A close vote in one community in the Poconos is costing them their volunteer ambulance corps. Not enough people voted "Yes" on a tax that would have kept the corps in business.
The president of the ambulance corps said he is disappointed after people voted against a referendum that would have raised their taxes, but he said would save lives.
Now, the township is deciding how to replace the 50-year-old ambulance corps. The Barrett Township Volunteer Ambulance Corps. in Mountainhome will be serving its community for a few more months until it shuts down.
By only 67 votes township residents rejected a plan to increase taxes to make up for the corps $400,000 budget shortfall. The additional revenue would have kept the corps, of 20 members, in business.
A township board member said he's disappointed with the voter results. "People didn't realize how important saving lives is. And having service locally to make it more effective and less time," said Township Secretary Michael Stirr.
Stirr said it's now up to the board of supervisors to figure out how to make do without the ambulance corps, which has been in operation since 1950.
The corps fell on hard times last year and has been dealing with financial trouble.
The corps solution a tax increase. "We're talking about care, we're talking about emergency situations. We're in a remote area of Monroe County. We're the furthest north and the hospital is quite a ways away from us," added Stirr.
The board of directors for the ambulance corps said it will continue working for another four months. Then close up shop. The building will be sold, plus all of the equipment inside.
Two residents who couldn't get out to the polls Tuesday have mixed feelings about the results.
"In the end, I think I would have voted no. I would love to support the local ambulance corps and I feel they're important to have in a community, but I didn't feel the supervisors considered enough options," said Nancy Hooke of Barrett Township.
"It's a lot longer of a drive for any other EMT area to come out here and help," said Courtney Coffman of Barrett Township. "Now there's going to be a lot of people who might die."
The board of supervisors will be meeting next Wednesday to discuss the closing of the ambulance corps. and what to do next. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at the Barrett Township Municipal Building in Mountainhome.