Aiken County Council voted to terminate a franchise agreement with Williston Rescue Squad at its regular meeting on Tuesday night.
Williston Rescue Squad's Board of Directors requested the termination due to the fact that it was not in compliance with several requirements of the County's franchise agreement. Williston Rescue Squad offers emergency services to Barnwell County but only handled non-emergency or convalescent transport for Aiken County.
According to County officials, the franchise contract requires its franchisees to have a physical presence in the County, but Williston Rescue Squad's listed address was that of a gun shop belonging to one of its employees.
Another issue was Williston Rescue Squad had delinquent Aiken County vehicle taxes. Williston Rescue Squad Chief Operating Officer Phil Clarke said they have since paid the outstanding taxes that amounted to $37.83.
Clarke said Williston Rescue Squad first applied for the franchise in 2010 or 2011, as it wanted to expand its general transport operations into Aiken County, but that goal became harder to reach due to other challenges.
In 2013, Williston Rescue Squad agreed to pay the United States $800,000 to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act by making the false claims for payment to Medicare.
Clarke said there's still the possibility in the future to expand their services into Aiken County.
“As time progresses, as things change, we'll certainly look at the possibility for reapplying for the franchise,” Clarke said. “But looking at where we are right now and the things that we want to do, we didn't see where it was in our best interest to continue with the franchise.”
Amy Banton is the County reporter for the Aiken Standard and has been with the publication since May 2010. She is a native of Rustburg, Va., and a graduate of Randolph-Macon Woman's College.