CAMILLA, Ga. — Less than a month after county commissioners voted to privatize the Mitchell County Emergency Medical Service, a grand jury has launched an investigation into the deal, court documents show.
A Mitchell County grand jury asked District Attorney Joe Mulholland Tuesday to assist them in convening a special investigative committee made up of grand jury members to subpoena documents and compel witnesses to testify as to why the commission made the decision.
According to the presentment filed Tuesday, the grand jury voted to “inquire into the county’s handling of EMS services and accounting practices of those receiving funds from the county.”
The committee appointed to investigate the matter is expected to have a report back to the full grand jury by June 27.
Jerry Permenter, the interim county administrator for Mitchell County, said he’s fully prepared to cooperate with anything the grand jury wishes to examine and is ready to turn over anything that’s subpoenaed.
“I welcome the review or the investigation, whatever they’re calling it,” Permenter said. “I’ll provide them with every single thing I’ve got. I see this as an opportunity to provide more insight into the workings of the county and show that we’re doing what we can and what we have to do to make this county better.”
One issue that critics of the EMS privatization have voiced involves the allocation of special sales tax funds that were approved by the voters to go to the EMS department before the decision to privatize the organization was made.
Permenter said, under his interpretation of the law, that SPLOST funding that was previously allocated for the Mitchell County EMS cannot be used now that the organization is run by a private company, and that those funds will go into the sales tax accounts for road and bridge improvements.