CARS not budget beneficiary
When Charlottesville announced its biggest-ever budget, the city pointed out that close to $1 million would be used to supplement the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad with an ambulance and staff. CARS president Larry Claytor called a press conference today to announce that the longtime rescue organization had not been involved in city plans to improve response times until a meeting last night, and that the $966,122 earmarked for EMS in the budget would not be coming into CARS' coffers. "We had no input into any of the budget process," says Claytor, who is running for Albemarle sheriff.
"We're not trying to take over the rescue squad," says Charlottesville fire Chief Charles Werner, who was present at the announcement. Instead, he pointed to Albemarle County, which can no longer depend on the strictly volunteer model, a staffing phenomena that's happening around the country.
The city is also looking to "enhance revenues" by charging $400 for each ambulance call, says Werner, who says the current budget allocation would allow for 24-hour ambulance service. And he notes that CARS has never asked the city for money.
CARS board member Jay Levine did not seem convinced there's a problem with the response times of CARS, which runs 5,000 calls a year, and says it's a good idea to look at whether there's a system-wide problem.
There's still time for citizen input on the budget: A budget forum will be held at 10am Saturday morning at Buford Middle School. Light refreshments will be provided.