The New Paltz Rescue Squad (NPRS) is a nonprofit organization that has been serving the town of New Paltz since 1973. The organization provides New Paltz with some of the fastest emergency prehospital care and has been recorded to cover 98.9% of all calls within the town within a five minute time frame. However, the service has faced financial problems and threatened to close due to the lack of funding.
The way the NPRS receives their income comes from two streams: taxpayer dollars and insurance billings. In July 2023, the chief of NPRS, Matthew Goodnow, went before the town board asking for them to revise the town budget and allocate more funding to the rescue squad.
At the time of Goodnow’s appearance before the council, the town budget had not increased since before COVID-19. Due to wage increases, the organization was unable to provide competitive wages for their workers. Volunteer numbers were also lowering, making budgeting peoples income a challenge for the NPRS.
The squad is also receiving limited insurance billings from Woodland Ponds, a senior living facility that made up of 28% rescue squad calls in 2019, because many of the people using the service were not going to the hospital. As a result, NPRS could not bill the patient’s insurance. In order to keep up with finances, NPRS considered making mutual aid calls to neighboring areas. The rescue squad currently has three ambulances that can be sent to pick up patients. With finances falling, the chief was considering using it more for calls outside of their usual servicing limits. These mutual aid calls would allow the organization to make more money, but the residents of New Paltz risk the loss of the efficient service.
After consideration and number pinching, the town board tentatively agreed to increase the town’s budget and allocate more funds to help the NPRS as per their Nov. 2 town board meeting. “It’s not a fixed cost, but I look at it as something we really have to do,” Town Supervisor Neil Bettez said during the meeting. In comparison to last year, the board increased the budget by $1,046,245. Of that budget, most of it is spending, which increased by $1.3 million. Revenues increased by $189,000 and $1,093,544 was in fixed costs like salary increases, workers comp, social security, retirement and insurance.
The board originally agreed to increase the budget for the NPRS by $100,000, but then motioned to increase it by $200,000 with all members agreeing. The previous year the rescue team only received $239,196. “That’s much less than other towns are paying,” Bettez explained. “Other towns are probably paying between $400,000 and $500,000 if they have private contracts with different firms.” It has always been up to the town to decide how much funds go to EMT services, however in most cases it’s vice versa. The municipality is usually the one that tells the town how much funding they require.
This decision also came with a 9.4% increase in property values to help allocate more funds to the squad. This year, the current recreation director for the town is set to retire, opening up a new position that the board wants to keep part-time. There was discourse of offering it as a full-time position, but the board decided to keep it as part-time to allow more funds to go towards the rescue squad. “We may decide that we wait a year for that and use some of that to try and increase the rescue squad,” explained Bettez.
Town board meetings are public access. They are held in-person at the town courthouse at 7 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of the month. They are also streamed live on YouTube and can be accessed anytime after the meeting is adjourned. The next meeting is scheduled for Nov. 16.