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Western Mass. town pushes for new tax on recreation to fund ambulance service

A woman on a zipline at Berkshire East in Charlemont, Massachusetts.
Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism
A woman on a zipline at Berkshire East in Charlemont, Massachusetts.

A western Massachusetts town official addressed state lawmakers Monday, asking them to support a bill that would allow the community to impose a 3% tax on commercal recreation services like rafting, skiing and ziplining.

Marguerite Willis, who chairs the selectboard in Charlemont, told the Joint Committee on Revenue that rural communities with small populations have a difficult time affording emergency services.

"It is our intent to fund paid EMT's and first responders on a limited basis for our ambulance," she said. 

Visitors to Charlemont significantly outnumber residents on many weekends.

In an interview, the town administrator said Charlemont currently relies on community members to staff ambulance service, and "if they're around, they show up."

She said people tubing on the Deerfield River on their own are a major source of calls requesting emergency help. 

Before joining New England Public Media, Alden was a producer for the CBS NEWS program 60 Minutes. In that role, he covered topics ranging from art, music and medicine to business, education and politics.
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