OFFICE OF FISCAL ANALYSIS

Legislative Office Building, Room 5200

Hartford, CT 06106 (860) 240-0200

http: //www. cga. ct. gov/ofa

HB-5537

AN ACT CONCERNING WHEELCHAIR TRANSFER SAFETY.

OFA Fiscal Note

State Impact:

Agency Affected

Fund-Effect

Various State Agencies

GF; TF - See Below

Note: GF=General Fund, TF=Transportation Fund

Municipal Impact:

Municipalities

Effect

All Municipalities

STATE MANDATE - See Below

Explanation

The bill places requirements on vehicles used to transport individuals in wheelchairs. For the various state agencies and municipalities that have wheelchair accessible vehicles, the bill may result in increased costs to meet these provisions, however the magnitude is unknown. There are various factors that will impact the potential cost of such requirements: 1) whether the vehicles currently comply with the bill's provisions; 2) the authorizing state agency's specification of a device that secures a wheelchair to a lift; 3) vehicle replacement schedule (most of the newer vehicles, model year 2006 and later, include devices to secure wheelchairs to the lift); and 4) whether the vehicles would need to be retro-fitted (estimated at $400) or have a more costly complete lift replacement undertaken ($4,500).

For example, a state agency with significant use of wheelchair accessible vehicles is the Department of Mental Retardation (DMR), which uses 92 wheelchair accessible state vehicles (most of which are leased through the Department of Administrative Services' fleet vehicle program - DMR pays a monthly lease fee). Of the 92 vehicles, 49 are 2006 models or newer and therefore are already fitted and appear to meet the bill's requirements. Of the remaining 43 vehicles, it is unknown how many would require a retro-fit or lift replacement due to the department's current fleet replacement schedule (the agency is currently in the process of replacing the older model wheelchair accessible vans).

In addition, the department contracts with over 135 private providers for day and residential services. There are an estimated 450 such vehicles in use by the department's private providers. As with the DMR, there are various factors (see above) that would impact any potential cost to the private providers (such as vehicle replacement schedule and the applicable regulatory agency's specifications). It is anticipated that any additional cost incurred by the providers to meet the bill's requirements would be passed on to the department.

Requiring school buses to have devices to secure wheel chairs to lifts results in a cost to local and regional school districts and to the state (Department of Education) through the reimbursement mechanism of school transportation grants. Information is not available as to how many school buses would require such devices, however, as stated elsewhere in the fiscal note, the cost to retrofit vehicles would range from $400 to $4,500.

The Department of Transportation estimates there are 800 public transit buses and vans that would require wheelchair lifts, either retrofitted or replaced, in order to meet the provisions of this bill. The cost of retrofitting or replacing lifts on vans range from $400 to $4,500, whereas the cost of replacing lifts on buses range from $18,000 to $25,000 each. Since it is unknown how many lifts would have to be replaced, the cost cannot be determined but is anticipated to be significant (more than $5 million).

Passage of this bill is not anticipated to result in a fiscal impact for municipally-affiliated ambulance services. It should be noted that only commercial ambulance services utilize vehicles that can accommodate the transfer of a patient in a wheelchair from the ground to the vehicle.

Should the Departments of Public Health, Motor Vehicles, and Transportation choose to adopt regulations, it is anticipated that they will do so within their normally budgeted resources.

The bill establishes a new infraction1 that is expected to generate minimal revenue to the General Fund.

The Out Years

The annualized ongoing fiscal impact identified above would continue into the future until all state and municipal vehicles are in compliance.

1 Pursuant to CGS 51-164m, Judges of the Superior Court determine the fine amount for infractions, which must fall between $35 and $90. Additional statutory surcharges of $39 in total would apply. The minimum amount due for this infraction would therefore be $74.