SAN DIEGO (CNS) - The San Diego City Council Monday approved a renegotiated two-year deal with a private ambulance company that dissolves a joint-venture between the city and the firm.
The change stems from an audit of the relationship between San Diego and Rural/Metro of San Diego, which uncovered millions of dollars of allegedly questionable financial transactions.
Rural/Metro -- which also contracts with Del Mar, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and the county of San Diego -- has denied wrongdoing and is participating in an investigation being overseen by a retired federal judge.
Under the plan Rural/Metro will buy out the partnership for $5.5 million and pay the city an annual fee of $9 million in the first year and $10 million in the second year.
The average price for a ride to a hospital in an ambulance for patients would jump from the current $1,300 to $1,533 in the first year and $1,761 in the second year.
While city officials describe the fee as "cost recovery," residents will see it as another painful fee hike, Councilwoman Lorie Zapf said.
"They assume their taxes are paying for this," Zapf said.
She joined Carl DeMaio and Kevin Faulconer in dissenting in a 5-3 vote.
City officials will open ambulance services to competitive bidding in the next two years.
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