Town Supervisor Harry Buffardi is threatening to remove Rotterdam Emergency Medical Services Inc. as the town’s ambulance provider for not signing a contract, but the not-for-profit company claims in its defense that he drastically revised the contract from the original draft.
In a three-page letter sent to Nancy Casso, president of REMS’ board of directors, Buffardi accused the company of failing to execute a contract the town mailed “months ago” with no response. Absent this contract, he said, the town can move to rescind the board’s narrow approval late last year.
“The award of emergency medical services work in the town was conditional on the execution of a written contract with the town of Rotterdam,” he wrote in the letter, dated March 28. “Without a written contract, the town may revoke or rescind this award.”
Buffardi, who voted against awarding the contract to REMS in December, accused the ambulance provider of failing to have the proper staffing as outlined in the town’s original requests for proposal; not providing documentation showing the ambulances are equipped with GPS navigation systems; and failing to produce a monthly report of the company’s activity.
He also charges REMS hasn’t produced proof of adequate insurance and hasn’t forwarded about $5,000 in payments owed to Rotterdam for work done by the now-defunct town-funded paramedic service last year.
Dean Romano, a member of REMS’ board of directors, said Buffardi’s accusations are either misguided or untrue. He said the company sent a contract to the town in January that was identical to the one included in the proposal accepted by the town board, but the town never signed it.
Instead, Romano said, the town mailed a new contract back to REMS that drastically altered the terms of their agreement. Among other things, he said, the town inserted requirements for additional reporting, more tracking of the ambulances and disclosure of employee drug and alcohol tests.
“It was completely unacceptable and partially illegal,” Romano said of the contract. “I don’t know why they didn’t sign the contract we provided.”
He said as of this week, REMS has paid the town in full for everything it was owed. He said the last payments to the town were late, but only because the company lost $75,000 after the Buffardi administration ordered town dispatchers to stop sending REMS ambulances to calls last year.
“We were waiting for our cash flow to be restored,” he said.
Buffardi was joined by Deputy Supervisor Wayne Calder in voting against awarding the contract to REMS in December. Both supported giving the contract to Mohawk Ambulance, a for-profit company that has courted the town for more than a decade.
The town provides no funding to REMS. Likewise, the town’s request for proposals did not stipulate payments to the town and the proposal submitted by REMS did not offer any.
Romano doesn’t want the relationship between REMS and the Buffardi administration to further sour. Yet he believes the supervisor is searching for any reason he can find to void the contract.