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!

  • Ali


  • Bill

    First of all they would have to get the state insurance commission to change the insurance laws making the insurance companies liable for the charge. If that did not happen then the insurance companies could just tell him to stick the bill where the sun doesn’t shine. Unless insurance policies had a clause stating that they would pay for emergency services, they don’t have to pay.

  • kgc

    This is totally ridiculous. It is double taxation and people are going to think twice about calling 911. If the town cannot live within the 2% property tax cap, they should go bankrupt. Towns should live within their means just like everyone else. If we didn’t have this property tax cap, our taxes will probably double in ten years while the home values will stay the same.

    On another topic, it is ridiculous that the NY city council passed the prevailing wage measure. Why should labor unions have this protection while everyone else has to fight for themselves? It is totally unfair. This is about buying union votes. The vast majority of non-union employees should band together and vote against candidates who buy the unions. Why do we have to end up paying the bill for them?

  • superponty

    Even bringing this up without voting on it was career suicide. The main problem is no one in government right now really knows how to balance a check book. Put some poor people in office that have good credit. I bet they can find a way to make it work. I’ll even give them a good place to start. Stop paying companies for screwing everyone on the planet like the oil industry. Stop rewarding the inability to run a company. No business is to big to fail because there will always be the next biggest one in line ready to take that spot. Saving the banks wasn’t for us it was for the government. Who do you think was going to have to pay off all those FDIC insured accounts?

  • mkozikowski

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

    Only a politician can come up with a statement like this.
    The town is already levying a tax to support the Fire Department. THEN they want to double dip to actually perform the duty for which the Tax payer is paying.

    THAT is UNETHICAL, may friend.
    And the actions of the insurance company is a direct, expected result of the town’s UNETHICAL behavior.

    I believe that all private businesses in the town that support this bozo and the fire department should charge their activity twice. Once for purchasing the service, and once for being permitted to leave the shop.

  • Lynne Allen

    I think that if you make a bogus 911 call that you should have to pay. Not in a real emergency…that is what taxes are for. Too many people call for stupid things…make them pay.

  • Robert Ryan

    Our towns and cities are hurting for money while the Military/Industrial/High Technology Complex just received over 600BILLION DOLLARS for just one year! And this with no more “Soviet threat” to contend with. Empires in this day and age are an expensive anachronism. The cost of projecting force is constantly rising while the costs of resistance (homemade bombs in Iraq, for example) is cheap. The reason that the United States is broke is largely because of this Empire THAT WE CAN NO LONGER AFFORD. George Washington warned against “entangling alliances.” It is time we took his warning to heart and STOPPED WORRYING ABOUT THE REST OF THE WORLD AND STARTED WORRYING ABOUT OURSELVES AND OUR PRESSING NEEDS AT HOME!

    • superponty

      That goes against everything this country has stood for since day one. We have always been about helping those in need. If you want to bitch about the defense budget thats fine but you should really think it through first. The budget is to large but it isnt because we help everyone out. It’s because we let every company that has a government contract gouge the crap out of the government.

  • HeyHey

    Why pay taxes? Shut up and fund the public union pensions

  • BL

    How many people won’t even bother to call their fire company because it may be cheaper to just allow the house to burn??
    Later,call their insurance agent and file a claim and build a new house or get the existing house repaired and maybe your premiums may go up a bit,but not more than a thousand dollars.
    Could this be the start of the “It’s cheaper to build a new house than call the fire company” culture??
    Is this going to be the start of “If it’s broke,in this case burnt, throw it away and buy a new one” philosophy!!??
    It just may be cheaper to let your dwelling burn rather than call your friendly,but
    costly,neighborhood fire company to put the fire out and then bill you later!!

  • John C

    Why not put emergency services in the budget and paid for with tax revenues? Oh that’s right, they’ve already given priority for tax revenues to non-emergency services.

  • Hobbes

    What are taxes for? Have emergency services now become subsidize, not part of the tax structure?

  • GCA

    I would call the fire department if my house caught fire, however, if my car caught fire, I’d probably just let it burn (as long as no people or structures were in danger). By the time the fire department reaches a burning car, it will be totalled. And since my insurance will cover the loss, why pay $600 to the fire department?

  • Trajan Long

    This article IGNORES the fact that in many states, rich pension packages account for 50% of every dollar of revenue BEFORE a single police car is filled with gas.
    This is the result of vote buying politicians using taxpayer money for the union vote. Doesn’t seem right, as FDR himself wrote.

  • SnotPuppy

    New Jersey? Really? Who cares? People who live there elected the idiots who run the state and the cities …. duh … you get what you voted for.

  • spock158

    Passaic is a dead town. Perhaps is should just burn to the ground. All decent people living there – move somewhere else more fitting for human beings. And moving to another town will at least provide you some services for the outrageous property taxes you have to pay.

  • edward

    cut pensons of the fire and police, cut the salary of the city counsel. then you should have enough tax money to pay for the services you are already paying for.

  • tnmccoy

    Perhaps this ‘cash strapped’ city should be reviewing the payroll first. Sounds like a mass firing is due. And the Mayor and Council should be first in line for pay cuts. And aren’t the emergency services already supported by taxes? Perhaps emergency calls should reduce the Mayor’s salary by $1,000 each occurrence. I think Pasaic will now see home and property owners refusing to call 911. Let it burn! It’s insured!

  • robert g

    Isn’t fire and police coverage the basic things that taxes are supposed to pay for?

  • Jamison Jergens

    This isn’t news.

    There are many fire departments and emergency responders that already charge this type of a fee.

    Insurance policies have provided coverage to pay for responder fees for decades.

    If there is an issue that is newsworthy here it should be a question of why thesedepartments haven’t been charging before.

  • Big Frank

    Many cities cry broke, and plead for more funds from the State and Federal governments. In the past the money was thrown at the cities, there was so much to go around. No questions were eve asked, such as, is your budget planning correct , and are their audits to control waste, fraud, and duplication of services? The answer to the Fire Departments’ problem is to merge the paid departments into a County Fire service. However in a ‘home rule’ state like NJ the folks in charge of their fiefdoms refuse to yield any power or control.

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