By Max Hrenda
After months of on-again, off-again negotiations, Carter County and the Carter County Emergency and Rescue Squad may be on the verge of entering into a new service contract.
On Tuesday night, during a workshop of the county’s Budget Committee, County Commission Chairman Tom Bowers announced he and the squad had tentatively agreed on an exclusive four-year contract for emergency medical service in the county.
“It has been agreed on by the director of the squad and the board of directors to accept $170,000 for their services,” Bowers said. “I know we can’t vote on this tonight, but I wanted you all to be aware of it.”
Because Tuesday’s meeting was a specially called workshop, committee members could not vote on any policy.
The committee is expected to vote on the new proposal when it reconvenes Thursday evening.
“At our next meeting, when we can vote, I intend to make this in the form of a motion to approve,” Bowers said. “I know I’m just one vote, but I hope the Budget Committee will approve it and recommend it to the entire commission to approve.”
According to Rescue Squad Director Terry Arnold, if the proposal were to move on for approval by the full County Commission, that would be its final stop.
“We’ve already negotiated, worked everything out and we’re good to go,” Arnold said. “It has to go before the commission. I’m just glad that we all got it worked out.”
The squad’s previous offer asked for an up-front fee of $225,000 to cover ambulance service in the county, as well as the costs for other services such as search-and-rescue, HazMat cleanup and prisoner and corpse transport, for one year.
While this new deal would extend the arrangement with the squad by three years, after the meeting, Bowers confirmed that all of the aforementioned services would still be included.
“This represents a significant savings to the taxpayers … a savings of $55,000 per year,” Bowers wrote, in a press release. “It also ensures the people of Carter County will continue to receive, uninterrupted, the quality service they have grown accustomed to from the Carter County Rescue Squad.”