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Municipalities working to form regional EMS authority in northwestern Lancaster County

If formed, the authority would be the first of its kind in Pennsylvania, where all property owners are required to pay for EMS service.

LANCASTER COUNTY, Pa. — A nationwide crisis is now hitting northwestern Lancaster County.

“If we did nothing now, eventually Northwest EMS will be out of funds -- and this is what’s happening across the state," said John Yoder, township manager of West Donegal Township.

Northwest EMS, which serves over 65,000 residents, is operating at a deficit.

Now municipal leaders are proposing a solution to save it.

They want to form a regional EMS authority.

“In my opinion, this is the fairest option of all to make sure that funding is stable," said Yoder.

In the proposed plan, property owners in municipalities which join the authority would be required to pay an annual fee to support EMS service, including those that are tax-exempt.

West Donegal Township and Mount Joy Township are just two of the dozen municipalities which have expressed interest in becoming members.

“Do we want to pay an additional fee, an additional tax on anything? No, but I think to provide for the future of Northwest EMS, we have to do something," said Debra Dupler, township supervisor for Mount Joy Township.

A steering committee estimates annual fees would run anywhere from $70 to $85, which is in line with current Northwest EMS subscription fees.

If the authority comes to fruition, it would be the first in Pennsylvania where all property owners pitch in financially.

Some people have expressed concerns.

“Some residents will say ‘I pay my health insurance so that should cover me,'" said Yoder. "Well that’s fine that it covers you for an individual call, but it doesn’t cover the standby service required.”

Those supporting the proposal said pros outweigh the cons.

"There are EMS authorities all across the state that are shuttering their doors and we don't want that to happen here," said Dupler.

Right now, only 44 percent of residents pay a subscription fee in the northwest EMS coverage area.

The committee working to form the authority is currently drafting articles of incorporation.

Each member municipality must approve those, then the authority must get the greenlight from the state.

The goal is to have the new authority in operation by January 2024.

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