CPC backs ambulance purchase

  • Athol’s Capital Program Committee met Tuesday to discuss the purchase of a new ambulance for the town’s Fire Department. The committee voted unanimously to support the $315,000 expenditure from the ambulance reserve fund. Left to right, Gino Tontodonato, James Smith, Chair Bob Muzzy, Linda Oldach, and Gary Deyo. —Greg Vine

For the Athol Daily News
Published: 7/18/2019 9:55:22 PM
Modified: 7/18/2019 9:55:12 PM

ATHOL – The Capital Program Committee voted Tuesday night to support Article 2 on the warrant for the upcoming special town meeting, which seeks to spend some $315,000 from the town’s ambulance reserve for the purchase of a new ambulance for the Fire Department.

“The one they want to replace is from 2010,” said committee member James Smith. “It’s a light duty Chevrolet product that they’ve had a lot of problems with. Fire Chief (Joseph Guarnera) has asked to replace it with a heavy-duty ambulance, and the new stretcher system that comes with it. He wants to get onto a five-year rotation on ambulances.”

“I was looking at the revenue from the ambulances,” committee member Gino Tontodonato said, “and it’s somewhere in the $600,000 to $700,000 range, per year, so they’re making money. But they only put about 10 percent of that into the ambulance reserve. It’s a good revenue generator.”

The remainder of the cash generated by the town’s ambulance service goes into the general fund.

“The only problem is,” said Smith, “he’s going to have a five-year-old vehicle and a new vehicle. That five-year-old vehicle is going to have to be replaced within the next five years. So, when the old vehicle gets to eight or nine years old it’s going to have to be out. It’s going to have to be. So, we might be approached in the next year or two with another hit. If he wants to get on a five-year cycle for ambulances, a couple of years down the road we’ll see where are with the money that comes in.”

Tontodonato floated the idea of increasing the percentage of ambulance-generated revenue that goes to the ambulance reserve from 10 percent to 15 percent.

“Is that going to create a problem for the budget for this committee?” asked committee member Gary Deyo. “If you increase what you’re depositing (in the ambulance reserve), that takes it out of the general fund. They’re looking at the general fund to see where they can get some money to finance this committee.”

Town Manager Shaun Suhoski, who stopped in at the meeting, said there may be an article on the fall town meeting warrant seeking to increase the amount contributed to the ambulance reserve from generated revenues to 12 percent.

Chairman Bob Muzzy asked Suhoski if there are lease agreements available for ambulances.

“Not that I’m aware of,” said Suhoski. “I was just on the phone with Chief Guarnera, and he said he wasn’t aware of one.”

Suhoski said that the expenditure of $315,000 from the ambulance reserve would leave about $40,000 in that account.

At the conclusion of their discussion, committee members voted unanimously to recommend the purchase of the new ambulance.

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