Interesting developments at a lengthy Knox County Commission meeting on Monday.
The final vote wasn’t even close, 7-4, as the commission extended AMR/Rural Metro’s contract to provide ambulance service for another five years. The extension was endorsed by Mayor Tim Burchett, Farragut Mayor Ralph McGill, Sheriff Jimmy “J.J.” Jones, Dr. Martha Buchanan of the Knox County Health Department and area hospitals.
AMR/Rural Metro had lobbying support from former Commissioner Mike Arms and Mike Cohen.
Voting “no” were the commission chair, Dave Wright, along with Charles Busler, Bob Thomas and Ed Brantley. Those who spoke stressed they did not have a problem with AMR’s service or personnel. Thomas said it was about determining who can do the best job. “We’ve got to get it right.” He favored rebidding the contract.
Feelings were hurt and egos bruised during the debate. Wright said commissioners must expect calls and letters on controversial issues.
Commissioner Brad Anders led the effort to retain AMR, with “yes” votes also coming from Evelyn Gill, Michele Carringer, Randy Smith, Hugh Nystrom, John Schoonmaker and Carson Dailey. Because of term limits, none of today’s commissioners will be on the body when the contract comes for another renewal in 2023.