PUTNEY -- Putney residents made their voices heard loud and clear by voting overwhelmingly to put extra money into the proposed fiscal year 2015 budget to continue using Rescue Inc. as the town's ambulance service.
At a special town meeting Thursday night Putney residents voted 141-33 to add about $22,000 to the budget to convince the Selectboard to sign a contract with Rescue Inc. for FY 2015.
The board originally presented its budget with enough money in it to switch the town's ambulance service to Golden Cross Ambulance of Claremont, N.H., a move that would have saved about $22,000.
Golden Cross was offering a contract for FY 15 for $36,447, while the Rescue contract came in at $58,769.
At Town Meeting in March voters put the money back in for the Rescue Inc. service, but a petition was handed in calling for a re-vote.
The meeting Thursday night was well attended, with about the same amount of people showing up for the special vote as did for this year's Town Meeting.
The meeting started about 30 minutes late as a long line formed to verify voting registration.
The vote Thursday increased the FY 2015 budget to $1,896,408, and the extra money will add about $10 to the tax bill for each $100,000 of assessed value on a property.
After Thursday night's vote a property owner with a $200,000 home, for example, will pay an additional $20 next year.
At the meeting Putney Fire Chief Tom Goddard said the Selectboard asked all department heads to look at their budgets this year and Goddard said he began looking at ambulance service options.
Goddard said Golden Cross and Rescue offer the same service, and after looking at both options Goddard said the town decided to try Golden Cross for at least a year.
"With all things being equal, we have a firm belief that with these services, there is no service that is better than the other," Goddard said. "When it comes to money we figured, why not go with something that is a little different."
There was not much debate at Thursday's meeting, but most of the people who did comment supported Rescue Inc.
Burt Tepfer, a cardiologist at Brattleboro Memorial Hospital, said there was a difference between the services offered by the two companies.
He said Rescue's fleet size, and the level of service it offers, make it a better option for Putney.
And Robert Nassau, who is also a physician, said all of the towns in Rescue are in it together and he said it was important to support Rescue in case its service was needed when outside of Putney.
"When I have a problem I want to know I am being served by a first class organization," Nassau said. "That's what we have with Rescue."
Howard Weiss-Tisman can be reached at 802-254-2311, ext. 279, or firstname.lastname@example.org.