Passaic, N.J. Considers Charging For Emergency Calls

How Does $1,000 For House Fires And $600 For Car Fires Grab You?

PASSAIC, NJ (CBSNewYork) — When emergency crews respond to a car or building fire in Passaic, a bill might soon be sent out.

WCBS 880’s Levon Putney On The Story

When the Passaic City Council meets next Tuesday, Mayor Alex Blanco said what they will not decide to do is levy fees against people in car accidents or building owners whose structures catch fire.

What they will do is go after the insurance companies.

“If you are a policy owner, you are already paying for it — this fire department service charge provision,” the mayor told WCBS 880 reporter Levon Putney on Friday.

He said the fees would only be applied if claims are made, and no fees would be levied for those without insurance.

There would be a $1,000 fee to respond to fires in buildings over four stories high. Single, two, and three-family homes would be exempt.

As for car fires, auto insurance would be billed $600.

Of course, a concern is that insurance companies will simply jack up their premiums.

“I feel that it would be unethical on their part,” Blanco said.

This is just the latest way the city is trying to deal with its budget woes, including elimination of free Sunday parking and charging for designated handicapped parking.

“We have lost $2 million in [state] aide,” said Blanco.

He said he believes these fees would raise about $200,000 a year.

What do you think about the measure? Sound off in the comments section below!

  • LaTiPiCaL AfRiCaNiS

    This is racist! I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but this is racist!

  • Bill

    This was thought of in some counties in South Carolina. And it ended when a couple that had a house fire tried to fight it with the garden hose because they couldn’t afford to pay the proposed fee for the fire dept response.

    We pay property taxes to help pay for police, fire and rescue. But now more and more counties in several states are trying this saying they can’t afford to keep providing the services for free because taxes don’t cover it. Sad state of affairs.

  • micoz

    These public officials are yet another perfect example of jerks who cannot set proper priorities. Public safety is the TOP proiority, not what is left after money is wasted on everthing else.

    I see the mayor and city council are listed as “non-partisan,” but I also see the mayor was officially endorsed by Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ) ,so I know he is really a Democrat. The previous mayor departed in a corruption scandal. So is it a pretty good bet they are all Democrats.

    Like Democrats everywhere, they are fiscally irresponsible and have run the city into steep debt, to the verge of financial ruin. All municipal services are probably heavily unionized, and taking care of union payoffs is the top priority. The failure of President Obama to foster real economic recovery has driven things deeper into the hole.

    Citizens should demand real reform and spending cuts, not accept this ridiculous ploy to shift more city expenses to their insurance. Vote these jerks out and put in some responsible Republican oficials!

    Glad I got out of this part of New Jersey years ago and moved to North Carolina.

  • tdrag

    Welcome to Obama’s America.

  • RalphV

    What happens if you call for a fire at your neighbor’s house? Who gets billed? Better ignore it and go back to bed.

  • John Howarrd

    The new dispatcher script says:

    9-1-1 — What’s your credit card number?

  • acrscout

    So goes the story of a government run amuck, charge the masses “property taxes for these public services, then charge them user fees on top of the taxes to pad the bank accounts of the bureaucrats, on top of that they call me every year asking me to “donate” to the “relief funds” for the families of the people who people who actually patrol the streets and fight the fires, always using the emotional plea that no one takes care of them.

    So where is all the tax & fee cash going? If it is not going directly to the people fighting the fires and patrolling the streets, it is little more than another bureaucratic scam to rip off the common man.

  • Walter

    The halcyon days when state and local governments were flush with cash are over – and they are not coming back. People are going to have to decide what is important for their government to provide. Revenues will continue to decline and no amount of “taxing the rich” is going to cover everything governments previously were able to provide.

  • Joestable

    Using this logic, every public school student should be charged to attend school.

  • Spanky T Smackme

    Pay for essential services that property taxes are collected for ??? Lets INSTEAD reduce political salaries and pensions…..Remember, the politicos work for US, not us working for them………Stay within your budget and STOP rasing taxes every time you turn around. I and a lot of voters are getting totaly fed up with the THEFT by legislation.

  • tax victims

    We pay taxes for public servants if they sit around all day or save lives all day what the hell is the extra money for you dumasses

  • Lana Churner

    Too funny.
    People pay their property taxes for what?
    Oh yeah, roads, schools, police and fire departments.
    But when the liberals squander all those monies on failed social programs taxpayers have to pay extra for what?
    Oh yeah, schools, roads, police and fire departments.

  • anne bright

    Eliminate the unions and their high pensions and benefits. Privatize as much of the city xervices as possible, cut administrative staff by 10%. Run the city like a PRIVATE corporationl

  • Big Frank

    Public safety is always the first to face the budget ax. When in reality school budgets take up to 80% of municipal expenditures. In northern NJ in the past few years quite a few Firefighters have made the ultimate sacrifice, giving their lives to protect life and property. Most fire departments are severely under staffed due to years of budget tightening , however the firefighters do the best they can with the limited manpower and equipment afforded them. Only large cites like NYC have 4 and 5 person crews per company. A well staffed, equipped, and trained Fire Department is an asset to any community. These days most Fire Departments also perform many tasks besides fire suppression. These include Hazardous materials responses, auto accidents, first aid, elevator rescues, industrial and workplace rescues and a host of other responses. Other than a law enforcement issue the Fire Department is always there to respond to any kind of incident.

  • James Woods

    Then we can simply do away with the fire departments because unless these departments are different than where I came from taxes are suppose to cover them.

    What does it mean when insurance companies will be billed but those without insurance won’t? Isn’t this the opposite of what this country needs? Why wouldn’t an insurance company raise a rate; it’s more costs they need to incur.

    Once again; the bottom gets a free ride.

  • roury

    Libs gone wild. Should I eat, or call the cops on that rapist?

  • Real Rick

    Expect your insurance price to go up fast. The people with insurance will be eating these events.

  • Mary

    Picking the pockets of misfortune.

    Start a lottery. The shortfall will be gone in a week. I’m not kidding.
    As opposed to thousands of unwilling and resentful victims,
    you’d have thousands volunteering a couple of bucks to lady luck.

  • superskeet

    So if the Supreme Court strikes down the ObamaCare mandate forcing us to buy health insurance, will that also strike down the mandate to use emergency services if there is a fire? They can’t force us to buy it if we don’t want it!!!

  • Jim

    Does the euqal protection clause apply here? They will bill only if the property is insured? Sounds discriminatory.

  • waynellewis

    The taxes pay for having the capability to fight a fire. I cannot believe they did not already charge the insurance companies prior to this. It is just like health insurance paying for your ambulance cost. I guess that is why you are going broke.

    I would charge for those without insurance also. They actively planned to make their neighbors pay for their mistakes: cigarettes, stove, heating iron, faulty wiring. Short of a lighting strike and rats, every house fire is caused by a preventable event – not God.

  • Drdarby

    Why don’t you cut some of those overpaid useless government employees. The people are already taxed for the service.

  • GGM

    Why is this news? Fire & EMS Departments have been billing homeowners insurance and health insurance companies for over a decade in most areas.

  • lar

    Then they are getting rid of property taxes??

  • Fed Up

    For the most part let it burn, that goes for Detroit and the other cesspool’s.

  • Dave Harvey

    Wow – I thought that’s what we paid Taxes For – What Happened to All of That Money – Hmmm?

  • SerfCityHereWeCome

    C’mon taxpayers, if you want to ensure that goobermint doorstops and paperweights worth $1.40/hr can retire on a living 6-figure pension after 10 grueling weeks on the job, you’ve gotta pony up.

  • Rob

    Wow. It’s been a long time since I have seen so many stupid comments on a news item.

  • Bob A

    Why do we need public fire and police service if we have to pay on an as-use basis? Sounds like a perfect time to privatize these services!!!

  • stonedome

    move out…let it crumble and die, illegals will flee. buy properties back at pennies on the dollar…make it what it used to be 60 years ago. nj cities have been sliding to the bottom for years…best state i ever left

  • B C

    Agree with most comments here. If they’re going to charge per incident, then, they should reduce the tax levy intended to cover this service.

  • DKS

    I have a better idea, get rid of the city council and combine some of the municipalities in NJ. I’ll bet that would save enough to pay for fire calls. Why does there have to be another town every 6 blocks, each with its own Mayor, Counci,l Police and Fire Chief, DPW, School Board, etc. etc. Half the people lin NJ must work for some level of government.

  • makdaddy

    If I was a property owner who paid taxes and this law became the law of the land…I’d let it burn then…let the insurance pay…damned if I am going to pay twice.

  • old farmer

    So, what is left of government services. Pay a Mayor, and other administrative personnel, negotiate for “living wages for fire and police etc. but when they do something, the taxpayer must pony again for their service.

    Sounds like Mr. Corzine and how he pilfered money. Oh wait. Who elected him? As Governor? As Senator? The big city voters of New Jersey. Who lauded him as a good man? Can you say: Obama?

    The voters of New Jersey have too long “been with the program”.

    What is even more scary is that major urban mindset will soon run the entire country. The votes are bought in cities. That’s why they are dominately socialistic. That is why they are broke.

  • Google watcher

    Gee, what are they doing at Google …

    Visitor Analysis & System Spec
    Referring URL:
    Host Name: Browser: Chrome 18.0
    IP Address: — [Label IP Address] Operating System: Linux
    Location: Los Angeles, California, United States Resolution: 2560×1600
    Returning Visits: 0 Javascript: Enabled
    Visit Length: 2 hours 15 mins 38 secs ISP: Google

    Navigation Path

    Date Time WebPage
    Mar 30 05:18:45 PM

  • Mark

    What in the h e l l are the taxes being used for? What a s**thole.

  • Hotguyg

    This mayor might be on to something but going after the insurance is not going to work. A better idea would be for the police dept. to charge for the hundreds of domestic violence phonce calls they get. Usually to the same addresses every weekend. Having ambulance crews charge for “gas pain” and “i got scared” 911 calls is anither good idea.

  • Phantom1947

    I have worked as a Firefighter/Paramedic for 20 years. If my car were on fire and I knew the Fire Department planned to charge me $600 to come and extinguishe it I would call them and tell them NOT to come. If no one were in my house and about to die I would just as soon they let it burn to the ground – insurance companies tend to rip people off for “salvageable” parts of a house. I would prefer to start over in a new location.

  • obama

    What an idiot this mayor is. If you’ve been responsible and purchased insurance you are pursued. No, it’s not the insurance company. It is YOU. The insurance company only pays on your behalf.

    And to forgive those who drive cars without insurance is not only stupid, it’s irresponsible.

    I rarely visit NJ but I will make sure none of my money EVER gets spent in a gas station, hotel, or other business anywhere near this $hithole of logic!

    If you elect morons you get bad governance.

    • Jim

      We will end up paying anyway because most every policy has a deductible which might be 500 or a thousand buck; or more.

  • joe

    nyuk, nyuk, nyuk
    NJ goes down and takes Christie with it
    nyuk, nyuk, nyuk

    • SerfCityHereWeCome

      Buy yourself a clue. Christie is trying to deFUBAR the epic train wreck that Jon the looter Corzine left him on the state level and in case you hadn’t noticed this is a LOCAL issue, shockingly (NOT!) taking place in yet another Depressioncrat-bankrupted-and-looted town.

  • Matthew

    Only the government can get away with charging TWICE!!

  • Kolgoroth

    It only makes sense to charge people after disasters ruin their lives. To the mental giant that thought of this laughable fee, I spit on you.

  • Caesy McConnaughy

    That’s fine. Just don’t collect tax revenue for the purpose of running the fire department anymore.
    This bothers the hell out of me. WE ALREADY PAY FOR THE FIRE DEPARTMENT!! It doesn’t matter if there is 1 fire a day or 10. They are already being paid by the taxpayer

  • asonofhendrick

    $1,000 For House Fires And $600 For Car Fires – this is how it used to be.
    Subscribe to fire service if you want it. If not, pay per call.
    Why should everyone pay for fire protection they may not want or ever need?
    Like a private ambulance, if you want one – pay for it yourself – not the public.

  • janvones

    Emergency services are the essence of local government. What exactly is the budget money going for that these jacksses are charging for essentials as if they were luxuries? Christie needs to sic the state attorney general on them.

  • Man

    Wait just one second, then why do we pay local / property / state taxes. Part of theses taxes are suppose to be used for them services.
    Just another way to squeeze a buck.

  • Pat


  • Not Chicken Little

    What do they pay their taxes for, and why? Why haven’t the officials planned and spent the income the town gets in a responsible manner? Somehow I suspect that Passaic is another Democrat-run liberal paradise…

    • vinny goomba

      they pay their taxes to throw into an enormous toilet composed of a vast network of useless liberal intercity social programs.

  • FedUpWithBigGovernment

    Ummm… one question: then what are the property taxes for? If my city is going to charge me ala-carte… then screw paying the property taxes…. that would be a fairer system…

  • Paul Goetz

    Are these people crazy? Incompetent politicians need to be removed! and now not later!

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