The Town of Rotterdam is poised for a public referendum on a new tax district to support ambulance service. REMS will be the supposed beneficiary of those tax funds should the tax district vote succeed.
The debate on this issue has raged for far too long, in my opinion. Is the creation of a tax district for ambulance service a valid approach to provide a necessary, vital service? Absolutely, no question. A better question would be is a tax district to support ambulance service necessary? Absolutely not, no question.
The real question is, are you willing to pay higher taxes? At this exact moment, I’m not. Not because I don’t think ambulance service is important – in fact, I consider it necessary and vital. And it’s not because I can’t afford to pay the tax if it is approved because I can. I’m against it because I’m not willing to increase my tax burden further, at this point in time.
There are alternatives, however. First, it’s not a situation where people will be faced with no ambulance service at all. Mohawk Ambulance is eager to fill any void created by the disappearance of REMS. In fact, they already compliment a competent REMS with competent service of their own. There will be ambulance service. I’m not about to begin arguing which service might be better qualified because I’m not qualified nor interested in doing so. I’m arguing taxes, pure and simple, while attempting to take panic out of the decision equation.
As I said, I believe ambulance service is necessary and vital. I also said I don’t wish to pay additional tax to support it at this time. Contradictory? Not necessarily. If we assume that ambulance service is a desirable necessary and vital service, then the question is asked and answered, in my opinion, especially when I’m not willing to assume a larger tax burden. I believe ambulance service should be funded through the General Fund by using our existing tax dollars. (Current policy and practice, in fact, supports this approach.) Since budgets are tough all over these days, this desire puts an even greater demand on our elected officials to find the appropriate cuts elsewhere to pay for it. If they can’t do it when something is deemed necessary and vital, they’ll never ever be able to do it on anything. It’s time to make the hard decisions…and funding ambulance service shouldn’t be one of them. But raising taxes in arguably the most difficult environment we’ve ever seen shouldn’t be the solution.
I ran for office recently with a campaign largely based on No New Taxes. I lost, so maybe it’s me that’s out of step. We’ll find out soon enough. The vote is scheduled for Tuesday, December 14, 2010 from 8am -8pm.