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Mendon Ambulance Funded for Remainder of Year

Thanks to the 48 residents who turned up at Mendon's November 15 Special Town Meeting, the town's ambulance will be funded for the remainder of the year. Article 3 on the warrant was a request to transfer $63,500 to fund the ambulance's salary line item, and was passed by unanimous vote.

Prior to the Special Town Meeting, town officials discussed the need for the article. During a November 7 Board of Selectmen's meeting, Police and Fire Chief Ernest Horn and Finance Committee Chair Rich Schofield discussed the ambulance budget stating it had a shortfall of approximately $60,000. According to Schofield, the majority of the shortage was the result of call fire fighters having to cover a full time fire fighter who is out on leave. Call fire fighters take on the same responsibilities as full time fire fighters concerning ambulance coverage including driving the vehicle and providing medical assistance when necessary. Horn also acknowledged the budget was short as a result of discontinued medical supply reimbursements and contractual increases.

In case there was any question, Schofield also explained that although the town received a recent private donation of $55,000 for the ambulance, that funding may only be used to run the ambulance's third shift. If Article 3 did not pass, Horn said he could be forced to reduce ambulance services during the first and second shifts.

During the Special Town Meeting, Article 3 was a motion to move $16,500 from free cash, $10,000 from the Hartford Avenue East account, and $37,000 from the Fire Department Full Time Wages account into the Fire Department Call Salaries. 

When the article was opened up for discussion, resident Sharon Cutler asked if the town would be receiving reimbursement funding from Tropical Storm Irene to be used for the ambulance. According to Horn, it was not certain as Mendon's county did not score high enough in damage to qualify for assistance. If the town were to receive any funding back, compensation could include some monies for officers that were on call during the storm, but not for those who were on duty. If the town is refunded any money, it will be placed into the General Fund.

When asked why town officials were not using stabilization money instead of free cash to fund the ambulance, Horn said that he, the Board of Selectmen, and Finance Committee agreed that using free cash was the best way to handle the article and that taking money out of the stabilization account effects the town's bond rating. Residents then passed Article 3 unanimously.

In an interview after the Special Town Meeting, Schofield stated that barring unforeseen circumstances, the ambulance should now remain funded for the remainder of this Fiscal Year.


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