Are Kunkel's allegations biased? Of course! Kunkel is an interested party and not a news organization. They are trying to knock off their competition.
- This taxpayer-supported service has been conducted without a Certificate of Need, which is required by law ...
- At a time when healthcare costs are astronomical, the City is often charging healthcare plans more than double what Kunkel Ambulance charges
- Overtime costs for the fire department have skyrocketed to over a million dollars from $296,619 before the start of the City-run ambulance service. The City cites the ambulance service as a revenue generator without factoring in these costs!
- The City of Utica says the ambulance service brings in revenue. But at what COST? Revenue is not profit. Revenue means nothing without factoring in the true costs of running the program.
- Expenses of labor and overtime are not listed as costs. There is no business that does not consider labor a cost.
- Operating expenses are totally excluded or understated on their budget sheets. Such as the cost of repairs for a whole year, listed at only $2,000.00!
- The costs for all of the legal battles the City initiated against the State of New York are not included. . . .
But are the allegations true? If so, what does it mean for Utica's taxpayers? What does it mean for the cost of health-insurance in this area? Utica taxes are already too high and drive businesses away. Utica area health insurance rates are already significantly higher than other areas ... which increases the cost of doing business here for those companies providing health insurance for their employees.
No one is saying that the services provided by Utica firefighters and EMTs are not professional or of other than highest quality. But the public need for them has already been determined to be lacking, and a number of complaints have been made of sky-high charges.
Kunkel's arguments make sense. The true costs have yet to be calculated. If this service increases taxpayers' costs . . . and/or increases area residents' health insurance costs, then the increased value city residents and insurance purchasers receive in return must be clearly identified if the service is to be kept in existence. If there is no added value for the added cost, then end the service.
Utica going into the Ambulance business sounds like New Hartford going into the private security business: great ways for certain employees to puff up their overtime and, ultimately, their pensions, while placing all the risks on the taxpayer.
The Utica Master Plan calls for studies to extend this and other services to neighboring municipalities. Again, at what costs? It appears that some people at City Hall are empire building on the backs of the taxpayers.
The City is supposedly in this venture to make money. But money for whom?