After a year-long cooperative process, eight municipalities in Northwest Lancaster County including Penn Township have incorporated a first-of-its-kind regional municipal authority to address our local emergency medical services crisis.
The new Municipal Emergency Services Authority of Lancaster County will fund, manage and provide EMS services in the eight municipalities. The founding municipalities are Conoy Township, East Donegal Township, Elizabethtown Borough, Elizabeth Township, Marietta Borough, Mount Joy Township, Penn Township and West Donegal Township.
Why was the Municipal Emergency Services Authority formed?
The path to forming the authority began in 2018, when municipalities in northwest Lancaster County were at a crossroads with the future of emergency services at risk.
Northwest EMS in northwest Lancaster County, which was recognized as Pennsylvania EMS Agency of the Year in 2020 by the Pennsylvania Emergency Health Services Council, was facing insolvency due to insufficient revenue and rising costs. Many EMS agencies across the state are also struggling to maintain services in the face of soaring costs, funding shortfalls and staffing challenges.
Penn Township and other municipalities in the region needed a bold solution to continue to meet their statutory obligation to ensure EMS readiness to answer the call.
How did the municipalities arrive at this solution?
At the start of 2021, a committee of local municipal leaders began studying the situation and exploring alternatives. Upon conducting an analysis, the committee arrived at the creation of a municipal authority as the best path to fund and provide EMS readiness and services on a regional basis.
Over a period of several months, the committee engaged in municipal public meetings, additional public education initiatives and a public hearing on the proposed solution. The process culminated in eight municipalities in the region enacting ordinances to form the Municipal Emergency Services Authority of Lancaster County. The authority was incorporated on February 7.
How will the authority work and what will I have to pay?
The Municipal Emergency Services Authority of Lancaster County will be governed by a board consisting of a representative from each of the authority’s founding municipalities. The board will be responsible for determining the authority’s services and fees.
Instead of generating operating revenue through voluntary municipal and membership contributions (as Northwest EMS does today), the authority will set a reasonable and uniform annual fee to property owners, on par with Northwest EMS subscription rates.
As a regional municipal entity, the authority will hold public hearings, enabling community members to have a voice regarding any changes to services or rates.
When will the authority begin operating?
The authority will begin holding board meetings in March. Meetings will be advertised. A list of meeting dates and the meeting location is also posted at SavingEMSforNWLancaster.org.
A public hearing is expected to be held in late summer on the authority’s emergency services and fee structure. The authority plans to be operational and begin providing services in 2024.