NAUGATUCK — After years of fighting in court, the borough and Naugatuck Ambulance Corp. are getting ready to come to an agreement.
The Board of Mayor and Burgesses approved a settlement between the two parties at its meeting May 3. The settlement had not been approved by the ambulance company as of early this week.
The borough and the ambulance company have been at odds since 2012, when Naugatuck Ambulance said it would not house a “fly car” in the borough to respond to emergencies during the day. The borough began to look into the possibility of replacing Naugatuck Ambulance with another ambulance company as the borough’s main emergency service provider.
In 2013, the contract between the borough and the ambulance company came to an end and the borough opted not to renew it. Since the contract ran out, the borough stopped paying Naugatuck Ambulance.
Under the previous contract, the borough had been paying the ambulance company $148,000 a year, which covered the cost of the dispatch fees from Northwest Connecticut Public Safety Communications Center Inc., a third party provider that takes emergency calls and dispatches the ambulance.
In 2015, Waterbury Superior Court ruled that Naugatuck was responsible for the cost of providing the dispatch fee. The decision, which was appealed by the borough, would have cost Naugatuck $478,000.
Under the settlement approved by the board, the borough will pay Naugatuck Ambulance $200,000 in back fees. Upon payment, the ambulance company will withdraw its case against the borough and, in turn, the borough will withdraw its case against Naugatuck Ambulance, according to the settlement.
According to the settlement, going forward the borough will be responsible for the dispatch fees. However, rather than pay the fee to Naugatuck Ambulance, the borough will pay it directly to Northwest.
The settlement also stipulates that Naugatuck Ambulance will convey the property located at 246 Rubber Ave., which is where the ambulance company operates out of, to the borough by way of deed. In turn the borough will enter into a three-year lease agreement with the ambulance company, leasing the building out at a cost of $1 per year.
The settlement also requires Naugatuck Ambulance and the borough to enter into a new agreement for the provision of medical services. The new agreement will detail the level of service required, staffing requirements and response time requirements.
Mayor N. Warren “Pete” Hess said the $200,000 due under the settlement will come out of funds from the current budget and will not have an impact on the 2016-17 budget.
Hess said the settlement is good for Naugatuck, given that the borough was facing nearly $500,000 in fines.
“I believe the compromise that has been given to us by our attorney is a good resolution. That’s why not only myself but everyone on the board voted unanimously to settle the case,” Hess said.
Attorney Dominick Thomas, who represents Naugatuck Ambulance, said he had not seen the final copy of the settlement as of Monday. However, he was happy that the two parties were able to reach an agreement. He said reaching a settlement is beneficial to both the borough and the ambulance company.
“It assures the continued level of service Naugatuck Ambulance has been providing to Borough of Naugatuck,” Thomas said. “It benefits Naugatuck Ambulance because litigation is never a good resolution to any problem.”