The New Richmond City Council debated a proposal to reduce impact and building permit fees for the new ambulance garage at its regular Monday meeting.

The elected officials came to no final decision in the matter, but will discuss the idea further during upcoming budget meetings.

Alderman Kirk Van Blaircom, who also serves on the ambulance board, said it made sense to him to reduce the overall cost of the proposed building because it's an "essential service" the community provides.

If the ambulance board is forced to pay the city's full building and impact fees, the organization will have to come up with about $24,000.

Van Blaircom argued that the new garage will have little "impact" on the community in terms of added costs for road construction or utility connections. As a result, the emergency service shouldn't be shouldered with the full bill.

"We should consider an exemption from the impact fees," he said.

But Alderman Jim Zajkowski countered that the fair route to take is to collect the fees for the project.

City taxpayers will still pick up half the cost of the impact and building fees (as the ambulance service is funded 50 percent by city residents), he said, but township and Village of Star Prairie residents should also share in the overall cost of the operation.

"We're not going to do it all by ourselves any more," Zajkowski said.

Community Development and Planning Director Robert Barbian suggested that the council consider discounting the sewer access fees rather than the impact or building fees. He warned that if the city cuts the ambulance service a break, other businesses and organizations will likely ask for similar treatment.

"If you adjust one, you will probably be asked to adjust more," he said.

Action on the matter was tabled until the budget process begins.

For a complete story, see this week's New Richmond News.