February 27, 2014EFFINGHAM — Officials in Ossipee are banking on voters here approving a tremendous increase in the cost of providing ambulance service in Effingham. Ossipee officials have even gone as far as saying that Effingham residents "have no choice." Not so fast.
Until last year, both towns were in a contract with Lifestar EMS. Ossipee selectmen have never given a full public accounting of their reasoning but voted last fall to terminate that town's contract with the ambulance provider.
CarePlus has been providing ambulance service in Ossipee on a month-to-month basis since, awaiting a vote at Town Meeting that will give selectmen the go-ahead to sign a two-year contract. Meanwhile, even though officials in Effingham publicly praised Lifestar, that company was also forced, on their own decision to terminate its contract with Effingham. That town has also been on a month-to-month contract with CarePlus since.
This winter both towns put out the request for proposals, looking for companies to bid on providing ambulance service to their respective towns. After negotiating, reworking the RFP, and putting it out to bid again, Ossipee selectmen announced the best deal that town could get. On the March town meeting warrant, Ossipee voters will be asked to approve $562,822 to pay for the first year of a two-year contract with CarePlus. Voters used to paying $200,000 per year for ambulance service may have their sticker shock lessened somewhat by knowing that not all of that will come from property taxes. Selectmen plan to take $100,000 of the cost out of the town's rainy day fund (surplus). Additionally, if Effingham voters approve $130,000 for one year of ambulance service (up from $30,000 in previous years), Ossipee's contract cost will be reduced by $130,000.
Effingham officials apparently aren't ready to just take the deal. They have reportedly been doing extensive research and the legwork that has led them to try one more time to get a more cost-effective contract for Effingham taxpayers.
With that, the selectmen are advertising once again for ambulance providers interested in holding Effingham's contract, and LifeStar EMS is expected to bid in this go-round. Bids are due March 4.