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Bertie Franchise Ordinance is official

WINDSOR – It’s official.

With little fanfare, Bertie’s Board of Commissioners unanimously passed an ordinance here Monday night that will govern the granting of franchises for Emergency Medical Services and ambulance transportation services operating within the county.

The ordinance, scheduled to take effect on Sept. 1, basically regulates all aspects of profit and non-profit volunteer rescue squads and non-emergency medical transport units. Once implemented, the ordinance will bring Bertie County into full compliance with the state’s requirements of regulating such entities.

A newly revised draft of the Bertie ordinance addressed a concern expressed by medical transport personnel at an earlier meeting. The original draft called for a licensed EMT to serve as the driver of a non-emergency medical transport vehicle. The revised draft changed that to a non-certified EMT as long as there was at least one certified EMT onboard.

The ordinance also requires those seeking a franchise to reveal a business finance statement, show they carry at least $1 million in liability insurance, $100,000 in property damage insurance and have worker’s compensation insurance.

Lloyd Smith, attorney to the Bertie Board of Commissioners, advised the county’s elected leaders they have the final say in all matters dealing with the franchise ordinance.

&uot;You have the power to limit the number of franchises permitted to operate in the county,&uot; Smith said. &uot;The language of the ordinance also allows you to reserve the right to accept or reject the transfer of any franchise.&uot;

The only major discussion came on the make-up of the Emergency Medical Service Advisory Council, a group responsible for advising the county’s Emergency Management Coordinator (EMC) on matters relating to the enforcement of the ordinance.

The Commissioners agreed, through the passage of a motion, to change one portion of that Council – naming two individuals, appointed by the Board, to serve. The original draft called for two Bertie County citizens.

The remaining Council membership will include a representative of the Bertie County Rescue Association, the administrator of Bertie Memorial Hospital (or his designee), one Commissioner, the county’s EMC and the county Medical Director. With the exception of the EMC and the Rescue Association representative, all Council members will have full and equal voting rights.

There is still no decision on the franchise application fee, although this newspaper reported in an article last month that the fee was set at $200. The fee has yet to be set and the $200 was only a recommendation.

Bertie County Manager Zee Lamb said, once appointed, the Advisory Council will come-up with a fee and pass that recommendation along to the Commissioners for their approval. Lamb said a fee might be set as early as June or July.

Lamb added that the franchise applications have been developed and must be reviewed by the Advisory Council.