Bucks County Herald

Solebury set to vote on ambulance referendum

BIRGITTA WOLFE

Solebury Township plans to vote Aug. 15 on whether to create a voter referendum to increase taxes to provide 24-hour ambulance Advanced Life Support (ALS).

New Hope Borough would also vote on its own referendum at its August meeting since the service involves both municipalities.

The Solebury supervisors and New Hope Borough Council met July 31 for a joint work session on how to proceed.

The two ambulance squads involved, Central Bucks Ambulance (CBA) and Lambertville New Hope Ambulance and Rescue Squad (LNH), proposed to provide the following services, according to Solebury Supervisor Helen Tai:

– Central Bucks would increase ALS from 12 hours a day to 24/7. It will continue to provide one ALS responder unit and will not provide transport.

– LNH would continue to provide Basic Life Support (BLS) 24/7 and transport. Additionally it would increase its staffing.

One ambulance would be moved from Lambertville to Stockton to allow for faster response times to the northern end of township.

Originally Solebury considered eliminating the LNH squad’s services entirely.

But that view was reconsidered, Tai stated, because with LHN more units would be available for Basic Life Support (BLS) and transport (and able to handle multiple emergencies at once) and there would be faster response times for eastern and northern parts of township if the ALS unit is out on a call.

Without LNH, if more than one emergency occurred at a time, the second ambulance would have to come from Doylestown or Wycombe, increasing response time significantly for the eastern part of the township.

Also, she noted, LNH would continue to provide free standby at sporting and other public events (most companies charge $100 an hour for this service). If LNH were dropped, sports organizations would be charged for this service.

However, by keeping LNH services, the cost increases from $280,000 for CBA only to $311,000. The cost would be shared by New Hope and Solebury.

Supervisor Paul Cosdon had earlier estimated that the $280,000 price tag would have resulted in an increased Solebury tax bill of about $50 per household.

Still to be decided is how the tax payments should be allocated between the township and the borough – whether it should be based population or on the percent of calls for service.

Tai figured that Solebury has 77.5 percent of the total population, but its calls for service total only 58 percent of calls.

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