All ten Knox County commissioners present at Monday's work session voted in favor of approving a new contract with Rural/Metro Ambulance service. The full commission will vote to finalize the contract at next week's commission meeting.
Knox County Director of Purchasing Hugh Holt says the county estimates the value of the ambulance contract as $50 million a year.
The money is paid by patients and insurance providers, not the county.
The contract comes with the option of two five year renewal options.
In previous years, Hugh says the county has subsidized ambulance operations. Finance Director Chris Caldwell estimates the subsidy at approximately $660,000 annually. But he says the new contract eliminates that subsidy.
Rural/Metro has held the contract with Knox County since 1985.
The company's contract was set to expire in July 2013, so Knox County put out a request for proposals (RFP) for companies who were interested in the job.
They received three proposals, one from Rural/Metro, one from American Medical Response (AMR), and one from Falck USA.
An evaluation committee revealed their recommendation to stay with Rural/Metro for five more years.
After the decision, American Medical Response filed a protest with the Knox County Purchasing Department, which claimed there were significant flaws in the recent EMS contract recommendation.
They contend there were conflicts of interest during the selection process.
Knox County Purchasing Director Hugh Holt said after a careful review, he denied AMR's protest and determined it was without merit.
The appeal is still pending. AMR may submit their appeal to the finance director and mayor, before heading to court.
Commissioner Mike Hammond questioned Knox County Purchasing Director Hugh Holt about the process.
Holt denied any conflicts of interest on the selection committee, saying the seven person board had acted with "integrity."
Hammond ultimately said he was satisfied all the companies "got a fair shake."