City accepts emergency contracts, not without heavy debate

NORWICH – Members of the Common Council heavily debated the city’s obligation as an emergency services provider Thursday, amidst what Mayor Joseph Maiurano is calling a county-wide “crisis situation.”

The council ultimately voted unanimously to raise ambulance rates and to renew its emergency services contract with the Town of Norwich, North Norwich, and the Plymouth Fire District, which expired in December.

However, high overtime and operation costs coupled with the local cutbacks at Superior Ambulance pushed council members to reconsider the use of its equipment and resources, fearing – that if overextended – the tough times faced by local fire departments could hit the City of Norwich hardest.

At issue was the $1 annual fee paid by the Plymouth Fire District to contract primary ambulance services from the city’s fire department without also contracting its actual fire service, as the Towns of Norwich and North Norwich do for a monthly five-figure fee.

“There is no way it’s equitable for the City of Norwich to provide an ambulance to the Plymouth Fire District,” said Ward 6 Alderman Robert Jeffrey. “I understand mutual aid, but I also have a fiscal responsibility to the taxpayer. What is the advantage to the city taxpayer to provide ambulance service to the Plymouth Fire District for one dollar?”

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