Before voting to fund cash-strapped Lower Valley Ambulance Service, Springdale Township Commissioner Tim Basilone is asking two things.
Basilone wants to see a solid business plan and get assurance that the EMS provider can successfully serve as the township’s primary ambulance provider.
Basilone made these requests at last week’s municipal commissioners meeting, when commissioners discussed the ambulance service’s appeal for financial support directly from the seven municipalities it serves. Springdale Township is among them.
“It’s just like when a business goes to the bank to get a loan: one of the things they have to provide is a business plan,” Basilone said.
Lower Valley Ambulance Service officials claim that many patients they transport keep insurance reimbursements they receive to pay for using the service instead of passing those payments on to the service. Lower Valley officials said that has caused the organization, which is a nonprofit agency, to be financially unstable.
As a result, Lower Valley is asking the communities it serves — Springdale Township, Springdale, Harmar, Cheswick, Verona, Oakmont and Indiana Township — for money to cover operating costs.
It notified the communities that it needed $50 per resident in each community.
In the case of Springdale Township, that comes to just under $78,000 based on its 1,557 residents.
As part of their request, Lower Valley officials presented a seven-point short-term plan, the first of which is to secure funding from the municipalities.
There seems to be only one other point in regards to easing the financial situation, which was to “identify and reduce further expenses such as office space, vehicles, etc.”
The other five items called for hiring an executive director, renegotiating the union contract to raise salaries for EMT and paramedic staff, recruiting and retaining additional EMTs and paramedics, continuing community outreach, and To increase wheelchair van services.
“They need to come back to us, and their plan needs to have more substance to it,” Basilone said.
“They better come up with a business plan,” he said. “They don’t say how to do things differently to survive.”
Township attorney Craig Alexander said the township is required to provide emergency services to residents.
“You have to provide EMS. You have to provide ambulance service,” Alexander told commissioners. “It doesn’t necessarily mean (using) Lower Valley, but you have to make it available.”
Basilone also questioned whether the Lower Valley will be able to serve all of its communities.
“If they can’t cover every primary (community), we need to know,” he said.
Township Manager Bill McElligott is scheduled to meet with Lower Valley Ambulance Service officials this week and convey Basilone’s requests.
He said he’s not sure how many communities will support Lower Valley’s funding request.
“Most of the Lower Valley board members are from Oakmont, and I’m not sure if Oakmont will stick with them,” McElligott said.