Lockport Outsources Ambulance Services

September 4, 2014 Updated Sep 4, 2014 at 12:24 PM EDT

By Kendra Eaglin

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September 4, 2014 Updated Sep 4, 2014 at 12:24 PM EDT

(WKBW)

Right now Lockport is spending about $1 million a year on ambulance service, a cost they're no longer willing to pay.

"Very few municipalities have fully paid municipal ambulance providers where the taxpayers pay that service, we simply can't afford it," said Anne McCaffrey Mayor of Lockport.

The City Council unanimously approved Twin City Ambulance service as its new emergency provider in a meeting Thursday night, the contract starts September 15, 2014.

It's a service that has been provided by the fire department for the past 40 years. Those firefighters have filed several grievances to try and stop the change.

"They're going to be removing the two ambulances, they're going to be removing the latter truck from service except in certain situations,' said Kevin Pratt, City of Lockport Firefighter and Union President.

"We will be compromising the quality of service at the expense of the health care of people especially the seniors that are in need of it," said Tony Sammarco, Lockport Resident.

The city's budget is being scrutinized by the state comptroller's office and the city is under pressure to close a $2 million budget deficit.

Mayor Anne McCaffrey says this will save the city about $400,000 a year and reduce sky high overtime.

"We budgeted about $500,000 for overtime this year and they're on track right now to spend almost $1,000,000," said Mayor McCaffrey.

Firefighters argue the overtime is because seven firefighters were laid off in January and one other position hasn't been filled after a retirement.

Twin City will only get paid from its bills to patients.

The mayor says 75% of the ambulance calls are from patients on medicare and medicaid and says that population will not see any change in what they pay but those with private insurance are likely to pay more.

A public meeting with Twin City Ambulance will be held at city hall at 6 pm Wednesday, September 10, 2014.