To the Editor:

New Ambulance Lease (Article 7) at the Manchester Town Meeting on March 1 asks for voter approval for the town to purchase of a new ambulance and lease the ambulance to the Manchester Rescue Squad. This purchase and lease agreement is a win-win situation for both the Town of Manchester and for emergency medical services in the Northshire.

Manchester Rescue Squad is an independent, non-profit organization (not a municipal department) which provides emergency medical services to Manchester, Dorset, Danby, Mt. Tabor and portions of Winhall - 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In 2013, the rescue squad responded to over 1,200 emergency calls.

Because of the long distances driven to area hospitals, the Manchester Rescue Squad tries to purchase a new ambulance every three years and retire a nine year-old one. Our oldest ambulances, a 2004, has over 160,000 miles and we need to raise $150,000 to purchase a new rig. This year, instead of relying on private funding, we decided to create an ambulance fund and have all towns served by the rescue squad participate in this fund, based on their population. Dorset and Winhall have already approved their participation and Danby and Mt. Tabor are asking for voter approval at their respective town meetings.

Instead of participating in our ambulance fund, the Town of Manchester devised an alternative plan that saves the taxpayers of Manchester money while getting the rescue squad a new ambulance sooner. Provided voters approve Article 7 and provided that Danby and Mt. Tabor approve their ambulance funding, the Town of Manchester will purchase a new ambulance in May from their capital improvement (CIRC) fund - which will not have an effect on Manchester property taxes - and the town will receive annual lease payments from the four other towns served by the rescue squad. This purchase and lease structure will cap Manchester's annual participation in the ambulance fund to $20,000 per year - saving the town $48,000 over the course of the 3 year lease (as compared to the rescue squad's original fund).

This may sound complicated, but the important points are: 1) the Manchester Rescue Squad gets a much-needed new ambulance quickly; 2) all the towns served by the rescue squad must participate; 3) the Town of Manchester saves tax dollars.

So I urge to voters of Manchester to approve Article 7 and the voters of Danby and Mt. Tabor to approve their ambulance funding articles. I also want to thank the selectboards of Dorset and Winhall for approving ambulance funding in their budgets.

Ben Weiss

President, Manchester Rescue Squad Board of Trustees