By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(June 28, 2018) One day after the Town Council passed an $18.18 million fiscal year 2019 budget, Berlin Mayor Gee Williams elaborated on the fire and EMS portion he said was contingent on signing a contract for services.
Williams, during an interview Tuesday, said officials from the town and Berlin Fire Company have made headway on an agreement to free up the $605,000 earmarked for fire and EMS, meeting on that subject for the first time about a week ago.
“We identified a number of areas where our interests overlapped and we found that there was a need for additional funding for EMS services for fiscal 2019 that starts on July 1,” Williams said. “That was agreed upon and we said we would find a way to get that accomplished so that they would no incur any deficit in their operational expenses.
“We still have a number of things that we need to go over, but I think all of them can be accomplished,” he continued. “I thought it was a very good meeting very much dealing with the meat of the issues, and I think we made a good foundation and established a number of common goals that we can use to go forward.”
That would not happen overnight, Williams said, but he was hopeful something gets done later this summer or early into the fall. The approved funding was about $200,000 more than originally budgeted.
“That’s a substantial amount, but it’s something that we want to do to make sure that everyone knows the services being provided for EMS and fire are being covered by the town and it’s not causing any undue financial stress,” he said. “We still have a number of issues to work out, and I’m optimistic that we will in terms of monthly and quarterly financial reporting of how the funding is used by the fire company, and we have an additional series of discussions related to capital expenditures.”
Williams said the fire company is in the process of establishing two separate corporations – one for firefighting and rescue, and another strictly for EMS operations.
“That immediately eliminates any possibility of comingling of funds,” he said. “I think there’s a lot of information that’s available to establish operational cost and need, but capital expenses are more subjective and I think that’s going to be our next area of discussion.
“I’m hopeful this will happen over the summer and by early fall I hope that we’ve gotten a lot more underway,” Williams continued. “But I was very encouraged. It was a very frank discussion, but definitely very civil and very much where all parties are trying to make this work.”