Monday, September 6, 2010

Desperate Cities Turn Their Fire Departments Into Revenue Machines

September 6, 2010

Imagine that you're in a traffic accident, that's not even your fault, and an ambulance, police, and fire units respond. A few months later you get a bill. A bill for ambulance transport is not unusual, but in these days of economic crises and collapsing budgets, many cities now send out bills for the fire department response, too, to try to reduce their own costs. Police and fire departments are doing this in at least 26 states, says the Property Casualty Insurers Association, which opposes such fees. The AAA also opposes the fees. Jill Ingrassia, the AAA's managing director for government relations and safety advocacy told the New York Times that, "Generally, we see that public safety services are a core government function that should be properly budgeted for with general taxes and not addressed by fees after the fact." Bill collecting agencies, such as Cost Recovery of Dayton, Ohio, are all over the practice, however, since they get a portion, generally 10 percent, of any bills successfully collected, which makes the entire practice suspect.

Meanwhile, the disintegration continues.

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