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Mayor: Bellport Village can’t afford its own ambulance company

The town wants to know about Bellport Village’s ambulance plans

Bellport Village officials have determined it would be too costly to break away from the South Country Ambulance District in order to establish a new ambulance company serving just the village.

The announcement was made Monday night by mayor Ray Fell, and comes as South Country Ambulance moves forward with plans for a new, town-approved $13 million ambulance headquarters.

“It’s not economically feasible for Bellport Village to run its own, but we are still investigating third party vendors to come in and provide a service,” Fell said at Monday night’s board meeting. “We’ll be looking at some proposals and see if that’s any more feasible, economically.

“But as of right now we’re not going to operate our own ambulance company.”

Brookhaven Town approved the borrowing in October after about 18 months of public debate in the town and village halls — with the plan’s more outspoken detractors coming out of the village.

The town then sent a letter to Bellport Village officials later in October asking the village let the town know soon what its plans were, so the town could plan accordingly.

One of those critics, Sherry Binnington, said during Monday night’s meeting that she and village resident Anne Hayes have been speaking with village residents that have experience with a private EMS provider that could be available for contract.

She wouldn’t name the residents or the provider, but said a meeting was scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday.

“[The residents] have been very involved in a particular EMS service that we’re looking into,” Binnington said after the meeting. “We haven’t met with this service yet. We’re going to be talking with them. But we are able to pursue, we can go around to different companies and see if they would be interested in contracting with us. And we have been authorized to do that [by the mayor].

She called the possibility of contracting with a different provide “a little light at the end of the tunnel … what happens, we don’t know. But we are able to keep pursuing this. And we’re working with the village clerk.”

Critics of the project have raised questions over its scale, cost, potential traffic problems at the proposed location on Station Road near Beaver Dam Road, and more.

Ambulance officials, backed by an engineering report, say the current building at Montauk Highway and North Dunton Avenue is outdated and potentially unsafe.

In an interview in October, ambulance head Greg Miglino Jr. said it would have been a “Herculean task” for the village to establish its own district. “The cost would be catastrophic,” he said.

He also insisted there are no other ambulance companies in the county available for contract.

If Bellport Village were to secede, the rest of the South Country Ambulance district would see only a negligible bump in their tax bills, Miglino said in October, when asked if such a move could threaten the headquarters project.

With interest, a $13 million ambulance company would cost district taxpayers closer to $17 million.

mike@greaterpatchogue.com

Photo: The South Country Ambulance Company owns the ambulance station in the village. (Michael White) 

About the author: Michael White

Michael White is a Bellport resident, longtime newspaper reporter and editor, and the owner of greaterpatchogue.com. Email him your story ideas or tips: mike@greaterpatchogue.com