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Sunday, Mar 29, 2015

County holds off on handing off transports


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BROOKSVILLE - County commissioners voted 3-2 Tuesday to stay the course on emergency transports.

After an hour-long debate, board members decided to keep in place the certificate of public convenience and necessity (COPCN) between Hernando County and Pasco County-based MedFleet Inc.

Currently, MedFleet supplements the transports done by county employees and helps out when and where needed.

Unless circumstances change, that arrangement stays the same.

"We have a system that isn't broken," County Commissioner Diane Rowden said. "(Just) keep it as is."

County Commissioners Nick Nicholson and Wayne Dukes, who voted in the negative Tuesday, had originally broached the possibility of modifying the COPCN and give MedFleet more duties - such as out-of-county transports - so as to free up county EMS workers to handle the higher-level emergency calls.

"Our ambulances should not be leaving the county unless it's an emergency," Nicholson said.

Nicholson said this wasn't about taking jobs away from county EMS staffers, but he didn't want them "chauffeuring" people out of the county when they could be available for emergency calls.

But County Fire Chief Mike Rampino said the current arrangement works fine and his personnel are not being stretched thin. Those transports also bring in money to offset fire department expenses.

The original intent of the certificate, signed in January, was for MedFleet to handle some of the non-life-threatening 911 calls to free up county paramedics and EMTs to handle more serious cases.

Also Tuesday:

Ann Semeniuk was denied a special exception use permit to run a hunting camp on 80 acres on the south side of Cortez Boulevard, west of McKethan Road.

Several residents spoke against the request, saying they were afraid all the shooting would disturb the tranquility of the quiet community.

The majority of commissioners said a hunting camp poised a threat to the health, safety and welfare of residents. Commissioner Nick Nicholson supported the request and cited the potential for a lawsuit from the petitioner.

Commissioners voted unanimously to increase the annual assessment for Hernando Beach Volunteer Fire Department residents for the first time since 2006.

Residential assessments will increase from $66.07 to $107.36. Vacant lots will increase from $44 to $71.57. Commercial assessments will rise from the current $109.82 to $169.98.

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