Will the county's ambulance service go private? Public hearing tomorrow

Fremont County Treasurer Scott Harnsberger last week came out against a draft contract between Fremont County and a private ground ambulance provider. A public hearing on the draft contract agreement is set for tomorrow (Tuesday) afternoon at 1:30 at the Commissioner’s Chambers. A decision to approve the contact may be made at the end of the hearing. “The (Fremont County) Commission has heard very little from the citizens,” he said. “Do they understand it will be at a higher cost and still continue to be subsidized by our tax dollars?” he asked at a press conference. One citizen who attended the press conference complained the proposed contract was posted on the county’s website but it was not publicized. “I only stumbled upon it by accident,” she said. “My goal is to present financial information to show the fact that the proposed contract calls for significant subsidies to a for-profit company and to persuade the commission to lay out for the public why they believe a public/private partnership (structured this way) is the answer,” Harnsberger said. He said that while there is room for public-private agreements, “the way this contract is written gives the company (Air Medical Resource Group aka Guardian) a near monopoly now and in the future.” The county treasure noted that under the agreement, the county still maintains all responsibility for the fleet and facilities and that there is no provision in the contract for Guardian to replace the current rolling stock. “All I’ve heard from the commissioners is that private is better than public,” he said. “This agreement will cost the county and the commission has not asked me what the financial implications will be,” he said. “Privatization with a government subsidy may be the answer, but I believe there are other avenues that have not been thoroughly explored,” he said. “This proposal appears to be fairly one-sided and risky for Fremont County. Feature Photo: Fremont County Treasurer Scott Harnsberger charged a draft agreement to privatize the county's ambulance service has not received enough thought nor public scrutiny. A hearing on the contract is Tuesday afternoon. *(Pitchengine Communities) *