By Paul Gable
The more I think about Horry County Fire Chief Fred Crosby’s proposal regarding private medical transport services, the more astounded I become.
In a proposal to the Horry County Public Safety Committee last week, Crosby advocated forcing private medical transport services operating in the county to enter into franchise agreements with Horry County, pay over $1,000 each for the privilege and be on call to supplement county EMS services as needed.
The franchise payment would be in addition to county business license fees and, according to Crosby’s proposal, the private ambulance services wouldn’t get business licenses if they didn’t sign the franchise agreement.
While the private medical transport services would be paid, they would have to charge fee rates equal to county rates and would be totally responsible for billing and collecting those fees. Tough luck to the private medical transport companies if they couldn’t collect.
Crosby is under some pressure to rein in the Fire/EMS Department budget, especially in the area of overtime pay.
But, this isn’t the way to do it.
Think about the precedent it would set.
If Horry County Council went along with this proposal what is to stop it from requiring private security services to take over some of the patrol responsibilities of the Horry County Police Department, as needed?
How about requiring private waste haulers to haul waste from the county’s convenience centers for some minimal payment?
Or requiring restaurants to cater county government functions at cost?
The list of possibilities for requiring private businesses to serve county government at reduced cost to the county is potentially wide and varied.
Crosby’s proposal was poorly considered. Fortunately, the committee members voted to defer consideration so more thinking could go into the idea.
Controlling county government expenses is a good idea, but not by instituting ‘pay to play’ plans which would effectively be the first step toward the ‘People’s Republic of Horry.’