Town could take over ambulance service fund
First selectman calls emergency meeting, offers solution
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.
The Morris Board of Selectmen, finance board and volunteer fire department met Wednesday evening to discuss the future of ambulance service in the community.