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Fees approved for ambulance transport, trash in Waterville

Waterville residents this spring will start paying fees for ambulance transport as well as for trash pickup.

Council last night established fee rates for both services, action taken as part of efforts to erase a shortfall in the 2010 general fund budget as the community faces increasing costs and dwindling income and property taxes.

Beginning in April, residents will pay $200 for basic life support transport and $250 for advanced life support transport, plus $8 per mile, which is half of what nonresidents have been paying. There would be no fee charged if a resident calls 9-1-1, and then declines to be transported, James Bagdonas, village administrator, pointed out after the meeting. The village plans to "soft bill," which means insurance companies would be billed and if the insurance companies fail to pay, no action would be taken to pursue payment from residents.

Mayor Derek Merrin voted no on both resolutions, repeating his opposition to the fees, and he said the "soft billing" would create disparity because some residents would pay the ambulance transport fee out of their pockets while others would elect not to pay the bills.

Mr. Merrin said residents already pay for basic safety services and for trash service through their income and property taxes. Councilman John Gouttiere voted no on the trash fee because it only would run from May 1 to February, 2011, a year short of when the village's contract with Stevens Disposal ends.

The monthly trash fee will be imposed for each of the 2,013 units along the refuse collection routes.

The new fee, the first for Waterville, is estimated to bring in $208,949 a year. The fee will cost a household about $100 a year.

In recent years, the village's expenses have been outstripping its revenue, and council has been considering ways to trim expenses and find new sources of money, such as through revenue enhancements

Council, for instance, cut funding for its holiday party, coffee for employees and committees, the July 4 fireworks, the fishing derby, the public works open house, and Music in the Park, and eliminated the village subsidy for the YMCA summer recreation program and the Waterville Historical Society.

The general fund, which covers the administration, the police and fire departments, and the income tax and zoning departments, includes $3,356,729 in revenue and $3,281,935 in expenditures for 2010, leaving an end-of-year balance of $176,461.

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