The Ashe County Board of Commissioners decided to place the county’s ambulance contract up for bid and proposed stipulations to ensure the bidder is local during the board’s planning meeting on Monday, March 18.
Since 1994, the county’s ambulance contract has been with Robert Poe, the director of Blue Ridge Medical Transport. The BOC’s first decision was whether to bid out the contract to other companies after its expiration or to renegotiate the contract with Poe.
“Either way is fine with me, we can either rebid the contract or keep Robert,” said Commissioner Judy Porter Poe.
“Robert does a tremendous job,” said Commissioner William Sands, “In all fairness, it might be good to put it (the ambulance contract) up and allow others to bid on it.”
Commissioner Gary Roark agreed with Sands.
“We need to throw it out for a bid,” said Roark. However, Roark was concerned with what would happen to Poe’s staff if the county chose a new provider.
After the commissioners decided to put the contract up for bid, they needed to establish bid requirements for potential applicants.
One of the agreed-upon requirements is a bidding company’s base must be located in the center of West Jefferson, Jefferson, and Warrensville.
After the base’s location was decided, Patty Gambill, the county’s emergency management coordinator, asked the board to stipulate how far from the base the director of the bidding company should live. According to Gambill, the bidder has traditionally lived in Ashe County.
“I would like the board to clarify that,” said Gambill. “Would you like the director to live in the county, out of the county, in the state or out of the state?”
“My recommendation is that they live in Ashe County,” said Ashe County BOC Chair Larry Rhodes.
When the commissioners began to discuss this question further, they decided they didn’t want to exclude other nearby bidders because companies’ directors lived just outside of Ashe County’s lines.
“I would want to restrict it to a 25 mile radius,” said Commissioner Gerald Price. “I still think that would give them (other bidding companies) the opportunity to be located in Wilkes, Boone or Greyson.”
By the end of the discussion, it was determined that Gambill would return with a draft of what needs to be included in an RFP (request for proposal) for the ambulance contract bid.
Although the board discussed requirements for the location of the ambulance base, and asked the company’s director live 25 miles away from the base, those requirements could change as the RFP is drafted.
According to Gambill, because this is a service contract, the ambulance contract doesn’t have to go to the lowest bidding company. The contract will go to the bidder that can perform the best service for the lowest amount.