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Mitchell County to privatize ambulance service

Measure is meant to save money and help right the county's financial ship

CAMILLA, Ga. — The Mitchell County Commission has voted to privatize the county’s ambulance service, a move that could save the taxpayers more than $400,000 a year, county officials say.

Macon-based Mid-Georgia EMS will take over operations May 1, officials say.

Interim County Administrator Jerry Permenter said that the move provides a glimmer of optimism in an otherwise bleak financial picture.

“By my estimation, had we privatized the EMS services last year, we could have saved $473,000 with the savings primarily coming from the reduction in personnel costs,” Permenter said. “I’d like to say that this type of situation is the end of it, but, quite honestly, as we work down through the issues here, all of the options are staying on the table.”

Permenter said that he met with the EMS staff Wednesday morning to update them on the situation. Mid-Georgia EMS also began conducting interviews and began the application process.

“Right now it looks like they’ve got enough full-time positions for all but six of our people,” Permenter said. “Those other people will be offered positions within the company but, at this point, they’ll only be part time.”

EMS Director Ann Lamb will be re-hired, he said.

But not everyone is happy about the deal. A group formed on Facebook asking that EMS not be privatized was critical of the move.

“Sorry make that 3 outstanding medics gone. One being a supervisor. This is insane. The commissioners have completely forgotten about the people they represent,” one post said.

Pelham resident Stuart Glenn called the move by the commission “underhanded.”

“I’m upset with how the County Commission has handled this whole thing. Citizens should have been able to have a voice in this. We will when election time comes,” he posted.

Like other local governments across the state, Mitchell County finds itself stuck between a state government that has hindered the ability for county governments to generate revenues by freezing tax assessments, increasing exemptions and altering tax laws, and the county residents who depend on — and expect — county services at certain levels while not tolerating a property tax increase.

“You really find yourself in a crunch situation,” Permenter said. “Not only have our tax rates not increased, our assessments have been frozen so our options for generating revenues are slim. And at the same time, we’ve had inflation and personnel costs go up.”

Mitchell County is also suffering from a bit of a debt crisis. Currently 15 percent of the county’s operating expenses go directly to servicing debt, which takes a chunk of the available revenues needed to fund county services.

“We’re looking at cutting the big-ticket items now in hopes of getting some better financial results,” Permenter said.

Comments

sglenn63 2 years, 4 months ago

Mitchell County EMS workers should be automatically given the jobs that the private company is going to have in Mitchell Co. This whole thing is ridiculous.

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Yowsa51 2 years, 4 months ago

Sorry, sglenn, but the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. As long as the county's citizenry expects caps on property values and limited taxation, issues such as EMS privatization must be addressed. Now, the manner in which the Commission handled this matter can surely be questioned. The new company, however must be allowed to review the records of current personnel and rehire based upon their criteria and requirements, not public opinion.

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waltspecht 2 years, 4 months ago

Ever wonder why private industry can do things cheaper than governmental institutions? Could it have something to do with the buying of votes?

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Kerrie 2 years, 4 months ago

I believe this is stupid. You telling me that you want to make a decision without the public vote. Do not think all of the public does not have the education or the knowledge to make a vote. Here is what we are looking at: WE HAVE TO PAY THEM TO RUN IT. Most places charge $500,000 a year and they get all the equipment and buildings and trucks. I hate that we took part in a company walking through the door and telling the guys and gals that have served us for years "sorry you dont have a job anymore". You want my opinion, why don't we get rid of some management with the high salaries who never have to worry about someone walking through the door and telling them they don't have a job. I live in Mitchell county, I have property and I have a voice. I should have known. Listen up commissioners I will knock on every door in the region. YOU HAVE SAT FOR YOUR LAST TURN. The difference between me and you is I am giving you your warning to lose your job, you didn't do the same for the people who have served Mitchell county for years. During the tornados and rain and holidays and this is the thanks they get. I'm saying it now, Thank you Mitchell County paramedics and EMT's, your worked for crappy pay horrible conditions during the holidays so I could sit home and know you were on the clock tracking through the mud ready to shine when my family needed help. Everyone in Mitchell County with a business, offer them a job. They had no warning and they have children to raise and mortages to pay in these hard times to find a job. Shame on COMMISSIONERS!

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MRKIA 2 years, 4 months ago

TRYING TO GET THE COUNTY BUDGET UNDER CONTROL IS LAUDABLE BUT TO ACT WITHOUT NOTICE TO THE TAXPAYERS IS HIGHLY SUSPECT. ONE COMMISSIONER SAYS THE PEOPLE ELECTED THEM SO THEY SHOULD JUST TRUST WHAT THEY ARE DOING WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT THEIR DOING. THIS IS THE TYPE OF COMMISSIONER THE COUNTY DOES NOT NEED. RUN FOR OFFICE IN ALBANY.

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KaosinAlbany 2 years, 4 months ago

Sounds as if their commissioners are somehow related to the ones in Albany. They both have that same mind set they they can do what they want without having to be questioned by their constituents.

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