Officials Delay Ambulance Decision
Posted: July 10, 2012 at 9:13 p.m.
BENTONVILLE Expressing a desire to “get this thing moving,” Benton County’s justices of the peace discussed ways to jump-start the debate over rural ambulance service but eventually agreed to wait for more information.
Justice of the Peace Kevin Harrison moved during Tuesday’s Committee of 13 meeting to seek proposals from private ambulance providers in advance of planned meetings to discuss ambulance service options in the county. A meeting of the Intergovernmental Council is set for 10 a.m. Monday with the Public Safety meeting scheduled for 6 p.m. Monday.
Harrison suggested waiting on those meetings and then holding more meetings wasn’t producing a resolution to the problem, which has been a topic of discussion for years.
“We kind of keep procrastinating,” Harrison said.
Harrison said other Arkansas counties have ambulance service agreements with private providers so there are models to follow, and companies should be able to talk with the county about ambulance service here. He said it’s important something be done to find some solution to the problem.
“We don’t need to go to the end of the year without having this problem solved,” Harrison said.
Officials began working on ambulance service in unincorporated areas of the county in 2009 after Bentonville representatives raised the issue and said they couldn’t continue providing service in the county without being reimbursed. Bentonville is one of several entities providing ambulance service to the county’s unincorporated areas.
Bentonville has asked for $400 for each ambulance run into the county resulting in a patient being transported. No formal agreement has been reached with Bentonville or any other ambulance service providers.
Justice of the Peace Tom Allen said he agreed the county should be talking to companies about ambulance service, even if it’s too early to ask for proposals.
“It may be premature to go forward with asking for proposals, however we’ve got to get the ball rolling,” Allen said. “It’s time to get a dialogue started.”
Most of the justices said they were willing to wait until after Monday’s meetings.
“We really can’t do anything until after Monday’s meetings,” said Justice of the Peace Shirley Sandlin. “We’ve got to wait and hear what they’ve got to say.”
Justice of the Peace Joel Jones said the information he expects from Monday’s meetings is needed. He said the study offers several options and the Quorum Court should be able to narrow the range of options they want to explore further.
“We need to give them more direction,” Jones said. “We need to be able to tell them ‘Let’s go look at these.’”
Harrison eventually withdrew his motion.
The justices of the peace agreed to send on to Quorum Court a request from County Judge Bob Clinard for an engineering study on replacing an air-conditioning unit in the County Administration Building. Clinard said he had information the county could buy a replacement unit through a federal/state purchasing program for about $202,000.
Putting the project out for bids could bring the project in at a lower price, Clinard said, citing one estimate of about $160,000.
Clinard told the justices of the peace the unit, which is 17 years old, has broken three times in the past two months and will probably do so again.
“It’s reached the end of it’s useful life,” he said.
Any replacement plan will take two to three months, and putting the project out for bids could increase that time, Clinard said.
“There’s not one of these on the shelf anywhere,” he said.
The committee also agreed to forward the re-appointment of Jerry Sheridan to the 911 Administration Board and Mark Curtis and Starr Leyva to the Planning Board on to the full Quorum Court.
At A Glance
Benton County’s Committee of 13 recommended the Quorum Court approve seven ordinances reorganizing the county’s pay structure, the classification of some positions and changes in personnel for several county departments. Justice of the Peace Tom Allen said, if approved, the changes will cost the county $42,600 for the remainder of 2012 and about $83,000 in 2013.
Source: Staff Report