Ambulance Subsidy Removed

 

As the franchise agreement for ambulance service continues to move through county committees, discussion continues about the decision.

“I’m still not seeing how we’re going to gain by paying $300,000 a year,” Commissioner Roger Donaldson said during the finance, ways & means committee meeting Tuesday. “Are we spending our money wisely?”

He was referring to the $300,000 yearly subsidy asked for by Weakley County Ambulance Service.

Donaldson said West Tennessee Healthcare “made a huge investment in the county already” by buying Volunteer Hospital in Martin. WTH has a fleet of 50 ambulances in the West Tennessee area, and is asking for no subsidy from the county. Over five years, he said, the county could save $1.5 million by using WTH.

Committee Member David Hawks agreed, saying he preferred WTH for two reasons: because it wouldn’t require a subsidy, and because of its tie-in to the local hospital.

“I think it’s silly,” he said of the public safety committee’s choice to go with Weakley County Ambulance Service.

Earl Wright said Benton County was currently paying WTH $500,000 a year, but Hawks said it was his understanding that the Benton County subsidy was being phased out.

Committee Chair Eric Owens reminded the committee that the decision would be referred to the full commission regardless of any decision made by finance, ways & means.

On a roll-call vote, only Wright, Jimmy Westbrook and Tommy Jones voted in favor of the resolution to use WCAS, while Owens, Larry Taylor, Hawks, Donaldson, Dennis Doster and Rick Usery voted against it.

Owens then moved to reconsider the issue, a motion which by Robert’s Rules of Order is generally undebatable. The committee voted to reconsider, and then Owens asked for a motion to revise the franchise award to remove the $300,000 subsidy while keeping the award to WCAS. In another roll call vote, the committee voted to do so, with the votes breaking down the same way: Wright, Westbrook and Jones voted against the motion, while the others voted in favor of it.

The committee’s action is tentative until or unless it is approved by the full commission.

(Editor’s note: In a previous article Commissioner Larry Taylor was incorrectly identified as Larry Hudson. The Press regrets the error.)

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