The county’s former emergency medical services company will file for bankruptcy unless the Citrus County Commission allows it to retain some revenue after the Citrus County Fire Rescue took over on October 2nd.
The district commission voted 3-2 earlier this month to end their contract with the private ambulance company and take over the service after Nature Coast EMS kept returning for additional financial help to keep operations going and much-needed staff increases to obtain.
Nature Coast EMS attorney Jennifer Rey told the commission Tuesday that Nature Coast’s board of directors had been “cooperative” with county officials in the takeover, but if the county takes over the service, Nature Coast’s revenue will be suspended. Ray told commissioners that Nature Coast will still have some expenses, namely entitlements under a one-year health insurance contract for employees of the company, and plans with no revenue to file for bankruptcy after the transfer.
Nature Coast is unable to fund these remaining costs, she said.
But the district commissioners seem to have little interest in saving Nature Coast after the transition.
The bankruptcy filing “is up to you,” said Nature Coast Commissioner Jeff Kinnard.
The contract with Nature Coast allows the county to take over the service and collect the revenue, he told the Chronicle. All monies due on Nature Coast must be sorted out by the county staff and returned to the commission for approval, he said.
The bankruptcy announcement “does not affect my plan for the direction we are going,” he said.
Commissioner Holly Davis told the Chronicle that at this point she did not see why the Commission might have an interest in sharing the proceeds with Nature Coast after the transfer.
“My number one priority is the people of Citrus County,” said Davis.
District Attorney Denise Dymond Lyn told the Chronicle that she has not yet determined whether the bankruptcy would affect the district or the transfer.
As part of the original plan to incorporate the emergency transportation business into the county fire department, the county board agreed to pay Nature Coast enough money to cover its operating expenses for the remainder of September.
Most of the Nature Coast employees will be joining the local fire department. Nature Coast EMS chief Scott Baxter previously told the commission that about half a dozen Nature Coast employees will stay with the company to oversee the transition and run the private, nonprofit company.
Rey said that the Nature Coast board of directors will file for bankruptcy after the transition without help from the district commission, but will continue to assist with the transition work.