Board of supervisors should be thorough in decision to end contract with city

Published 9:49 am Tuesday, August 23, 2016


On Monday morning, Warren County’s Board of Supervisors seemed perilously close to inking a deal with a private ambulance service — ASAP EMS — out of Laurel.

The move would have ended an agreement with the city of Vicksburg for ambulance service and put it in the hands of a private company.

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However, after a special meeting Monday morning called specifically to discuss a contract with that company, supervisors seemed to back off some from that move and agreed to talk with city officials to try to hammer out a deal.

The county has contracted with the city for ambulance service for a long time. It seems the dispute arose recently when the city sought a pretty hefty increase in what the county pays for ambulance service.

The city loses money on providing ambulance service. It’s projected to lose a reported $1 million in the next fiscal year, even with an increase to the county.

Richard George, president of the county supervisors, Supervisor John Arnold and County Administrator John Smith met Monday afternoon with City Alderman Mike Mayfield and city attorney Nancy Thomas. Mayor George Flaggs Jr. and Alderman Willis Thompson were out of town. The meeting was an effort to find a way to continue to work together.

The county was expected to meet informally Tuesday morning, and said they will decide the issue at a special-called meeting on Monday, Aug. 29, at 9 a.m.

We’re not sure which way this issue will be resolved, but we have concerns about how a move toward a private ambulance service came about.

Arnold said in an article in Sunday’s edition of The Vicksburg Post, that he and others have “researched” the private ambulance service issue.

But we — and many others in the community — have plenty of questions.

Were other private ambulance services considered other than ASAP EMS? If so, which ones and when?

What additional costs would county residents who need ambulance service bear with ASAP EMS versus with the city?

Have the supervisors investigated the average response times and financial stability of ASAP EMS or any other private ambulance service? One municipality in Lamar County apparently ended its contract with ASAP EMS over a dispute on response times.

Last week, an auditor reported the county’s finances to be in excellent condition, operating with a cash reserve that is four or more times its needs. Why, then, is the county in such a hurry to make this move without what appears to be transparent and thorough consideration of private ambulance services?

We think the residents of Warren County deserve answers to those questions, deserve to know what more a move to private ambulance service will cost them should they need an ambulance, before its elected supervisors make that drastic move.