"If private providers are forced out of business because a city like Utica decides to use tax- dollars to fund its own, it will force other cities to do the same. It can leave rural areas with no service and tax-payers holding the bag at the end of the day," says Jim McPartlon, President of the United New York Ambulance Association.
Ambulance services from across New York State came out to Utica to support Kunkel Ambulance. Though this bill just effects Glen Falls and Utica, they say it sets a precedence for ambulance services across New York State.
"We're supporting Kunkel but its more important, we're supporting ourselves. It's a terrible piece of legislation. This bill, if it's passed, will affect every municipality in New York State," says David Butler, CEO of TLC Emergency Medical Services, operating out of Cortland County.
Kunkel says this bill will allow two cities in the entire state of New York to bypass the law every other provider must follow. And she says it will mean increases in municipal ambulance rates and taxes.
"That should not be the role of the state legislature. They should not be stepping in when big government wrongs a private citizen and create a special set of rules just for the big government. We should all be afforded the same protections," says Catherine Kunkel, Vice President of Kunkel Ambulance.
The amended version of the bill passed the Assembly on Thursday. If the law is passed by the Senate and signed by Governo Cuomo, the Commissioner of the State Health Department will decide whether Utica and Glen Falls will have the right to run their ambulance services.
"It's an important bill that has to be defeated. It's devastating to municipalities. I can't impress upon you enough how much this is gonna cost taxpayers," says Butler.
Advocates of the bill were not present at the news conference. But Mayor Palmieri gave Eyewitness News a statement. He says, "Kunkel has been in existence for multiple years and they have been very successful. The city of Utica has no intention of putting them out of business and we will continue to work with Kunkel as we have in the past. And we look forward to working with them in the future."
The senate is expected to vote on the bill before the end of the legislative session this Thursday.