Allegany County, NY, after an hour-long closed door meeting of the Board of Legislators Public Safety Committee today, is apparently on its way toward using a private transport company to supplement volunteer ambulance services throughout the county.
The previously undisclosed move, which was endorsed some half hour later at a special meeting of the board’s Ways and Means Committee, will cost the county $600,000 for six months, although it appears it may be extended, and possibly expanded, indefinitely.
The agreement, with Medical Transport Service (MTS) of Scio, was described by County Attorney Allison Carrow as starting today and running through March 4 of next year, despite a contract not yet having been approved by the full Board of Legislators, which won’t meet until next Wednesday.
Carrow said at the meetings that she didn’t have a Memorandum of Explanation for the package for legislators to look at and didn’t provide details as to how the system would work or what would be included as it relates to services.
She said she would provide information to Clerk of the Board Brenda Rigby Riehle later today.
Late this afternoon, Rigby issued a press release from the office of County Administrator Carissa Knapp saying only that:
“The Allegany County Board of Legislators has committed itself to the improvement of emergency management services within Allegany County. Throughout the year, Allegany County has initiated several measures towards that goal, including establishing an EMS Advisory Board and securing an EMS Medical Director.
“As the County looks for ways to ensure the long-term future of EMS services within the County, it has become clear that our future depends on securing the ambulance services that augment the dedicated efforts of our volunteer agencies.
“Today, the County is taking a giant step forward in these efforts by collaborating with Medical Transport Services, Inc. (MTS), the primary private provider of EMS services in Allegany County, by entering into a contract with MTS while the parties enter discussions regarding the possibility of the County assuming ambulance operations.”
The executive session of the Public Safety Committee, which hadn’t been announced previously as has occurred in the past, came in the midst of an afternoon of committee meetings, backing up proceedings and leaving department heads and others waiting in hallways outside Board chambers so they could present their monthly reports and request scheduled actions of their own which did appear on various agendas.
The special meeting of the Ways and Means Committee had been announced Monday, to be sandwiched into the regular committee meetings schedule, with an agenda yesterday only listing specifically a request from Knapp for a Federal Transit Administration (FTA) Grant Application for Rural Area Program and referrals from other committees.
The state Open Meetings Law provides that “any proposed resolution, law, rule, regulation, policy or any amendment thereto, that is scheduled to be the subject of discussion by a public body during an open meeting shall be made available, upon request therefor, to the extent practicable at least twenty-four hours prior to the meeting during which the records will be discussed.”
The county attorney, in response to prior allegations by Allegany Hope Community News of multiple violations of the statute, maintained in an August letter that the board is exempt from the law’s provisions when she has not finished a work product, thereby making it a privileged communication which is made available to the public as soon as it is “reasonably practicable.”
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