The Lockport Common Council voted on, but ultimately failed to pass, a resolution Wednesday to seek bids from other ambulance service providers to potentially replace Twin City Ambulance once its contract with the city expires Sept. 15.
The resolution failed in a contentious 3-2 vote, after it failed to gain support from a four-member majority of the council. 5th Ward Alderman Rick Abbott was absent from Wednesday’s meeting.
The resolution’s failure appeared to surprise 3rd Ward Alderman Mark S. Devine, 2nd Ward Alderman Anita Mullane and Alderman-At-Large Joseph O’Shaughnessy, all of whom voted in its favor and have repeatedly expressed support for returning ambulance service to Lockport Fire Department.
Mullane and O’Shaughnessy argued that the resolution should have passed because it received support from the majority of council members present.
City Clerk Richelle Pasceri produced a copy of the New York Conference of Mayors training manual and read aloud detailing meeting procedures.
“Unless otherwise specified by state law, a majority of the totally authorized voting power of the council must vote yes for the matter to pass,” reads a section of the NYCOM training manual.
Corporation Counsel John Ottaviano interjected that New York State General Construction Law requires that resolutions receive majority support from all members of a municipal governing body, not a majority of members present. Ottaviano sent a memo to Mullane, Devine and O’Shaughnessy Thursday outlining that section of state municipal law.
Mullane later told the US&J she is consulting attorneys on state municipal law.
Devine, who introduced the resolution and has previously pushed to return ambulance service to LFD, said he feels the city could find a more responsive ambulance provider at a better cost to city taxpayers.
“This is a discussion that we want to have. And part of that discussion could be another ambulance service coming in and offering us a financial stipend,” said Devine, reasoning that LFD “supplements” Twin City by also responding to some emergency calls.
Devine also accused Twin City of not continuously stationing two ambulances in the city.
Terry Clark, president of Twin City, said they use a dynamic system in which resources are stationed based on past call volume. That means there are often three or more ambulances in the city during high-volume daylight hours, but sometimes only one during the low-volume early morning.
If they do get a call during the early morning, Twin City will shift another ambulance to replace the busy one, Clark added.
“It’s a continuous system. Every time one goes out, we shift another one to the city,” he said. “We’ve had times when we’ve had eight (ambulances) taking calls (in the city).”
Mayor Anne E. McCaffrey dismissed Devine’s arguments that a Request for Proposals could bring the city a…