The countys former ambulance service company will declare bankruptcy unless the Citrus County Commission allows it to keep some revenues after the Citrus County Fire Rescue takes over the service Oct. 2.
The county commission voted 3-2 earlier this month to end its contract with the private ambulance company and take over the service after Nature Coast EMS kept returning for additional financial help to keep it operating and give staff sorely needed raises.
Nature Coast EMS lawyer Jennifer Rey told the commission Tuesday that the Nature Coast board has been cooperative with county officials about the takeover but when the county takes over the service, Nature Coasts revenues will stop. Ray told commissioners that Nature Coast will still have some expenses, namely claims remaining of a year-long contract for health insurance for company employees, and without revenues, plans to file for bankruptcy after the transfer.
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Nature Coast is not in a position to fund those remaining costs, she said.
But there seems little interest among county commissioners to bail out Nature Coast after the transition.
Filing for bankruptcy is solely their decision, said Commissioner Jeff Kinnard of Nature Coast.
The contract with Nature Coast allows the county to take over the service and collect the revenue, he told the Chronicle. Any monies due Nature Coast will have to be sorted out by county staff and brought back to the commission for approval, he said.
The announcement of a bankruptcy doesnt affect my plan for the direction were going, he said.
Commissioner Holly Davis told the Chronicle she didnt see at this point why the commission might have any interest in sharing revenue with Nature Coast after the transfer.
My number one priority is the Citrus County residents, Davis said.
County Attorney Denise Dymond Lyn told the Chronicle she has not yet determined if the bankruptcy would affect the county or transfer.
As part of the original plan to fold the emergency transport business into the countys fire rescue department, the county board agreed to pay Nature Coast enough money to cover its operating expenses for the rest of September.
Most of Nature Coasts employees will transfer to the county fire rescue department. Nature Coast EMS Chief Scott Baxter previously told the commission that about half a dozen Nature Coast employees will remain with the company to help oversee the transition and wind down the private, non-profit company.
Rey said that without county commission help Nature Coasts board will file for bankruptcy after the transition, but will continue to help with the transition work.
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