FLORENCE — After getting detailed answers to some detailed questions, and with no clear way forward emerging Tuesday afternoon in a joint meeting of the City Council and the Lauderdale County Commission, officials from both entities were advised to ignore some of the details.
The two governing bodies met to discuss ambulance service contract bids submitted by Lauderdale EMS, which serves the city and county, and Shoals Ambulance Service. The service is a joint contract and is up for award.
Some of the discussion centered around what the two services would charge customers, but city treasurer and chief accountant, Dan Barger, said those figures can be deceptive.
Barger told them the overwhelming majority of the business the ambulance services will be paid for is on a set fee basis. For example, he said Medicaid and Medicare base payments for services on complex geographical and income formulas, and those payments are considerably lower than the charges submitted. The same applies to Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Alabama, he said, which is the dominant insurance carrier in the state.
"The quality of the service and equipment, location and personnel is what I would advise you to consider," Barger said.
Many of the county commissioners' concerns were based on placement of ambulances outside the city limits of Florence.
Shoals' bid would have an ambulance in Rogersville, Killen and either Central Heights or Rhodesville. There would be seven ambulances in Florence, with backups available if needed from Colbert County.
Mayor Mickey Haddock said what caught his attention in the Shoals bid was the guarantee of 1,400 manned hours of ambulance service per month, compared to Lauderdale's 1,008 manned hours.
County Commissioner Fay Parker said the bids do not include ambulances being present during football games at county schools, though Florence High School games would have one present.
Phil Stevenson, city purchasing agent, said the requirement for an ambulance at Braly Municipal Stadium has been included for years.
"But we feel it would be equitable to have one at events at all schools," he said.
Council President Dick Jordan said he plans to have the ambulance service contract on the council's Feb. 19 meeting agenda.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.