At a special meeting Thursday, the City Council voted, 5-2, to hire a Syracuse company to collect ambulance charges, effective Friday.
The decision to contract with MultiMed Billing Services is the Council's second attempt to beef up the billing procedure.
Nearly $1 million in charges have accumulated over four years. In late November, the Council agreed to hire Med-Rev Recoveries of Liverpool to tackle the growing list of unpaid bills for ambulance calls, many of them outside the city limits.
After a 30-minute discussion Thursday, two Council members -- Rose Mary Christian and Timothy E. Buckley -- voted "no."
The debate focused on whether the city should train employees to collect and pursue payments instead of paying a collection firm 22 percent to 24 percent of what is collected.
But City Manager Jason R. Molino warned that part-time employees could not do the job and that training a new person probably would be more costly. Molino said no collections have been reported under the contract with Med-Rev, signed only two weeks ago.
The city took over ambulance service several years ago, replacing vehicles operated by the two local hospitals.