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Commissioners approve new ambulances

WINTON – A Kernersville (NC) firm has earned the bid to supply Hertford County with two new ambulances.

Following a debate between the Hertford County Commissioners here Monday morning, a motion was passed to spend nearly $150,000 on the new additions to the county’s department of Emergency Services.

The discussion centered around whether or not one new ambulance would fill the needs of the county’s EMS or if an additional purchase was required. In lieu of a county-owned ambulance suffering substantial damage during an accident on Monday near Elizabeth City, the Commissioners took a hard look at making a dual purchase.

The bid, offered by Triad Fire, Inc. of Kernersville, covered one Medtec Model FD-160 Type III ambulance conversion on a Ford E-450 at a cost of $88,700 and a Medtec Model FD Type II conversion on a Ford E-350 van for $59,700.

&uot;The type III ambulance was budgeted for the current fiscal year, but the funds were not set aside for the type II ambulance,&uot; stated County Manager Don Craft. &uot;However, the money is available through the EMS budget to purchase the second ambulance.&uot;

After being told that the funds for the second ambulance would have a minor impact on the county’s fund balance, Commissioner DuPont Davis asked if would hurt to wait on making the additional purchase.

&uot;Sure, we can wait,&uot; answered Craft, &uot;but that second ambulance needs to be replaced sooner or later. We will not back ourselves in a financial corner by purchasing both.&uot;

One of the reasons that the additional purchase is affordable to the county is due to the fact that the EMS service does turn a profit through its medical transport service.

&uot;In addition, Charles (Jones, the county’s director of Emergency Services) is using the debt set-off program in an effort to recoup the money due his department from old accounts,&uot; stated Robbin Stephenson, the county’s Finance Director.

The debt set-off program is one used by the county, with the assistance of the North Carolina Department of Revenue, to recoup back taxes by deducting the amount owed from an individual’s state income tax return.

&uot;If we only approve one ambulance, will that not reduce the amount of money received by our EMS through their medical transport service,&uot; quizzed Commissioner Vernice Howard.

Craft answered, &uot;yes.&uot;

Commissioner Brenda Greene said she was concerned for the safety of the county’s citizens.

&uot;We need to make sure we have the vehicles and the equipment to meet their medical needs,&uot; she offered.

Johnnie Ray Farmer, Chairman of the Commissioners, recommended that the county purchase both ambulances, a suggestion Howard turned into a motion that gained unanimous approval.

Both new ambulances will be purchased through a standard lease program.

In other business conducted by the Commissioners during Monday’s meeting:

* Approved the county’s biennial Department of Social Services Work First Plan as presented by DSS Director Jo Ann Hall.

* Acting upon a recommendation made by county Tax Assessor Judith H. Vinson, approved a contract in the amount of $10,900 to Pearson Appraisal Services to handle the appraisal process of new construction within the county. That work will begin on Jan. 31, 2005 and is expected to end on April 15, 2005.

* Accepted a $2,000 bid from Wesley Hoggard for the purchase of county-owned property located at the intersection of Mitchell and Murphy streets in Winton.

* Approved a contract with A.C. Schultes of Carolina, Inc. for the construction of a new well for Hertford County’s Northern Rural Water District. It was noted during the discussion over the contract that, with the exception of $48,000 in matching funds from the county, the new well would be put in place with grant money. The county’s $48,000 share was generated through water district user fees and not by tax dollars.