The clock is winding down on Citrus County government’s takeover of its ambulance system from the not-for-profit that has had the county contract for more than 20 years.
At a special meeting Wednesday, commissioners voted unanimously to keep in place an emergency declaration that board Chairman Scott Carnahan signed Friday.
The declaration provides authority for County Administrator Randy Oliver to spend money without prior board approval, negotiate contracts and bypass the bid process in the circumstances related to the Oct. 2 takeover of Nature Coast EMS.
In a Friday email to commissioners, County Attorney Denise Dymond Lyn said the emergency is necessary to ensure the transition takes place on time with no glitches.
“As staff proceeds with your direction related to Emergency Medical Transportation Services, it has become apparent that an emergency situation exists in standing up the services by Oct. 1, 2021,” she wrote. “Necessary contracts, equipment, personnel and supplies are needed in order to begin providing the service on Oct. 1, 2021. As expressed at your last meeting, staff anticipated that a declaration might be needed and such is now evident.”
In a series of back-and-forth emails with Lyn and Oliver, Commissioner Ruthie Davis Schlabach opposed an emergency declaration without County Commission approval first.
“I have questions how tax dollars will be spent without the approval of the BOCC,” Schlabach wrote.
Both Oliver and Lyn replied Friday that they could not get a quorum for an emergency meeting before the one held Wednesday.
Schlabach and Commissioner Holly Davis, attending a Florida Association of Counties conference, participated in Wednesday’s meeting remotely.
Oliver said all but four of NCEMS’s 72 paramedics and emergency medical technicians applied for jobs with the county heading into the transition.
“The jobs are very much in demand,” he said.
The county so far has committed about $900,000 in spending for NCEMS during the transition, Oliver said.
Commissioners voted at their Sept. 14 meeting to take control of ambulance services, citing financial concerns with Nature Coast EMS.