Town, REMS both say they want to ink an agreement
ROTTERDAM Rotterdam Town Supervisor Harry Buffardi says he wants to move on signing a contract with Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services Inc.
“We want to get this resolved,” the Democratic supervisor said.
Dean Romano, a member of REMS’ board of directors, say REMS is prepared to sign a contract as early as next week’s Town Board meeting, if not sooner.
“We’re ready to move on it — we’re ready to sign the contract tomorrow,” he said.
But the two sides aren’t coming to an agreement just yet.
REMS representatives will be at the Town Board meeting at 7 p.m. Wednesday to answer any questions board members might have about the contract.
The session comes after Buffardi sent a letter to the nonprofit ambulance service, accusing it of failing to execute a contract that the town mailed “months ago.” In that correspondence, dated March 28, Buffardi said that the town, absent the contract, could rescind the board’s 3-2 approval of REMS as its ambulance service provider.
Buffardi and Deputy Supervisor Wayne Calder voted against awarding the contract to REMS in December and supported giving the contract to the for-profit Mohawk Ambulance, which has courted the town for more than a decade.
Romano argued that REMS hadn’t signed the contract because it was drastically altered by the town to include requirements for additional reporting, more tracking of the ambulances and disclosure of employee drug and alcohol tests.
Romano has since sent the town a revised contract. He outlined the changes in a letter dated April 8 that also addressed Buffardi’s accusations that REMS, among other things, failed to have the proper staffing as outlined in the town’s original request for proposals and failed to produce a monthly report of the company’s activity.
According to Romano’s letter, REMS is staffing two paramedic ambulances 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and monthly transport reports have been provided both electronically and by mail to Deputy Chief of Police G. William Manikis.
“We have already addressed all of their questions in a letter that we sent to the town and we are going to be there to answer any questions, and hopefully we can sign a contract,” Romano said.
Buffardi said he doesn’t expect the board to act on the contract at Wednesday’s meeting. But he said finalizing the contract soon is a matter of concern for the town.
“Without a contract, we’re putting the town in jeopardy, and actually we’re putting REMS in jeopardy,” Buffardi said.
One of the questions that the town has, he said, is about the timeline of the contract. The latest contract REMS sent to the town, however, says the service would be for five years effective Jan. 1, 2014.
“We have not heard back from the town yet,” Romano said. “They keep saying they want to move on the contract? Let’s move. I’m ready.”
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara, D-Rotterdam, has started an online petition in an effort to keep REMS as the community’s first responders.
“I’ve received a lot of calls asking about this issue and what was going on,” he said. “The community has clearly been very supportive of keeping REMS, and I wanted to put together a petition because I believe REMS should continue to be part of our community for years to come.”