Wiscasset selectmen

Legal opinion sought on ambulance contract

Wed, 08/07/2019 - 8:45am

Wiscasset and Dresden officials have a different understanding as to who’s responsible for uncollected ambulance fees. The uncollectables, as they’re called, are for Wiscasset EMS calls to Dresden residents who didn’t or couldn’t pay.

Wiscasset EMS Director Dennis Simmons first brought the matter to the select board’s attention two weeks ago. Documentation collected by Simmons for Tuesday night’s meeting included the ambulance agreement with Dresden and select board minutes from both towns.

Selectman Ben Rines Jr., filling in as chair in the absence of Judy Colby, said he was inclined to adhere to the terms of the contract. But before taking further action, the board agreed to have the town attorney review the contract’s wording.

Wiscasset Treasurer Vernice Boyce told the Wiscasset Newspaper, Dresden owes Wiscasset EMS $6,923 for ambulance services. Two weeks ago, the Wiscasset board voted unanimously to write off $106,219 in uncollected ambulance fees going back to 2017. Boyce explained this amount didn’t include monies owed by Dresden. “It was monies owed ... from Wiscasset residents,” she said.

According to the supporting documentation, in spring 2017, then-director Toby Martin received the board’s permission to negotiate with Dresden officials for ambulance coverage. The select board voted 4-1, then-select board member Larry Gordon Jr. dissenting, to allow Martin to enter into negotiations with Dresden officials for providing EMS coverage. A motion that passed stated, “If Dresden backs out of the contract, it would be responsible for the uncollectables.”

Minutes from the Dresden select board’s May 15, 2017 meeting stated as of that date they’d paid Gardiner $15,998 for ambulance services. “Wiscasset Ambulance is $6,000 this year, $6,500 next year and $7,000 in year three. We only pay uncollectables if we cancel our contract,” the minutes state.

As stated within the contract, “In the event Dresden terminates the Agreement before the expiration of its term, Dresden shall still be responsible for payment of the uncollectables.

“Furthermore, Dresden shall still be responsible for any bills that are or will become uncollectable between the period of July 1, 2017 and the last day that Dresden was a party to this agreement. Payment of such uncollectable amounts shall be due within 30 days of receipt of an invoice from Wiscasset.”

In other business Tuesday, Erin Bean of Dresden was introduced as Wiscasset EMS’s new deputy director. Simmons told the board Bean was one of 11 candidates; 10 were interviewed. She clearly stood out among all the candidates, he said.