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Northampton says ‘no’ to expansion

JACKSON – There will be no more medical transport franchise agreements in Northampton County in the near future.

Last week the Northampton County Commissioners told Emergency Management Coordinator Ronald Storey they did not want to proceed with a pair of requests to operate non-emergency transport services in the county.

Storey appeared before the Board to report on the standing of non-emergency transport in the county after commissioners had asked him in earlier meetings for a report on the number of requests for franchise agreements.

At the present time, Northampton County is served by two non-emergency transport service with the primary one being Bertie Ambulance Service (DBA Eastern Medical Transport) and the other being Roanoke Valley Rescue Squad.

As of September 1, Northampton County Emergency Medical Services started a third crew which will also conduct non-emergency transport in the county.

Storey said with those three agencies, he didn’t see a need to add another franchise agreement, but would leave that decision to the Board.

&uot;Right now transport is being handled in a timely and courteous manner,&uot; Storey said.

Commissioner Robert Carter asked County Manager Wayne Jenkins for his input on the situation.

Jenkins said he had been county manager for five years and had fielded calls on every issue that did not meet the satisfaction of the citizens, but had received no calls about non-emergency transport.

&uot;Bottom line, do we need to pursue this issue,&uot; Carter asked.

Jenkins said he could see no reason to pursue it, adding that it would take money out of the county’s pocket when they had just invested dollars into forming a crew themselves.

Commissioner James Boone made a motion to continue with the process and allow public hearings. Commissioner Fannie Greene seconded the motion.

Chairwoman Virginia Spruill clarified that Boone was asking to open up the process and continue to which Greene said she misunderstood the motion and withdrew her second.

The motion remained on the floor because under rules adopted by the Northampton County Commissioners, a second is not required.

Boone said he wanted to open the process because he felt like it was closed too many times.

&uot;I don’t want us to continue to exhibit bias and selection in the utilization of public funds,&uot; he said. &uot;I don’t think we ought to restrict these because we don’t see the need for additional transport.&uot;

The commissioner said he believed competition would be a good thing and that other companies could provide service as well as those already franchised.

The board voted 4-1 against Boone’s motion and informed Storey it was their desire not to proceed with any franchise agreements.

In other business, the board:

* increased Tax Administrator Cathy Allen’s salary from $50,686 per year to $55,947 per year;

* heard a report from Diana Weber on Medicare Part D;

* approved vehicle financing for the new ambulance; and

* decided to make a counteroffer to a citizen seeking to purchase property on Bolton Road.