ENFIELD TOWN COUNCIL
MINUTES OF A SPECIAL MEETING
MONDAY, MARCH 1, 2004
A Special Meeting of the Enfield Town Council was called to order by Acting Chairman Lewis Fiore in the Enfield Room, Enfield Town Hall, 820 Enfield Street, Enfield, Connecticut on Monday, March 1, 2004 at 6:00 p.m.
ROLL-CALL - Present were Councilmen Dodd, Edgar, Egan, Fiore, Kaupin, Mangini, Peruta, Reveruzzi, and Tait. Chairman Tallarita entered at 6:03 p.m., and Councilman Crowley entered at 6:24 p.m. Also present were Town Manager, Scott Shanley; Assistant Town Manager, Daniel Vindigni; Town Clerk, Suzanne Olechnicki; Senior Assistant Town Attorney, Maria Stavropoulos; Director of Finance, Gregory Simmons; Director of Planning, Jose Giner; EMS Manager, Gary Wiemokly; Director of Public Works, John Kazmarski; Chairman of the Planning & Zoning Commission, Anthony DiPace
MOTION #7032 by Councilman Mangini, seconded by Councilman Tait to first address Item #3 on the agenda.
Upon a SHOW-OF-HANDS vote being taken, the Chair declared MOTION #7032 adopted 9-0-0.
WORK SESSION RE: AMBULANCE SERVICE BILLING DISCUSSION
Mr. Shanley explained part of the process of putting together an EMS plan was to put together the revenue side. He noted that was done. He stated the Town was represented at the Department of Health awhile ago and argued that in order for Enfield to move forward with EMS at an appropriate level and quality patient care, they would need some revenue. He noted they did receive a letter from the Commissioner of the Department of Health authorizing Enfield to begin billing for Basic Life Support (BLS).
Mr. Shanley stated there is a resolution on tonight's Regular Meeting agenda which has to do with waiving the Medicare co-pay. He noted Medicare recipients are responsible, legally, to pay the difference between what Medicare pays and what the bill is. He stated as a municipally operated service, the Town is able to waive the co-pay requirement because as a community each taxpayer is contributing to the support of the operation, therefore, that support is determined to supplant the need for the co-pay.
Mr. Wiemokly introduced Lisa Shelanskas, the Town's billing agent for the ambulance service for the Town. He stated Ms. Shelanskas' company has been involved with EMS and ambulance billing for 13 years, therefore, she is well-versed with this. Mr. Shanley pointed out they did go through a competitive bid process.
Mr. Wiemokly explained the State sets the ambulance rate the first year. He noted the rate for a basic ambulance charge is $331.00 and they're allowed to add on a night charge of $65. He added they can also add a per mile fee of $9.80, and the federal government establishes Point A to Point B, i.e., from Enfield to Johnson Memorial is a certain mileage.
He stated his plan is to begin charging Monday, April 5th. He noted this allows Ms. Shelanskas' company additional time to prepare for a smooth transition. He went on to state that for the month of March he proposes having three separate meetings - two during daylight hours at the senior center to capture a lot of the senior population since they will have the greatest concern regarding ambulance billing. He noted there will also be one evening session to accommodate people after work. He added there will be a mailer to each household to explain ambulance billing, as well as something in the newspapers.
Referring to the co-pay waiver, Mr. Wiemokly noted he suggested this over a year ago and he feels this is a nice gesture to Enfield's senior citizens. As concerns collection of the uninsured or the Medicaid patient, i.e., people who do not have health insurance or the income to pay, he suggests offering "pay as you can", even if it's $5.00 per month. He suggested in those cases, perhaps the Town could establish a small board, perhaps consisting of three people, who meet quarterly to discuss specific ambulance calls and address them on a case-by-case basis. He pointed out this process is done in other towns and offers a due process for individuals and would also eliminate any potential hard feelings by people. He went on to state his belief Enfield's demographics are good, therefore, he feels they will exceed the 60% collection rate.
Ms. Shelanskas stated probably 75% of elderly patients have supplemental insurance to cover the co-pay.
Councilman Tait stated if the Council votes to waive the co-pay and then the fire service takes over EMS, will they be putting citizens through some kind of turmoil because the fire service may not be allowed to waive the co-pay. Mr. Wiemokly stated that may indeed happen. He noted if the fire service is able to come together with a plan, there are many things that they're going to need to do. He explained they will have to apply for a need for service and apply for ambulance certificates. He stated the fire service would also have to acquire a billing agent, and depending on how their service is structured, they may or may not be able to waive the co-pay.
Councilman Tait questioned the wisdom of waiving a co-pay and later on having to rescind that.
Councilman Mangini referred to the resolution and requested clarification on the "federal waiver" and the "specific legal advice". Mr. Shanley stated this is because federal regulations allow for the waiver under certain specific circumstances. He went on to note there is a law firm that specializes in this kind of work, and they have asked them if the Town is allowed to waive the co-pay given Enfield's very specific set-up and very specific financing.
Councilman Mangini questioned if this only addresses the Basic Life Support, and Mr. Wiemokly responded that's correct. He noted if and when the Town chooses to be the Advanced Life Support (ALS) provider, they can continue to waive that co-pay. He added if the fire service is doing that, he does not know. He went on to note they could enter into what's known as a "bundled billing agreement". Ms. Shelanskas explained this is an option that Medicare allows to put these two bills together and in that case Medicare would pay the bill at their rates. She noted once Enfield becomes a charging service they can enter into a bundled billing agreement with other entities so that the patients will have one bill generated to Medicare that will be paid with a co-pay remaining, but at least they can get that bill paid where currently it isn't paid.
Councilman Mangini raised the idea of a sliding scale, and Mr. Shanley noted they can't have a sliding scale because the state sets the rate.
Councilman Edgar questioned whether there's any problem approving this without the legal opinion. Attorney Stavropoulos stated given what the Town Manager describes, she does not believe there would be any issue. Mr. Shanley pointed out that is why the language in the resolution is dependent upon the legal advice.
Councilman Edgar questioned what are the night hours, and Ms. Shelanskas responded 7:00 p.m. to 6:59 a.m.
Councilman Edgar stated there are a number of people in Town who are suddenly getting bills because AMR has been sold off. He added his belief the Town has an exposure regarding this and he feels this outstanding problem should be resolved. Mr. Wiemokly suggested people could write a letter saying they don't have the money to pay the bill. Mr. Shanley explained by federal regulation the ambulance company must bill for the difference. He noted Medicare requires that the billing take place for the difference. He stated now that the municipality will be doing the billing, they will avoid all of the gray area by waiving the co-pay.
Councilman Edgar questioned whether verbal agreements are binding in Connecticut, and Attorney Stavropoulos responded no.
Councilman Reveruzzi stated the public should be made aware that this is an interim plan and while the Town can waive the co-pay at this time, it's possible this may not be the case if the fire service takes over EMS and they're unable to waive the co-pay.
Chairman Tallarita stated if a mailer is going out to all residents, perhaps they can explain where they are with EMS and that this is an interim plan and as Councilman Reveruzzi pointed out, things could change.
Councilman Kaupin referred to the bundled billing agreement and questioned what needs to be done to initiate that process. Ms. Shelanskas explained this would be a very routine contract and they exist all over this area and are very easy to obtain. She noted the only thing they need to agree on is what will be the amount of the agreement.
Councilman Edgar questioned whether a list of the outstanding bills could be produced, and Mr. Wiemokly stated according to HIPA (a federal privacy act), that could not be done.
Councilman Peruta questioned whether the Council should mention to the fire service the idea of waiving the co-pay. Chairman Tallarita stated that was discussed with the fire service.
It was agreed this item will be raised at the upcoming Regular Meeting of the Town Council.
DISCUSSION/PLANNING RE: GRANDVIEW DRIVE
MOTION #7033 by Councilman Mangini, seconded by Councilman Tait to waive the reading of the resolution.
Upon a SHOW-OF-HANDS vote being taken, the Chair declared MOTION #7033 adopted 11-0-0.
RESOLUTION #7034 by Councilman Fiore, seconded by Councilman Kaupin.
Present for this discussion were Director of Planning, Jose Giner; Chairman of the Enfield Planning & Zoning Commission, Anthony DiPace; Engineer, John Cabibbo.
Chairman Tallarita explained this item has to do with the acceptance of the road. He noted at a previous meeting questions were raised on the road itself, therefore, the Town
Planner, Planning & Zoning Commissioner and the Town Engineer were invited to address those questions. He went on to note that beyond that there was an issue raised at a number of public meetings with regards to a complaint by a particular resident as concerns the way the property drains and the erosion occurring there. He stated the main concern of some Councilors had to do with the way the issue was being dealt with. He pointed out the Council does not make decisions based upon Planning & Zoning issues, i.e., the development of property, but rather concerns had to do with whether questions were being answered.
Councilman Edgar stated his contention is that the drainage problems on the lots also effect the road.
Councilman Edgar stated he read the Planning & Zoning minutes and noticed questions were asked of the Town Planner and Town Attorney. He questioned whether all those questions have been answered to the satisfaction of Mr. DiPace. Mr. DiPace responded not yet. He noted they requested a legal opinion which they did not receive and they also requested the Town Engineer go out and review the site to double check everything. He stated they did not get anything regarding that. He pointed out this would be in regards to the private lots. He went on to explain the 8-24 which P&Z approved is related strictly to public improvements, which are the roads, sidewalks, sewers, etc., and does not include private lots.
Chairman Tallarita questioned if P&Z's legal questions pertained to what the resolution is dealing with (the 8-24), and Mr. DiPace responded no.
Chairman Tallarita stated what the Council needs to act on is the acceptance of the road. He noted this was initially tabled based upon questions relating to the possibility of something happening outside the road that could effect the road.
Councilman Edgar questioned if the questions asked by P&Z of the Town Attorney and Town Planner will effect what the Council is doing tonight, and if so, how. He added this mainly relates to drainage. Mr. DiPace stated the only concern that came before P&Z regarding drainage should not effect this. He noted the only concern they had was on the north side where it drains away from the road. He stated he has now heard there's concern about drainage on the opposite side and that wasn't part of the 8-24. He went on to explain there was a ponding problem down the end of the cul-de-sac, which he believes was being addressed.
Councilman Edgar questioned if the bond relates strictly to the cul-de-sac drainage, and Mr. DiPace responded he believes so. Mr. Shanley stated the bond being held for the problem that may exist at the cul-de-sac is $45,000 because the contractor can't address it at this time of year. He explained P&Z holds onto that bond to insure that the problem that has been identified at the cul-de-sac can be addressed when the weather changes.
Mr. Giner stated if this resolution is accepted tonight, that bond will have to stay in place for a year, and after a year has passed, the Town will inspect it again to be sure everything is acceptable.
Mr. Shanley emphasized the bond relates to the road, and is not about the privately held properties.
Councilman Edgar referred to the south side of the road and noted they received certificates of occupancy and there was a further problem with drainage. He stated his understanding the contractor came back in and added further drains from the homes. He questioned how was that approved and for what reason. He noted this wasn't on the original plans. Mr. Giner stated he does not believe that was approved by P&Z. He added that was work on individual lots, and he does not believe they fall under P&Z jurisdiction under a subdivision and that's why it wasn't approved by P&Z.
Councilman Edgar stated those drains and all that extra water drains into the road, and his understanding is that because of those added drains, the basins in the road cannot take the overflow. He added there are one or two more houses still experiencing puddling. He pointed out when the water runs downhill, it runs to the road. He voiced concern that in the future the Town will have to repair the entire road. He pointed out Enfield is currently rebuilding roads at a very high cost.
Councilman Edgar stated 8 and 12 Grandview drain onto 10 Grandview Road and erosion has already started. He questioned what is looked at when certificates of occupancy are issued. Mr. DiPace stated the drainage issue never came to P&Z for approval. He noted he does not know whether those drains were approved or presented to staff. As concerns the draining of the lots, he noted two things were requested in December - one was a legal opinion regarding the topo. He noted he questioned if the topo that was approved is altered, does that mean the developer has to come before the Commission for a modification, and he was basically told what the answer is, but he hasn't received the actual legal opinion as yet. He noted the other item was to have Mr. Cabibbo go back and double check things because the reports came back saying everything was okay as far as the grades. He added he went out himself with a map and asked permission to walk on the property, and he did not see how they matched since they were off anywhere from six to ten feet. He stated this was the reason he requested they go back and take another look and report back to P&Z at the January 22nd meeting.
Councilman Edgar stated if the Chairman of Planning & Zoning has these kinds of concerns and it's obvious that the drainage will effect the road, he questioned why this road item is before the Council at this time. Mr. DiPace stated they heard there was a problem on the other side, but it had been fixed. He noted their other concern related to 10 Grandview Drive, but that property drains away from the road.
Councilman Edgar stated if this erosion problem isn't addressed now, it will cost a lot of money to remedy in the future.
Mr. Cabibbo referred to the yards on the south side and the original topo and explained the developer cut down a knoll so that knoll didn't come right down to the houses. He noted once that knoll was cut, they were getting some groundwater and experienced some erosion. He stated this was not an item that was bonded. As individual plot plans come before them, they look at those during the certificate of occupancy time and they don't expect that will match exactly. He noted they do expect they will drain away from the property. He stated they do allow hook-up for drainage for individual lots for groundwater issues.
Councilman Edgar noted there's still puddling in the backyards on the south side, and 10 Grandview on the north side is getting drainage from properties on each side.
Cathy Stevens of 7 Grandview Drive stated drains were put in on each side of her house and these drain into the catch basins. She noted they still have puddling, therefore, the drains aren't doing what they're supposed to do. She stated the water flows down each lot across all the driveways into the street and down to the bottom of the cul-de-sac. She showed the Council a picture to illustrate this water issue.
Chairman Tallarita asked Ms. Stevens if she submitted this to the P&Z, and Ms. Stevens responded yes, there is a stamped letter on file. Mr. Giner noted they are aware of that problem and they have a bond to correct that problem in the spring. Mr. Cabibbo stated the problem he's aware of is in the cul-de-sac.
Mr. Giner stated a couple issues were raised - one was at the edge of one driveway and that was corrected.
Ms. Stevens stated there are two different dated pictures before the Council - one of the pictures was taken in October and that was on a rainy day - the other picture was taken tonight and there has been no rain, but there is still a puddle in front of that driveway and it's not going anywhere. Mr. Cabibbo stated they were aware of one driveway and they requested the contractor take care of it, and apparently he did do something, but it's not effecting this particular driveway. He stated the reason they keep a maintenance bond is exactly for these issues.
Chairman Tallarita addressed the public and questioned if there are other concerns which would cause them to suspect the drains are not accepting the water properly on that street.
Gary LaVerle of 11 Grandview Drive shared a video with the Council which shows the water flowing behind the property. He noted this was taken in September of last year during a rainstorm. He stated he put cinderblocks on certain parts of his property so that the water would not get too close to his foundation. He pointed out the water flow is from eight to ten feet wide. He noted the water flows down his driveway and the previous winter he had 100 feet of ice going up his driveway. He stated he actually fell and broke a rib on his driveway. He noted all of this water ends up in the road and down to the cul-de-sac.
Councilman Crowley questioned if the catch basins are overflowing, and Mr. LaVerle stated the water flows so fast that it jumps over the catch basin.
Karen Camidge of 10 Grandview Drive stated the Town has been well-notified of the problems on Grandview Drive. She stated one item requested was that residents be notified when the road was coming up for approval and when the bond was released, however, residents were never notified.
Mr. Cabibbo stated he and Mr. Giner met with several people on their properties.
Councilman Dodd questioned if the Council does not act on this approval, will this bring pressure to any other agency, person(s), or corporations to get these problems resolved. Mr. Giner stated he couldn't answer that.
Chairman Tallarita asked Mr. DiPace if he understood the information with regards to the road and the way water is draining into the road and the freezing situation, etc., prior to P&Z sending this to the Town Council for approval. Mr. DiPace responded no. He stated the pictures were received in October, however, he had a death in the family and did not attend that meeting. He stated he has never been out to see the south side and witness how this water flows. He noted he did visit the north side and was quite upset with what he saw and how it was handled. He stated they requested this be re-looked at, and unfortunately they did not get anything they needed.
Chairman Tallarita stated the Town Council acts upon the recommendation of the Planning & Zoning Commission. He stated there seems to be enough questions to warrant P&Z taking another look at this. Mr. DiPace stated they will need answers to their questions.
Chairman Tallarita stated he does not know what the Town has jurisdiction over with respect to particular resident lot problems. He stated he is more concerned with making sure people get answers to their questions.
Mr. Shanley stated because of the problems at Grandview Drive, Planning & Zoning has asked staff to explore what it would take to change their regulations so that they would start having the government decide the topography of people's yards before a certificate of occupancy is issued. He noted the cost of that is significant and the implications of that are significant because that means people can't move in until everything is as it should be. He stated P&Z is asking that the Town get this involved, while this community has not historically been that involved.
Mr. DiPace stated this would mean bonding individual lots so that if the developer does not do what the Town approves, they recall the bond and correct it.
Mr. Shanley stated it appears the road acceptance will go back to Planning & Zoning so that they can revisit the information and reconsider this item.
Ms. Stevens questioned if issues of drainage should be addressed prior to construction. Chairman Tallarita stated this question is so noted, and an answer can be provided.
Upon a ROLL-CALL vote being taken, the Chair declared RESOLUTION #7034 defeated 0-11-0.
MOTION #7035 by Councilman Fiore, seconded by Councilman Kaupin to go into Executive Session to discuss Personnel Matters, Pending Litigation and Real Estate Negotiations.
Upon a SHOW-OF-HANDS vote being taken, the Chair declared MOTION #7035 adopted 11-0-0, and the meeting stood recessed at 7:25 p.m.
The Executive Session of the Enfield Town Council was called to order by Chairman Tallarita at 7:26 p.m.
ROLL-CALL - Present were Councilmen Crowley, Dodd, Edgar, Egan, Fiore, Kaupin, Mangini, Peruta, Reveruzzi, Tait and Tallarita. Also present were Town Manager, Scott Shanley; Assistant Town Manager, Daniel Vindigni; Town Clerk, Suzanne Olechnicki; Senior Assistant Town Attorney, Maria Stavropoulos; Assistant Town Attorney, Mark Cerrato
Personnel Matters, Pending Litigation and Real Estate Negotiations were discussed with no action or votes being taken.
Chairman Tallarita adjourned the Executive Session at 7:34 p.m. He reconvened the Special Meeting at 7:35 p.m. and stated during Executive Session they discussed Personnel Matters, Pending Litigation and Real Estate Negotiations with no action or votes being taken.
MOTION #7036 by Councilman Kaupin, seconded by Councilman Mangini to adjourn.
Upon a SHOW-OF-HANDS vote being taken, the Chair declared MOTION #7036 adopted 11-0-0, and the meeting stood adjourned at 7:36 p.m.