.
A two cent real estate tax increase would mean an extra $20 a year in taxes for a homeowner with a home worth $100,000.
City Council members agreed with Towarnicki that residents need to have a say before any tax increase is approved.
Martinsville Fire Chief Ted Anderson supports the tax increase as a way to fund a third ambulance.
“This is the most fair way to evenly spread this out for our citizens. Ultimately, that’s what we’re trying to do. We’re trying to serve our citizens," Anderson emphasized.
Not getting any official commitment from council members Tuesday night means the fire department will continue running just two ambulances for the time being.
“Would I have wanted an answer of yes tonight? Absolutely. However, I respect the system," Anderson said.
Anderson said that since the beginning of the year, there have been 29 calls that had to be covered by Henry County because there wasn’t anyone in the city available.
Complicating the issue, if the fire department starts using a third ambulance to reduce that number a fourth ambulance would need to be bought for about $250,000 to have as a backup.
The next time the issue is likely to come before council is in March or April when Towarnicki presents the city’s budget for discussion.
Discussion about how to cover EMS calls in Martinsville will continue Tuesday night.
City Council members will discuss options.
Last month, Martinsville's fire chief presented six options.
Council members said they wanted more information about how the options would impact the budget before they make a decision.
Currently, the fire department uses two ambulances but that's not enough to cover all of the EMS calls.
The fire department would like to use a third ambulance, but that can't happen unless City Council gives the department more money.
This story will be updated.
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