Flycars, Fund Balances, and “Flat-Broke” Towns

Posted November 17, 2023

Enfield Councilperson Robert Lynch, addressing the Public Safety Committee of the Tompkins County Legislature November 16th on proposed cost-sharing agreements for the “Pilot Rapid Medical Response System,” the Flycar Service, designed to speed and enhance emergency medical responses to rural communities and to commence in 2024:


I want start by giving you three numbers as you work today through your agenda:

“The first number:  $72 Million.  I know that number bounces around.  But that’s the number that legislator Greg Mezey quoted as Tompkins County’s Unassigned Fund Balance in 2022. So I’ll accept Greg’s word.   He used that number, $72 Million, at your Legislature’s November 8th meeting, when you approved a next year’s budget calling for a 2 per cent tax levy increase.  Mezey argued with that large a Fund balance, no increase should occur at all.

“The second number:  $ 522,877 Dollars.  That number’s a lot smaller.  On the same night that you approved your budget, we, the Enfield Town Board, approved ours.  That $ 522,877 is what our comparable General Fund Balance is projected to be at the end of this year.  And it’s just Seven-Tenths of One Per Cent of the $ 72 Million that Greg Mezey cited.

“The third Number:  $ 462,877.  That Number is $ 60,000 less than the last.  That’s what we project the Enfield General Fund Balance will be at the end of 2024.  Why?  Because for the lack of a better term, we have to “rob” the Fund Balance to pay day-to-day bills; rob it to the tune of $60,000 for one year alone.

“Why do I present these numbers?  Because today your committee will consider a Resolution that would direct Administration to ‘invite’ municipalities to enter into a ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ regarding  cost-sharing for what’s now called the ‘Pilot Rapid Medical Response System’ or PRMR, better known as the ‘Flycar Service.’

“Department of Emergency Response models have suggested up to 50 per cent municipal funding for the flycars; with 50% options that could cost Enfield $ 29,000, $ 38,000, maybe even $ 58,000 a year.

“Where’d that money come from?  Out of our meager… and dwindling Fund Balance for sure.

“Today’s Resolution says the Memorandum of Understanding would need to be in place before the flycars start rolling.

“Now there may be a ‘memorandum,’ perhaps, but I predict within the towns, there’ll be a whole lot of ‘misunderstanding.’  Speaking as one Town Board member, I wouldn’t vote for spending that kind of money.  If Enfield needs to spend $58 Grand, I’d say we should hire our own person, to put that own person in our own fire house, with our state-of-the-art flycar and answer Enfield calls ourselves.

“Someway… somehow, something that started out as very good went terribly wrong.  But then the Bean Counters took over.  We had a good idea.  I lobbied for it here, perhaps harder than anybody else would.  But then the Bean Counters took over.  ‘How much can we squeeze out of the Towns,’ they said.  And by the way, leave the City off the hook.

“Please, rethink this today.  Send the Legislature a different message.  We, the rural towns, are flat-broke. We can’t bankroll even 50 per cent of this cost.  But with a $72 Million in Fund Balance, you, Tompkins County can do so.  Please fund the flycars today with County money.   

“Thank you.”


The Public Safety Committee discussed the Resolution at length later in its meeting, revised and softened the Resolution’s language, but retained the directive toward negotiating a “Memorandum of Understanding” between Tompkins County and the Towns for potential cost-sharing. The committee’s Resolution next goes to the County Legislature, which may consider it for adoption in December. / RL