West Allis to charge non-residents for crash response

CREATED Dec. 12, 2012

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WEST ALLIS - Firefighters answered the call when two cars crashed Wednesday in the intersection of Highway 100 and Cleveland Avenue in West Allis.  City paramedics moved a woman and a baby in a car seat to an ambulance.
 
“We provided the medical care and had an engine company for cleanup,” Battalion Chief Michael Schauz told TODAY’S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray.
 
The West Allis Common Council unanimously decided that when emergency responders help people from outside their city, those people should help pay for the services.  The city will start charging the non-resident fees in January.
 
Co-sponsors Ald. Michael May and Ald. Rosalie Reinke met with reporters outside city hall.
 
“It’s a 250-dollar fee,” said May.  “There could be ten cars involved.  It’s one 250-dollar fee.  That fee is then sent to the insurance company.  Then, the insurance companies decide who is at fault.”
 
The fee will only be applied when the fire department actually provides some type of service.  If firefighters or paramedics respond and are not needed, there will be no charge.
 
“We came up with an ordinance that we thought would be fair and equitable to our taxpayers,” Reinke said.
 
May said about a dozen Milwaukee area municipalities have some type of emergency response fee, though most do not discriminate between residents and non-residents.
 
Andy Franken of the Wisconsin Insurance Alliance said most insurance providers oppose what he calls a “crash tax.”  According to Franken, certain policies cover municipal emergency response fees and others do not.
 
“It is not good policy to assess fees against crash victims,” he said.
 
May said the common council will monitor how the fee is applied and make changes if it is not working.