Ossipee ambulance contract bids more than double costs

December 12, 2013
OSSIPEE — Two proposals for the three-year ambulance service contract were opened by selectmen at their weekly meeting on Dec. 9. They made no decision on awarding the contract, but, judging by the figures released so far, it appears that Ossipee taxpayers will be paying over twice as much as they have been used to in years past.

The first bid opened was received from American Medical Response (AMR). Selectman Harry Merrow announced that their proposal is to provide ambulance coverage for $450,000 per year at the paramedic staffing level or $428,000 at the emergency medical technician intermediate level (EMT-I). The other proposal was received from Care Plus at a staffing level of EMT-I and at a first-year cost of $562,822. Merrow said the Care Plus proposal offers a savings to Ossipee of $100,000 if the town of Effingham agrees in a separate contract to also do business with Care Plus. Effingham selectmen are scrambling to work out a deal for ambulance coverage in that town where initial estimates have taxpayers there shelling out up to $200,000 a year for coverage when they are used to paying only $25,000.

Care Plus/North Conway Ambulance is the current ambulance coverage provider in Ossipee. At their Dec. 9 meeting selectmen signed an agreement to contract with the company until April 2014, after they terminated the contract with Lifestar EMS earlier this year and needed a company to step in and provide coverage while they negotiate the new three-year contract. LifeStar had been charging $199,992 per year to provide Ossipee coverage.

Selectmen here are expected to make a decision "soon" in order to meet the deadline to get the money in the proposed 2014 budget.

In other selectmen's meeting news, the board voted against the Town Clerk's request to apply for Moose Plate grant funds to offset the cost of preserving town records. Merrow said the town has old record books, some dating back to the 1700s that are required by law to be kept permanently. He said though he is unsure just how many books there are, the cost to preserve just one is $9,887, an amount he said "seems steep."

"That doesn't seem steep; it seems ridiculous," said Selectman Richard Morgan. He is opposed to the idea of grant money just because "if Ossipee doesn't someone else will." He said that if "everybody believes that way, nothing will ever change" and argued that the books should just be left in the condition they are in. His fellow board members agreed and voted down accepting the grant.

Public Works Director Brad Harriman informed selectmen that an odor investigation and air quality test was done in the Town Clerk's office this week and it was determined there is no elevated level of mold spores. While this is very positive news, steps are being taken to improve the circulation and quality of air in the town offices, including removing cardboard and other items stored in a crawl space and getting a proposal with cost estimate from an HVAC company.

News was finally received that progress is being made on the N.H. Department of Transportation response to concerns about the safety of the Route 16 and Route 171 intersection. This location has been the scene of many serious accidents in recent years and selectmen have been pushing or a fix to the problem. A presentation of the NHDOT remedy and cost is expected at a selectmen's meeting in the near future. Though no date has been set, selectmen were clear they want to have this meeting as soon as possible.

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