Commissioners reject offer to purchase Liberty County EMS equipment

Liberty County commissioners are backing away from an offer to purchase equipment from the now-defunct Liberty County EMS. On Tuesday, Feb. 2, commissioners held a short two-item meeting to formally end any consideration of buying the equipment to launch its own county-operated EMS service.

“At this time, after taking over the county jail, getting ready to build a law enforcement center and this not being budgeted, I don’t see us buying a half-million in assets that we may or may not ever use,” said Pct. 1 Commissioner Bruce Karbowski, who made the motion to turn down the offer.

Pct. 4 Commissioner Leon Wilson seconded the motion with all four commissioners then voting in favor of rejecting the equipment purchase.

Last month, Liberty County was offered the opportunity to purchase all of Liberty County EMS’s equipment and ambulances for $500,000, an amount significantly lower than the value of the items. As Liberty County EMS operated as a non-profit, the assets must be transferred to another non-profit ambulance service or business, or a government entity. Liberty County was given the first right of refusal.

With debt still associated with some of the items owned by Liberty County EMS, they could not simply transfer ownership of the ambulances to Liberty County; they had to be sold to pay off the debt.

Aware that commissioners were not going to vote in its favor, Liberty County EMS has already begun dismantling, said EMS Director Mike Koen. Several heart monitors were purchased by a neighboring EMS service, Texan Ambulance.

“They got a really good deal. We are happy about that. Greg Miller, who operates Texan Ambulance, has helped us through the years and we were happy to help them. Our monitors were more updated than theirs,” Koen said.

The distribution of the other equipment, including several ambulances, is still undecided. Koen said that several interested parties have come to their main office in Daisetta to inspect the equipment.

“We actually have folks coming out tomorrow to look. We don’t know where it is all going to go. It could end up in various places,” Koen said.

At Tuesday’s meeting, commissioners had intended to discuss and possibly award a contract for EMS service for the unincorporated areas of Liberty County. Liberty County Judge Jay Knight called for an executive session so that commissioners could go over the bids and fine details of a contract; however, it was pointed out by County Attorney Matt Poston that the public notice for the meeting had failed to mention an executive session, so the item was instead tabled.

Commissioners will include the EMS contract in their next meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 9.

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