Last year Charlottesville made headlines when it announced plans to create its own city-owned rescue squad. A lot of people questioned the decision, especially given the success and standing of the Charlottesville Albemarle Rescue Squad, the existing volunteer service.
Now, very quietly, we're told the city is scrapping the plans for its own squads. One source says city ambulances aren't really needed; another says they cannot be afforded.
Either way, they're not going to happen, and the money set aside for them will help balance the city's bottom line.
Charlottesville Fire Chief Charles Werner says CARS is meeting the city's response time expectations, and a new ambulance at the Monticello Fire Station gives the city adequate coverage. But Mayor Dave Norris says it all comes down to balancing the budget.
"We've got other budgetary needs," Norris said. "It's a very tight budget environment. We're going to continue to move forward and look at how we address the gaps that are there in terms of ambulance coverage."
Werner says he will recommend to City Council that the plans for a city-run ambulance service be scrapped. Council set aside more than $750,000 for the ambulance operation.
With that service off the table, the city will not pursue any billing system for emergency services.