Town could take over am­bu­lance ser­vice fund

First se­lect­man calls emer­gency meet­ing, of­fers so­lu­tion

The Register Citizen (Torrington, CT) - - FRONT PAGE - By Ben Lam­bert wlam­bert@reg­is­ter­ci­t­i­zen.com @WLam­bertRC on Twit­ter

MOR­RIS >> The im­passe over who will man­age the money for am­bu­lance ser­vices may be re­solved at last.

First Se­lect­man Tom Weik called an emer­gency meet­ing Wed­nes­day night, invit­ing mem­bers of the Mor­ris Vol­un­teer Fire Depart­ment, the Board of Select­men and the Board of Fi­nance and made a pro­posal to re­solve the is­sue: turn any monies col­lected for am­bu­lance rides over to the Board of Select­men, and the board will pay the bill.

Now the fire­fight­ers must de­cide whether they will agree to trans­fer any am­bu­lance fees they collect from pa­tients who re­ceive ser­vice to the town, as­sur­ing that Mor­ris will have that ser­vice un­til the end of the fis­cal year in June.

The agree­ment be­tween the fire­fight­ers and VinTech, a Tor­ring­ton-based com­pany con­tracted to pro­vide day­time EMS ser­vice, ex­pires April 30 and EMS ser­vices have been part of an on­go­ing dis­pute be­tween the fire depart­ment and the Board of Select­men since its rev­enue re­cov­ery agree­ment ex­pired last May.

Vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers, as the providers of the pri­mary emer­gency ser­vice area for Mor­ris, ad­min­is­ter and collect fees for am­bu­lance ser­vices in town. In 1999, they sub­con­tracted day­time EMS ser­vices to VinTech. Un­der the rev­enue re­cov­ery agree­ment, the depart­ment would trans­fer the bulk of the col­lected funds to the town on two oc­ca­sions each year, once in Jan­uary and again in July.

The depart­ment con­tends that the last pay­ment they were ob­li­gated to make un­der that con­tract was paid in Jan­uary 2016, while the Board of Select­men ar­gues that a sec­ond pay­ment is re­quired. The depart­ment does not have the funds to pay VinTech to ex­tend its ex­pir­ing con­tract, MVFD Pres­i­dent Kevin DeRoehn said Wed­nes­day.

Weik’s pro­posal re­quires that any col­lected am­bu­lance ser­vice fees to be placed into an es­crow ac­count ded­i­cated to the fu­ture pur­chase of fire and EMS ve­hi­cles.

In re­turn, Weik said, the town would pay the VinTech bill for May and June, al­low­ing EMS ser­vice in town to con­tinue un­in­ter­rupted through the end of the fis­cal year.

“That way, you put that money away, it stays there, it doesn’t get pulled out for some other cap­i­tal non-re­cur­ring project,” said Weik.

DeRoehn said he was re­cep­tive to the idea and that he would bring the pro­posal to the depart­ment’s mem­bers for a vote no later than Mon­day.

“We’ll get a yes or a no on this, and if it’s a yes, we sit down and hash out a new agree­ment,” said DeRoehn.

The details of the pro­posal have yet to be de­ter­mined, and DeRoehn said Wed­nes­day that any agree­ment must first re­ceive ap­proval by the depart­ment’s at­tor­ney.

The board and fire depart­ment must also ne­go­ti­ate a long-term agree­ment to gov­ern the fu­ture of po­ten­tially dis­puted funds.

BEN LAM­BERT — THE REG­IS­TER CIT­I­ZEN

The Mor­ris Board of Select­men, fi­nance board and vol­un­teer fire depart­ment met Wed­nes­day evening to dis­cuss the fu­ture of am­bu­lance ser­vice in the com­mu­nity.

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