Bay County's takeover of EMS from Bay Medical-Sacred Heart took a major step forward Tuesday when county commissioners agreed to a plan for funding start-up costs.
The commission voted to obtain a $3 million line of credit from Hancock Bank, at an interest rate of 1.29%, to purchase equipment and support initial cash flow requirements. The hospital has offered to sell existing equipment to the county for $300,000.
The line of credit is intended to be a short-term funding mechanism until EMS begins collecting revenue. According to county officials, revenue will begin exceeding expenses in the eighth month of operations and start-up costs will be recovered in about 18 months. The county hopes to operate EMS as a "revenue neutral" service.
"It's like the crank up of any new business… you've got to have a little seed money," Commissioner George Gainer said. "There's certain things that you've got to buy and pay for and reserves that you need to be able to depend on and we didn't want to see the county get in some kind of a budget bind because of this."
"This money will allow us the cushion we need from start up to collections coming in [and] in case we have any equipment problems," Commissioner Mike Thomas said. "This is a number [staff] felt comfortable with in a worst case scenario."
The county plans to transition EMS – with no interruption in ambulance service – on October 1.