We’ve known for quite some time that the relationship between the Village of Voorheesville and the Voorheesville Area Ambulance Service has been far from peachy. But as bickering between the two parties continues, it has become increasingly clear it’s time to seek a permanent solution that’s best for the residents of the village.
It will be difficult to determine whether that’s a seismic shift, continuation of business as usual or something in between given the current environment, though. We warrant things have become toxic enough there are very few level heads left. What’s needed is a fresh, unbiased look.
As we’ve previously reported, negotiations over the 2013 contract between the village and ambulance service were fraught with standoffish and intractable behavior – exactly who was exhibiting it depends on whom you ask. It’s led to village officials being particularly open about researching dropping VAAS altogether, which has led company officials to be outspoken about what they say is unfair treatment by the village.
Things came to a head yet again this past week. Mayor Robert Conway had very publicly aired some of his concerns about VAAS in the town newsletter, and in response, dozens of VAAS supporters showed up to a Board of Trustees meeting to put their thoughts on the record.
Though the entire situation was described by one ambulance company member as a “pissing contest” (which seems a fairly apt summation at this juncture), at least one constructive idea emerged from the meeting: the formation of a committee to examine the future of ambulance service in the village.
Things have become convoluted enough that neither side can agree on even the simplest facts, figures or events, and that does not bode well for the upcoming 2014 contract negotiations. When two sides are unable to come to an agreement, the common practice is to summon an arbitrator. In this instance, an independent and impartial group of citizens and officials could serve the task.
Honestly, it’s well past time for such a measure, given the degree of confusion and disagreement that’s been commonplace in recent months. And with the possibility of options other than continuation of VAAS coverage on the table, the case for an in-depth study is made all the stronger.
The people of the village deserve a frank look at the costs and benefits of making a change – one that’s assembled with cool heads not involved in the ongoing fracas. Let’s move on from the business of finger pointing, and get on with the business of mending this situation for the public good.