LUMBERTON —The Robeson County Board of Commissioners on Monday approved a two-year contract with MED1 to provide non-emergency convalescent ambulance services for county residents.
The only other company offering a proposal for providing convalescent ambulance services for Robeson County was American Medical Response, a national company that has held an exclusive contract with the county for 13 years.
According to Ricky Harris, Robeson County’s interim manager, MED1 has been providing ambulance transport services since April 1993. The company has only operated in this region, out of Hoke County, for about a year. The company is currently partnering with communities in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina, according to the company’s web page.
Harris said this morning that the county and MED1 have not yet negotiated what the franchise fee will be. In the past, AMR was charged a franchise fee of less than $10,000.
Harris said the new franchise fee will probably be between $50,000 and $70,000. The increase, he said, will be due to the cost of county employees involved in monitoring the company’s financial administration and safety procedures.
It took several motions before the board finally agreed 7 to 1 to give the contract to MED1. Board Chairman Noah Woods voted against switching to MED1.
“The company (American Medical Response) has done a good job all these years,” Woods said. “If they are doing a good job, I’m willing to keep them … . I don’t buy a pig in a poke.”
Commissioner Hubert Sealey made a motion to approve American Medical Response for a three-year contract, but the motion did not get a second.
Commissioner Raymond Cummings then offered a motion for MED1 to get a three-year contract, with Commissioner David Edge offering a substitute motion that MED1 be given a one-year contract for a trial period.
After a 30-day notice period, the contract becomes effective in early July.
In other business, Edge won his effort to hire Shelton Hill, who is already employed by the county, as a “compliance, safety, loss prevention and risk management officer.” Hill currently works with the South East Area Transit System. Edge asked that the board members add the new position to the proposed budget for fiscal year 2012-13.
Edge said he believes that Hill could save the county as much as $500,000 a year, with part of his responsibilities being to get county employees collecting workman’s compensation back to work.
“I will personally pay his salary if he can’t many times over save the county what he is paid,” Edge said.
Edge’s motion passed with Commissioners Woods, Cummings and Roger Oxendine casting opposing votes.
The commissioners on Monday also:
— Heard a presentation from Robert Bush, transit principal with HDR Engineering Inc., concerning a five-year plan for the South East Area Transit System.
— Approved an agreement between the Red Springs and the county that allows the county to collect taxes for Red Springs over a five-year period instead of a two-year period.
— Agreed to a proposal incorporating the town of Red Springs’ emergency dispatching system into Robeson County’s countywide communications system.
— Renewed the current cooperative service agreement between the county and the U.S. Department of Agriculture/Wildlife Services.
— Appointed Commissioners Sealey, Cummings and Tom Taylor as commissioner representatives, as well as Leon Maynor of Lumberton and Sandra Cain of St. Pauls as municipal government representatives, to the county’s Transportation Advisory Committee
— Approved conditional-use permits for the establishment of a solar farm on U.S. 301 in Maxton; creation of an educational open amphitheater arts park in Shannon; and operation of a day support facility in Saddletree.
— Reach staff writer Bob Shiles at 910-272-6117 or firstname.lastname@example.org.