QUEENSBURY — Taxes are going down in the tentative Queensbury town budget, but the town’s EMS companies are getting more money.
The budget plan will be discussed at a public hearing on Nov. 5 at the Queensbury Activity Center, 742 Bay Road.
In the general fund, taxes would be 52.1 cents per $1,000 of assessed property, down from 53.9 cents per $1,000.
For the average house assessed at $256,000, taxes would be $133.36, a reduction of $4.62. The tax rate would go down 3.34 percent. The tax levy would go up $10,000.
The $9.7 million general fund includes spending $385,000 from savings. There’s about $4.1 million in that savings account right now.
Despite the tax cut, spending would increase $416,410 in the general fund.
In addition, the town’s emergency medical squads would get a $229,000 spending increase, for a total of $2.17 million.
The EMS tax rate would increase by 4.7 percent, from 23.6 cents per $1,000 to 24.7 cents per $1,000. For the average house, the tax bill would be $63.23, an increase of $2.81. The tax levy would go up $79,000.
It wasn’t easy to afford a large increase for EMS while staying within the 2 percent cap on the total tax levy, Budget Officer Barbara Tierney said.
“But we managed to stay under it, even with the EMS increase,” she said when she presented the budget to the Town Board Tuesday.
Town Board members focused on EMS, discussing whether to change the way patients are billed. They could add a bill for patients who are treated on the scene and released.
“They have so many treat-and-release that can’t be billed for,” Tierney said. “Our biller can’t bill if the Town Board doesn’t approve it.”
She warned that it could have a significant financial impact on residents.
“Of course, Medicare won’t pay for it,” she said.
Board members said they may ask the emergency medical squads to keep track of how many patients they treat and release, to give them valuable data on whether to add the billing code.
Costs for EMS have gone up mainly because the squads have more paid staff. They can’t get enough trained medical technicians to work as volunteers.
But the town is saving on one cost because of that switch. Town officials successfully persuaded the town’s workers compensation provider to reduce the charge for EMTs.
“Now that the EMTs are mostly paid, they’re covered by their employer. So why should the town have pay again for their workers comp?” Tierney said. “So they’ve agreed to drop most of the workers comp for EMS.”