The new Southampton Volunteer Ambulance building is going to cost more than originally anticipated. Over a million dollars more.
A public hearing will be announced this month so Southampton Town board members can hear from residents about the $1.5-million increase in the cost of the new construction.
Back in October 2018, Southampton Volunteer Ambulance personnel, EMTs, hospital workers, and crew chiefs flooded town hall to show support for an increase in the district’s budget and for a new building. At that time, estimates were at $2 million. In December 2018, early draft plans for a 7200-square-foot structure on North Sea Road were unveiled.
Now, the cost for the building is closer to $3.5 million, according to Jay Andreassi, a Water Mill resident and developer who founded Sabrosa Mexican Grill, and is donating a commercial kitchen; and town Comptroller Len Marchese.
“They’re not wants, they’re needs,” Andreassi said at a town work session on the topic November 7. “As of October 8 this year, we had certain items added — $166,000 worth — based on what the ambulance corps needed. Then we moved to interior furnishings, which brought that number up to $191,000.”
But it may not cost residents much in the long run, Supervisor Jay Schneiderman said. He said he’s not sure at this point the town will have to increase the tax rate, which was raised 22.45 percent for this year to cover the $300,000 design plan for the structure. The Southampton Volunteer Ambulance district is also seeking to purchase a $350,000 ambulance.
“We may be able to keep the rate right where it is. We’ll see,” Schneiderman said. “We have the sale of the building, potentially. We’ve got this additional one year where we’ve kept the rates the same, which will build up an extra $300,000. I’m not sure the rate is going to change, and if it does, it could be very small.”
The ambulance corps also had money in reserves — $150,000 — to appropriate. Board of directors’ member Jon Christensen said there’s $200,000 that could be added to it. While Schneiderman does not want the district to deplete its reserves, Christensen pointed to a yearly fundraising effort that brings in $60,000 to $80,000. Schneiderman said the town will also investigate a grant to reimburse the ambulance company for its coverage of the Shinnecock Indian Nation.
In March, the ambulance company closed on the purchase of 1256 North Sea Road and deeded it over to the town. Southampton is currently working on approvals, gaining zoning board of appeals variances October 17 for relief of its size and waiving apartment requirements above the building. Site and health department approval is in the works. Under town law, it will have a nitrogen-reducing sanitary system.
“We will have a public hearing, and if satisfied, adopt a resolution and move forward then to bond,” deputy town attorney Kathleen Murray said.
Because the rates were raised last year, the base is already higher, with no increase slated in this upcoming budget. In 2020, the money would need to be borrowed, and will be done through a one-year bond anticipation note, Marchese said, until the building is approved and the old one sold to defray some of the cost. The old ambulance building is estimated to cost between $500,000 and $750,000. The balance will then be borrowed through a long-term serial bond, which Marchese said would carry $250,000 in debt service to be paid in 2021.
“There’s a lot of moving parts in an ambulance district,” Marchese said. “This building is a big part of that.”
Southampton Volunteer Ambulance workers cover approximately 45 square miles, according to Christensen, from what used to be the Lobster Inn, to the Southampton Village boundary, through the Shinnecock reservation, up to Water Mill’s Deerfield Road, and around to Glenview Drive in Noyac.