Battle of the Budgets, the Next Episode of Another World: Stratford Style

13Jun16

dollar attack

Next, on Another World:  Stratford Style!

Tonight, for your entertainment pleasure, the “Battle of the Budgets.” The first Town Council meeting since the overinflated budget was approved AND the BOE Meeting where their budget to spend that outrageous $6.8 million given to them is approved.  Tonight’s episode will contain answers to the following questions:

  • Will Chairwoman Daponte have a change of heart (doubtful, but we could hope)?
  • Will the budget lies continue?
  • Will council members come to their senses and fight for the people who elected them?
  • Will they really make cuts to our EMS services?
  • Will the truth set them free?
  • Will the BOE budget be rubber stamped without question?
  • Will World Language really be eliminated in elementary schools?
  • Will the BOE Board finally come to the realization that there are inaccuracies?
  • Will Superintendent Robinson’s contract be renewed?
  • Should Superintendent Robinson’s contract be renewed?

 

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7 Responses to “Battle of the Budgets, the Next Episode of Another World: Stratford Style”

  1. Wait. What? Two tower trucks for FD, raises for non-union Directors, and cuts to EMS. Can someone tell me if there are more heart attacks and strokes in Stratford than there are fires in 90′ tall buildings?

  2. It is quite outrageous what Councilman Harden is saying about EMS. He was asked why he wants to eliminate an ambulance and responded with:

    “At this time, Stratford EMS is uh, certified by the State to have seven ambulances (asked for clarification) seven, I believe… and they barely, they they have trouble staffing the ones that they have, and in the past we’ve had new vehicles and they’ve satten[sic]….” He goes on about how when new vehicles don’t get used, they break down.

    I have asked folks at EMS about this and here is the correct info:

    Stratford EMS has the certifications from the state to operate and does operate seven ambulances and three paramedic flycars, one being for the paramedic supervisors (paid and volunteer). The supervisor vehicle can also be used by regular paramedics if needed.

    One of the ambulances is 17 years old and the costs to keep that vehicle on the road are just going up. When Stratford EMS takes delivery of a new ambulance, it can not immediately go on the road. It has to be stocked with the equipment required by the State for it to operate. It has to go to DMV to be registered and an inspector (the only one the State has) from the Office of Emergency Medical Services (OEMS) has to come out to inspect the vehicle. That is the minimum for a new truck to go on the road. The most recent vehicle they took delivery of, a Sprinter van, had a some items were new to the service and staff members needed to be trained on those items. It was also a new type of chassis for them so drivers needed to get familiar with the vehicle and its handling. All of these things take time, especially when you have a diverse group of paid and volunteer staff.

    As to staffing, they staff a minimum of 3 ambulances during the “day”. 2 from 6a-6p and 1 from 7a-7p. The evening is covered with minimum of 2 ambulances from 6p-12a. The overnight from 12a-6a is covered by at least 1 ambulance with many nights having 2. Many times during the day, the full time supervisors have to put their administrative duties aside and respond to calls staffing an additional ambulance and if other personnel are passing through, possibly 2 additional ambulances. Many times during the day, 5 ambulances are out on calls, so I think he needs a reality check in regards to staffing. You may ask, “why do you need seven ambulances if you don’t staff that many all the time?” Why? Because they are rotated. With the call volume Stratford EMS sees, if you ran every truck all day every day, they would be dead, completely dead, in a year. It’s not an uncommon practice in EMS services to have this sort of rotation. The commercial services have more ambulances than they staff on a day to day basis. Stamford EMS has spare trucks, Greenwich EMS has spare trucks.

    The rest of the Town Council needs to stop looking at Harden as a reliable source of information when it comes to EMS. He worked there when the administration was reluctant to staff a 3rd ambulance during the day when call volume showed it was necessary. He was part of that team of leadership as a Lieutenant. The same leadership team that let calls roll to mutual aid when they had staff and ambulances available because those ambulances were going to the town fireworks.

    Speaking of mutual aid, Councilman Harden mentions that AMR and Nelson Ambulance can be there if the Stratford EMS vehicles break down. That is true. There is a coordination at a regional level to share resources as needed. Stratford EMS fairly regularly responds out of town to Shelton and Trumbull and occasionally Bridgeport and Milford, just as those other towns help out Stratford when needed. Here’s the catch. If Stratford EMS transports you, as a town resident, to the hospital and you can’t pay the bill, STRATFORD EMS WRITES IT OFF. If AMR or Nelson transports you to the hospital, THEY WILL BILL YOU INTO COLLECTIONS AND TAKE YOUR HOUSE.

    Certain council members what to makes these cuts because EMS is tapping into the reserves in its enterprise fund. That is only happening because the town takes $400,000/year from the EMS budget for “Town Hall services”.

    Maybe EMS should cut back on the other areas it helps the town with. All those AEDs in the town buildings and schools? EMS pays for those. When the schools need an ambulance on standby so they can have a football game? They cover that with volunteers at no charge to the BOE. Actually, all the standby coverage EMS does for road races, town events like the fireworks, and when they do education and ambulance tours at places like the YMCA, all done with volunteers at no charge to anyone.

  3. At the last council meeting I heard Mr. Harden say that if there was a catastrophic issue with the old ambulance, EMS could just call AMR or Nelson.

    I don’t know, I just found this so incompetent at best and extremely callous that a counselor either has no clue that the patient in the ambulance would then have to wait with their emergency for one of these other ambulances to come out. Either he has no clue how EMS works, or he doesn’t truly care about the public.

    If call volume is going up, the vehicles better be in good working order so that they don’t fail on us. If that means that some need to be replaced, then some need to be replaced. Thats what we hire directors to figure out. I am not saying we give the directors a blank check but, I did my homework and found no reason to doubt what the director and EMS team is reporting. Why did we hire a professional director who has a proven track record and the right experience and then allow people with questionable motives, limited experience and bad information to try to micromanage his ability to run the EMS?

    I attended their open house in May and I saw their vehicle rotation system which Mr. Harden said they don’t do. I saw the 7 ambulances (not 12). I also saw one that was very old (17 years). I spoke to the EMS Administrator who advised that the state provided them a seventh license to operate the 7 ambulances because they too felt that their call volume required the 7 ambulances be available to the public. Where is Mr. Harden getting his information I wonder?

    In reviewing the EMS Funding ordinance, (http://ecode360.com/9048954) it is pretty clear that if AMR or Nelson come in to provide what is called mutual aid, not only will that revenue go to that service but as a tax payer, we can petition the EMS Fund to pay our entire bill from the Enterprise Fund even though our ambulance did not provide the service. This is like a double blow to the fund. I called EMS Administration and that was their understanding as well.

    So our EMS service SHOULD be doing everything they can to reduce mutual aid. It seems that this is exactly what they have been trying to do and doing well.

    At the open house I also had a long talk with the Director who showed me all of the data they post at their headquarters and also on their website. I asked about volunteer hours and what I found out, is that while the volunteers are very active and EMS does a lot for recruitment and retention, the volunteers are not able to work during certain times of need. They are typically not available during the day because they work, and they are not available during the overnight hours because they need to be back at work in the morning. Unfortunately, these are the times when most calls are passed to mutual aid. With call volume increasing, the only option is to add paid staff to cover those time frames so that they can further reduce the number of calls being passed to outside services. Mr. Forrester recently posted on social media that medicare and medicaid payments are down and EMS payroll is going up. If volunteers cant cover certain timeframes and the administration has to cover that with paid staff, then there is your answer.

    Mr. Harden mentioned that there are 8 underutilized volunteer supervisors. Yet I saw and spoke to many of them who explained what they do and as I understand it, most of them do a lot. Some choose not to get involved or to create controversy as they have for over 20 years.

    I think we have put our EMS Service on the right course over the last 8 years, but need to continue to support those actually doing the day to day work. I asked very tough questions of the director and he was polite, professional and direct about his answers. He was also willing to show proof. He made it simple, relatable and understandable. Im not sure what others are having such a difficult time understanding.

    He also showed me the information that was already provided to the Town Council which frankly answered a lot of Mr. Hardens questions so clearly, he is simply not accepting the answers. Why? is the real question. I had no reason to not believe the director – he made his points clear with no alternative motive. I did however find these which have me questioning the intent of Mr. Harden’s direction:

    http://www.ctpost.com/local/article/Internal-changes-afoot-at-Stratford-EMS-2209439.php

    https://stratfordcharter.wordpress.com/2011/09/26/this-cant-be-good/

    Mr. Forrester has since rebutted as if these are somehow irrelevant. I don’t see how ANYONE who knows the slightest bit about Stratford politics, can’t see what is going on here. Just more of the same personal attacks and vendettas. Frankly, the tax payers I have spoken with are simply tired of the nonsense related to EMS. They are finally doing well, they don’t cost me anything, they do a great job, why are we not focussing on our bigger issues in Town?

    Now Mr. Forrester posted that he has been appointed to a Finance Advisory Committee and of course, he had already requested the last 3 years of financials from EMS. interesting he doesn’t mention any other departments. 1. Why do we need this committee? Are we saying the finance director is incapable of doing her job or innefective? (my tax dollars do pay for that). No one is asking why that department has more staff but needs help from Mr. Forrester who has always had an issue with the finance director? What a waste of time and resources. Mr. Forrester is a volunteer supervisor but his attitude toward his fellow members the other night at the council meeting certainly shows he does NOT support EMS.

    So we have Mr. Forrester and Councilmen Harden “going after” EMS. Pretty easy to see that. Wonder how hard they will work on the real issues here in town.

    We waste so much time and energy on personal vendettas and attacks and not enough time addressing the real needs of the tax payer. Embarrassing.

    Gilley

  4. Harden should be removed from the EMS Funding Committee due to his past history and obviously biased agenda. Mr Forrester, as a volunteer supervisor at Stratford EMS, should for ethical reasons, recuse himself from any review of the EMS budget. It sounds like a clear conflict of interest to me. Or he could step down as a supervisor, that would work as well.

    Another thing to look at. Harden has cancelled that last 2 EMS Funding meetings. The first claimed that there was nothing on the agenda, which from what I hear, there was. The next had no reason. Perhaps it has to do with him trying to sabotage EMS? Maybe he is afraid to be called to the carpet for not bringing things up for vote at the council meetings that the Committee voted on and approved to be brought to council.

  5. 5 Amphitrite

    It would appear that councilman Harden is operating in a world serving only himself. He is the first council person to create a separate Facebook page solely to flaunt his title. He, as evidenced here is not a team player with the EMS or the welfare of his constituents. I don’t know what goes on behind the scene but it does not look like he plays particularly well with his own party. It will be interesting to see what, if any support he gets for the 2nd term elections.

  6. 6 Amphitrite

    As for the BOE, at least several of those questions have since been answered. Epic fail. Again. Or should I say, as usual?

  7. Wait. Lemme see if I have this right. The Council illegally appropriates $53,000 of our sewer fees to stuff in a Christmas card to the VNA. The same council that wanted to take more money out of the EMS fund. But the Council can find $64,000 of our tax money to fund a temporary ice rink.

    Do I have these facts right?


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