MERCED — The Merced County Board of Supervisors unanimously voted Tuesday to extend the Riggs Ambulance Service contract until the end of August.
The move, officials say, would extend ambulance services until a new bidding process can be completed.
The county is required to bid the contract through a Request for Proposal every 10 years, which is the reason for the August deadline, said Kathleen Grassi, public health director.
The decision to reopen the bid stemmed from a Jan. 29 board decision to restart the process after Riggs objected to the selection of competitor American Medical Response.
Chairwoman and District 4 Supervisor Deidre Kelsey said the county is "under the gun" to complete the process by August because its ambulance system is an exclusive operating area.
"If it's not done by August, we'll have to have discussions with the state," Kelsey said. "I don't anticipate it will come to that. We'll try to expedite (the process) to meet that August deadline."
Kelsey said the board's decision Tuesday to extend the contract ensures there will be no interruption to service for Merced County residents.
"The whole system is tied into Riggs and the system they've established over the last 10 years," she said. "So we have to keep the system until we finish (the) RFP process. This is the best option that we have right now."
Meanwhile, county officials are getting closer to announcing the name of the consultant tasked with writing the new Request for Proposal document.
There won't be a bidding process to select the consultant, and an announcement is expected next week, according to Mark Cowart, Merced County administrative services director.
The extension won't change the terms of Riggs' original contract, Grassi said, but another extension may be necessary if the process isn't completed by the end of August.
But Kelsey said she has confidence in the staff's ability to complete the new bid by that time. "I've been told by the staff that it's possible to get the process done by August, and they'll try to expedite it as much as they can."
Reporter Ramona Giwargis can be reached at (209) 385-2477 or firstname.lastname@example.org.