Griswold Ambulance, town officials negotiating possible contract
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Dec. 16, 2013
Griswold town officials say they have reached a tentative agreement to keep Griswold Ambulance in town, but the details are still being hammered out.
First Selectman Kevin Skulczyk said at a Dec. 9 Board of Selectmen’s meeting that the board, in executive session, “all agreed on going forward” and was planning to work out a two- or three-year contract to keep the ambulance service in town.
However, Griswold Ambulance Chairman William Czmyr, who attended the executive session, said that “all we were talking about was funding.” While the selectmen may have hopes for a two- or three-year contract, “three years wouldn’t be helpful,” Czmyr said. He said the ambulance company would be seeking a five-year arrangement with the town.
Any additional funding to keep the ambulance company locally owned now rests with the Board of Finance. The Board of Selectmen would have to put its request for additional funds for the ambulance company on the Board of Finance’s agenda for discussion and approval, Czmyr said. The board’s last regular meeting of 2013 was scheduled for Dec. 17.
The ambulance company was put up for sale in October, when its board of directors said that funding from the town was insufficient to cover the service’s expenses. Czmyr said that the company is still listed with the Holdsworth Group of Cromwell, Conn., with a starting bid of $350,000.
Holdsworth Group President Bob Holdsworth said that “there are interested parties” in buying the company. But he noted that negotiations with the town were the top priority. “The bottom line is that the citizens will still have coverage,” and that 911 calls will still receive a response, he said. “It’s unfortunate that we have gotten here,” he added.
The funding dispute hinges on the ambulance company’s annual budget request, which in recent years has been successively trimmed by each board whose desk it crosses. Despite a request for $158,000 for the current fiscal year, the selectmen cut the amount to $65,000, as it did the past two years. The line item was then, in turn, trimmed to $20,000 by the finance board, a sum that ambulance company officials say only covers the company’s worker’s compensation.
The company, which dates back to 1941, employs two full-time staffers and 26 per diem employees. It responds to between 1,200 and 1,500 calls annually in Griswold, as well as augmenting volunteer ambulance services in Preston, Lisbon, Canterbury, Moosup and Voluntown.