Town, village boards approve transfer of Massena Rescue Squad

Dec. 30—MASSENA — The town and village boards have signed off on paperwork that officially transfers management of the Massena Rescue Squad from the town to the village, a move that will take place at 11:59 p.m. Friday.

The resolutions were approved during special meetings of both boards Thursday morning.

During their meeting, village trustees authorized an agreement with Massena Volunteer Emergency Unit Inc.; authorized an agreement with E5 Support Services and Massena Volunteer Emergency Unit Inc. for purposes related to emergency medical services; and authorized an agreement with the town of Louisville and Massena Volunteer Emergency Unit Inc. to provide general ambulance services for $7,000 per year.

Trustee Francis J. Carvel voted no on the resolutions, while yes votes were cast by Mayor Gregory M. Paquin, Deputy Mayor Matthew J. LeBire, Trustee Christine Winston and Trustee Chad Simpson.

E5 Support Services, a professional staffing, training, consulting and billing agency for emergency medical service agencies, staffs the Massena Rescue Squad from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., while volunteers staff it from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. The agreement with E5 is effective Saturday and is for one year, from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2022, at a rate of $244,314.97.

In their meeting an hour later, town councilors approved resolutions authorizing Town Supervisor Steven D. O'Shaughnessy to sign an inter-municipal agreement with the village, and authorizing Mr. O'Shaughnessy to sign the asset transfer agreement between the town and village.

Mr. O'Shaughnessy said the asset transfer agreement transfers all the property and assets of the rescue squad, but not the money, to the village. The town will pay bills that are generated up to Saturday, and the village will take over payment in January. The town will keep any resource recovery money generated by the rescue squad until the end of the year.

Councilor Susan Bellor voted no on both resolutions, while Mr. O'Shaughnessy, Deputy Town Supervisor Samuel D. Carbone Jr. and Councilor Thomas C. Miller voted yes. Councilor Albert N. Nicola was excused from the meeting.

"This has been a long process for sure," Mr. Paquin told trustees. "I'd like to thank Town Supervisor Steve O'Shaughnessy and former Mayor Tim Ahlfeld. These gentlemen put a lot of work into this. I think we can offer some resources at our disposal. That can really help with recruitment and retainment, and I'm looking forward to this."

During the Massena Town Council meeting, board members shared their views on the transfer.

"The village met at 10 o'clock and they had signed an agreement with the MVEU to provide manpower. They worked that out," Mr. O'Shaughnessy said.

Mr. Miller said he had been concerned about the village and Massena Volunteer Emergency Unit coming to an agreement.

"It was definitely a concern of mine moving forward. It was not going to happen unless the village had come up with an agreement with the MVEU, and they did so this morning," he said.

Mr. Miller said he had talked with the Massena Rescue Squad chief, "and he's all in favor of this move."

"Obviously, they are the busiest emergency service in the county and anything that this community, whether who owns it or not, can to do help them is a step forward," Mr. Miller said. "They are running over 3,000 calls a year. That's 10 to 12 a day on average. Some days they get a lot more. So, anything that we can do to help them by putting all the emergency services under one government body I think is a plus in my opinion. I think they look at it as a new beginning."

He said the move could help with efforts to recruit volunteers.

"I think it's a situation that's needed due to the fact that the country is in a situation of losing volunteers. The volunteers have been cut drastically everywhere, St. Lawrence County, Massena, right up through the state and across the country. So, we've got to keep adjusting because the volunteers save the taxpayers a ton of money," Mr. Miller, a chief with the Massena Volunteer Fire Department, said.

"Nobody knows the emergency service on this board more than you, Tom. I served briefly for 15 years," Mr. Carbone said. "I've been there and I know that it's quite a challenge to volunteer. Whatever we can do to make this the best service that Massena can have, I think we need to do — and that's the village managing like they do with the police and fire, and they do a great job with that."

"I think the rescue squad is going to a good place to be managed and work collaboratively with the village and make that emergency service available and continue to be available for the residents of the area and the outside areas," Mr. Carbone added.