Commissioner Bernard changes mind on AMR agreement
County to move toward approving ambulance service contract
The ambulance service contract saga in Clackamas County took another twist Tuesday.
Clackamas County commissioners indicated they will negotiate changes to a proposed contract for countywide ambulance service from American Medical Response and move toward approving the contract later this month.
The decision, which has the support of three commissioners, followed a public announcement by Commissioner Jim Bernard that he has withdrawn his opposition and now supports the companys bid.
I want to take responsibility for my mistake and rectify this wrong decision, Bernard said. My goal has always been to obtain the best emergency response service for the best price. That is still my goal.
On Jan. 28, Bernard had joined with board Chairman John Ludlow and Commissioner Tootie Smith in supporting just a one-year extension for AMR on the current contract that expires April 30. At the time they voted to deny AMRs regular four-year extension.
Following that vote, AMR Oregon General Manager Randy Lauer said he was uncertain how his company would respond after commissioners directed staff to negotiate a one-year extension to the current contract.
It seems so far more like a take it or leave it stance, rather than good-faith negotiations, Lauer said. However, we are hoping for an opportunity to sit down directly with a few commissioners to see if we can find a resolution to the current situation.
Apparently that effort paid off.
Commissioners will discuss possible changes to the proposal over the next week or two and plan to schedule a formal vote within two weeks.
The decision to move forward with the proposal is supported by Commissioners Paul Savas and Martha Schrader.
AMRs proposed contract is sound, provides cost savings and serves the best interests of the community, the county and the hard-working public safety professionals, said Savas. The ambulance crews that serve Clackamas County do an outstanding job, and they deserve to have the certainty that a contract provides, as do the citizens we represent.
I have always felt that this has been a complete proposal, said Schrader. As we have gone through the process, AMR has tried to accommodate the issues that have been raised.
Smith and Ludlow disagreed with the board majority.
I believe that, at its core, the intent and purpose of the (request for proposals) for Clackamas County ambulance service is to proceed through a full competitive bidding process, which provides side-by-side comparisons of proposals, Smith said. That did not occur in this case. A true competitive process would have produced much better proposals with ideas, improvements and savings.
I have serious concerns that the cost savings, so widely touted for the first year of the proposal, are not sustainable over the multi-year term of the contract, Ludlow said. The proposal was not responsive. In my judgment, it was not in substantial compliance with the countys request for proposal.
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