Nothing is for free
Erlanger, Ky., officials plan to issue fees for police and emergency medical services to the insurance companies of out-of-town drivers who cause accidents inside the city, saying they do not want the cost of the service to come out of their residents’ pockets. Opponents say the fees could discourage outsiders from visiting and spending money in cities that charge the fees.
American City & County asked the readers of its weekly e-mail newsletter if fees for emergency services are an effective way to recoup losses, or if they threaten economic growth. Below are some of the responses.
“I believe that, for the most part, these fees are reactionary and somewhat shortsighted. I can understand charging a fee for a service that a person chooses to use. [But,] who ever ‘chooses’ to have a fire or a vehicle accident? Can a person who has been involved in the accident refuse the service?”
— Ken Dubuc, assistant chief/fire marshal, Port Angeles, Wash., Fire Department
“Yes, the fees are justifiable. [Drivers] should pay when at fault. I have a real problem with the ‘not-being-accountable-for-their-own-actions’ society we’ve become. We should always charge the person (non-resident or resident) who has caused an accident or incident that requires services to be rendered.”
— Capt. Tim Maroder, Elgin, Ill., Fire Department
“If a municipality charges a motorist’s insurance company for the emergency services’ time, that specific municipality will indeed recoup a portion of funds used to support these services. But, on the backside, [insurance companies] will pass this cost onto the consumer, who, by law, is mandated to buy their product.”
— Chief G. Randy Gentry, Andover, Ohio, Police Department
“The idea of charging for [emergency service] has grown out of control. This opens the door to commercial competition, and governments should not be engaged in any business function which competes with private industry.”
— Pete Kirby, retired 911 supervisor, Fairfax County, Va.