Opinion 98 - 9
AMBULANCE DISTRICTS -- Contracts (imposition of charge per call by entity providing service) -- Fees (imposition of charge per call by entity providing service)
AMBULANCE SERVICE -- Contracts (imposition of charge per call by entity providing service) -- Fees (imposition of charge per call by entity providing service)
FEES -- Imposition of (by entity providing ambulance service pursuant to contract)
This is in response to your inquiry concerning the imposition of user fees within an
ambulance district. You indicate that the town has established an ambulance district and
contracted with a not-for-profit ambulance company to provide services within the district.
Further, you indicate that the town pays a fixed consideration to the ambulance company
pursuant to the contract and that no provision has been made for the imposition of user fees on
persons requesting the use of the services provided by the ambulance district. You ask whether
the ambulance company may impose a fee on those making use of the company's services within
the district and provide for the payment of that fee to the company.
(i) Acquire by gift or purchase one or more motor vehicles suitable for such purpose and supply and equip the same with such materials and facilities as it may consider necessary for prehospital emergency treatment, and may operate, maintain, repair and replace such vehicles and such supplies and equipment;
(ii) Contract with one or more individuals, municipal corporations, associations, or other organizations having sufficient trained and experienced personnel except an emergency rescue and first aid squad of a fire department or fire company which is subject to the provisions of section two hundred nine-b of the general municipal law for operation, maintenance and repair of such emergency medical service or ambulance vehicles and for the furnishing of prehospital emergency treatment;
(iii) Contract with one or more individuals, municipal corporations, associations, or other organizations except an emergency rescue and first aid squad of a fire department or fire company which is subject to the provisions of section two hundred nine-b of the general municipal law to supply, staff and equip emergency medical service or ambulance vehicles suitable for such purposes and operate such vehicles for the furnishing of prehospital emergency treatment;
(iv) Employ any combination of the methods authorized in
subparagraphs (i), (ii) and (iii) of this paragraph.
The above-mentioned provisions were added to the Town Law pursuant to chapter 24 of
the Laws of 1988 and were intended to allow a town board to provide ambulance service within
an ambulance district in the same manner such service may be provided on a town-wide basis
(see Mem of Department of State, 1988 McKinney's Session Laws of NY, at A-10).
Consequently, these provisions parallel those found in section 122-b of the General Municipal
Law, which authorizes the provision of general ambulance service on a town-wide basis.
We note that subdivision 2 of section 122-b was amended by chapter 303 of the Laws of
1980 to provide that a municipality "may provide for the collection of such fees and charges or
may formulate rules and regulations for the collection thereof by the individuals, municipal
corporations, associations or other organizations furnishing general ambulance service under
contract . . . " (emphasis added). The sponsor's memorandum in support of this legislation
clearly indicates that it was intended to address certain portions of the opinions of this Office,
discussed above, by permitting the collection of fees by persons or entities other than the
contracting municipality (1982 Opns St Comp No. 82-26, p 33). Although the 1980 legislation
created an exception to the general rule that municipal fees must be collected by the appropriate
municipal officer or employee (see 1990 Opns St Comp No. 90-53, p 120; see also Mem of the
Division of the Budget, Bill Jacket, L 1980, ch 303), it has remained our view that section 122-b
requires that the amount of any fee or charge to be imposed for services rendered be fixed by the
municipality and that since "such fees or charges" are municipal charges, the "rules and
regulations for the collection thereof" should require proper recordkeeping and accounting by the
person or entity collecting the fees or charges on behalf of the municipality (1991 Opns St Comp
No. 91-20, p 64; Opn No. 82-26, supra).
June 17, 1998
1. To the extent a town board has not fixed a schedule of fees or charges to offset the costs of an ambulance district, Town Law, §§202(3) and 202-a(1) provide that the costs of establishment and operation and maintenance of an ambulance district shall be assessed against the properties within the district on an ad valorem basis (see 1993 Opns St Comp No. 93-26, p 46). Similarly, to the extent that a town board has not fixed a schedule of fees or charges to offset the costs of general ambulance service provided pursuant to General Municipal Law, §122-b, the cost of such a service would be a town-wide charge (see 1988 Opns St Comp No. 88-69, p 137; 1980 Opns St Comp No. 80-85, unreported).