Despite requests from its partner municipalities, the Hudson Common Council rejected a new funding plan for St. Croix EMS that would have increased the city's contribution by $50,000.
The proposed 50/50 model would have the four partners-city of Hudson, village of North Hudson, town of Hudson and town of Troy-pay for the service based 50 percent on per capita and 50 percent on run calls. Council member Tom McCormick said the partners want a more equitable formula.
The plan change was requested by the towns and village representatives on the EMS Commission. A motion for the city to move to this model was approved by Town of Hudson and Village of North Hudson boards.
"We feel that as partners we should be really partners in that equal cost sharing," Town of Hudson representative Tim Foster said at the EMS Commission meeting on Oct. 11.
"I think the underlying reason is that they're at their levy limit and they can't afford the increases that we know are going to occur going forward," said McCormick, who is the city representative on the EMS Commission.
Foster said at the September EMS Commission meeting if it was not approved he would call for a request for proposals for alternative services to take over EMS. Town of Troy representative Ray Knapp said he'd be open to other equitable approaches.
"They can't afford it is the bottom line," McCormick said.
The partners could also pull out of EMS services, but would have to give a five-year notice.
Currently, McCormick said taxpayers of the partners account for 28 percent of the funding for St. Croix EMS. Of that amount, city of Hudson pays 50 percent. The 50/50 model would increase that to 60 percent.
The majority of funding for the service, 72 percent, comes from payment of users. McCormick said Hudson has most of the users for service due to population, the hospital and care facilities.
"Therefore most of the revenue is generated by activities in Hudson," McCormick said.
Finance Officer Brenda Malinowski said the city has administrative costs that it pays itself without the support of partners, including about $15,000 of city staff work on EMS needs and a lower rent payment for EMS offices at city hall.
If the city approved a 50/50 model, Malinowski said it would be an additional $50,000 for the city in 2018. Over five years, it would be $348,000 more.
McCormick asked Malinowski if the idea of per capita was a fair way to allocate costs. She said it's a way that's easy to identify and allows everybody equal access to the service.
Council member John Hoggatt said he would support implementing the 50/50 model, especially if it's done in stages.
"It is clearly a way forward," Hoggatt said.
Hoggatt said citizens have already expressed a willingness to pay more for EMS services run by the city.
Mayor Rich O'Connor said he thought the 50/50 model was a bad idea.
"This would be an added burden that would move us that much closer to being at levy limits," O'Connor said.
A motion to accept the model failed 2-4, with Hoggatt and Randy Morrissette voting yes, and Joyce Hall, Bill Alms, McCormick and Jim Webber voting no.
EMS Ad Hoc Committee
In other business, the council approved the formation of the EMS Ad Hoc committee. The committee will include council members Joyce Hall and Jim Webber as well as citizen representatives Paul Rode, Colleen Hammer and Bill Campbell. The advisory committee will make recommendation on financial and operational stability for St. Croix EMS, while containing a community-based model.