In two separate actions July 7 the Board of Selectmen approved a three-year contract for 24-hour paramedic services, and a two-year contract for the town’s emergency communications staffers. The action on the communications contract occurred following a brief executive or closed session, during which proprietary aspects of the labor negotiations were discussed.
The communications contract has been in negotiations since it expired at the end of the 2013 fiscal year, so the 1.9 percent increase is effective for both the past and current fiscal years according to Finance Director Robert Tait. Mr Tait said that the difference the increase represented for the last fiscal year will be paid to each member of that bargaining unit in a lump sum.
During negotiations, the town and emergency communication workers also agreed on reducing the length of each worker’s shift from 12 to eight hours. That change will go into effect immediately.
While the change increases the amount of hours each member will work from 36 to 40 hours weekly, along with their base pay, Mr Tait said the move is expected to save almost $40,000 annually because it will reduce the amount of overtime expenses being paid out in the coming year.
Prior to the action on the paramedic contract, Ambulance Association representatives Dr. Robert Grossman and Bruce Herring appeared before the selectmen to briefly explain the outcome of negotiations with Danbury Ambulance, the local paramedic service provider.
Dr Grossman affirmed that the new contract was approved unanimously by the Ambulance Corps Executive Board, and will continue 24/7 coverage for the town by a paramedic who will be supplied with a Danbury Ambulance response vehicle. That vehicle and medic will be stationed at the ambulance headquarters.
In the event the town’s paramedic is on a call and a second call for advanced medical response comes in, a second paramedic will be dispatched from Danbury Ambulance to cover the call.
The first year of the new contract will continue at no increase in cost, while years two and three will each see a 1.9 percent increase in the contract cost. A fourth year option was also negotiated, and if the town chooses to exercise that optional one year, paramedic services will be provided with no increase over year three of the new contract.
The current annual contract for paramedic services is $230,000. The town budget covers approximately 75 percent of the contract with the balance paid from the ambulance corps budget.