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      Ambulance service ends contract with Jefferson County

      At a special meeting July 2 , employees of the Jefferson County Ambulance Service Agency expressed their displeasure with pay cuts and operation of the company. Many threatened to leave their jobs if things did not change.

      Following the meeting, the company released a statement on July 3 saying that Ray Rex, the director of the company, was stepping down from day-to-day operations, and Bill Luko was to take his place. Another letter sent July 6 announced that the Jefferson County Area Ambulance Corporation would be terminating their contract with Jefferson County on September 30, 2012. The original contract went to 2015.

      Now, the county has 90 days to look for a new company and contract, and hope to either subsidize at a higher level, or find a public option with lower costs.

      "There's no best. Each of the alternatives have their benefits," said Steve Burgmeier, of the Jefferson County Board of Supervisors. "I'd like it privatized, but with the reimbursement rates the way they are, I'm not sure... if we're going to be able to continue to do that for the long-term, and ambulances are long-term, so it's one of the essential services we have to provide."

      As far as ending the contract with the Jefferson County Ambulance Service Agency, Burgmeier said, considering the financial and operational problems, it was the best option.

      "We needed to make sure that the private ambulance providers can't run in the red, that's one of the things that stops the contract," he said. "And he doesn't want to run in the red, and I don't want him to run in the red. We need the agency to come up with enough money so that that doesn't happen."

      Another meeting will be held Wednesday, July 18 at 1:30 p.m. at the Jefferson County Health Center to discuss and consider possible requests for proposal regarding a new contract with a new company.