The Hermon Town Council passed a town budget proposal on Thursday night that included $210,240 in new funds for the local volunteer ambulance service — a decision that earned thanks and a round of applause from a group of residents that has been pushing for the funding.
Councilors unanimously approved the $5.3 million municipal spending plan, which is up $235,201, or 4.65 percent, from this year’s budget. It will also need to be approved by residents at the annual town meeting on June 13.
During their regular meeting, councilors also passed a $14.5 million budget for the Hermon School Department, which is up 4.8 percent from this year and will likewise need to be approved at the town meeting.
Those combined budgets would raise Hermon’s property tax rate to an estimated $12 per $1,000 of value, up from $11.60 now, according to Town Manager Howard Kroll. That means someone with a $100,000 home would have to pay $1,200 in property taxes next year, or $40 more than this year.
The Hermon Volunteer Rescue Squad, an independent nonprofit ambulance service, has not received regular funding from the town since 2010 and has accrued around $300,000 in debt in recent years because its expenses have outpaced its revenues.
The town did provide about $50,000 in stopgap funds to the service in the last year, but a group of residents has been pushing the town to raise much more than that to ensure the town has reliable emergency medical coverage.
The service requested $210,240 from the town this year, which is the amount it needs to be staffed around the clock by two people making the minimum wage.
The debate over whether to fund the service has been heated at times, with supporters of the service becoming frustrated with councilors who held multiple closed door sessions to discuss the matter.
Watch: Hermon Town Council meeting: ‘Are you going to call people liars?’