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Forward Township to hold special meeting on EMS funding next month

FORWARD TWP — Officials from the township have taken a tentative step to try and resolve their emergency service departments’ funding problem.

The township supervisors has set a special public meeting for Wednesday, Oct. 18, to discuss possible solutions.

The time and date for the meeting was approved at Tuesday night’s monthly supervisors meeting.

The township has spent the past month researching methods on how to alleviate the funding problem for its three ambulance providers — Quality EMS, Harmony EMS and Butler Ambulance Service.

Forward Township is far from alone. In recent years, funding has been a constant source of frustration for emergency services across the Commonwealth, which have been forced to deal with the burdens of the COVID-19 pandemic, rising inflation, staffing shortages and municipal funding shortfalls.

Supervisors Chairman Mel Musulin denied that the township had any plans to divert funding from the township’s fire tax toward the emergency services departments. However, one of the ideas that has been considered is for the township to pay a “subscription fee” to each of the EMS agencies on behalf of all of the township’s residents. This fee would guarantee discounted rates for emergency care.

“That’s just one of our ideas to provide funding,” Musulin said. “Only about 14 to 20% of the residents buy the subscription.”

In the past month, a resident suggested that the township use money from Act 13, the impact fee which collects money from “unconventional gas wells” and redistributes it. Musulin discussed the idea with town solicitor Tom May, who said that this was most likely going to be frowned upon in Harrisburg.

“The essence of the thing was to give us money to mitigate the effects of gas pumps,” Musulin said.

The October special meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Forward Township municipal building and is open to the public.

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