Ambulance services eager for merger
Merger talks between the Silt and New Castle ambulance services continue at Silt Town Hall at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 21, and at New Castle Town Hall at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 24.”Demand for services has gone up,” said New Castle Ambulance Service board member Barry Sovern. “We need to pool our resources to become better.”Silt Ambulance director Susan Taylor said long term options include the merged ambulance service becoming part of the Burning Mountains Fire Protection District, or forming a new special taxing district to fund emergency services.”We need tax support, or we’ll go away,” Taylor said. “We have to have people to staff this service.”Sovern said he was surprised several years ago to learn the New Castle and Silt ambulance services were not already part of the Burning Mountains Fire Protection District.”I’ve been trying to do this merger since I’ve been here,” said Sovern, who has lived in Peach Valley for 20 years, and has served on the New Castle Ambulance Service board for five years.New Castle and Silt’s ambulance services are structured differently. New Castle Ambulance Service is a nonprofit group funded through grants, service fees and benefit events. The Silt Ambulance Service is operated by the town of Silt, but receives no tax support, Taylor said. Most of the Silt Ambulance Service’s $288,000 annual budget comes from service fees charged to patients.Both ambulance services rely on a rapidly dwindling volunteer base.”The days of volunteer services are over,” said Taylor, the Silt Ambulance Service’s only paid employee. “We have to find some way to fund this. Service fees don’t cover everything, and grants are getting fewer and fewer.”Ambulance service is included in many fire districts, including the Carbondale & Rural Fire Protection District and the Glenwood Springs and Rural Fire District. Both collect property taxes as special districts.Taylor said in the past, Silt and New Castle residents opposed a merger. She hopes the upcoming meetings will answer questions from residents of both towns.New Castle residents worry their ambulance could be moved away, and the volunteer crew dismantled. Taylor doesn’t expect that to happen.”It’s all about what is best for the community,” Taylor said.Contact Lynn Burton: 945-8515, ext. email@example.com
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