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Va. Health Provider Proposes to End EMS Payment

NORFOLK, Va. -- Albemarle Health has proposed giving up its profits from a land sale in exchange for being relieved of its annual Emergency Medical Service contribution to Pasquotank (Va.) County.

Each year, Albemarle Health pays Pasquotank County's portion of EMS costs that is not covered by revenue collections. But over the years, that cost has dramatically increased. Last spring, when EMS began providing paid staff 24 hours a day, the hospital's contribution grew to approximately $738,000.

In March, the Pasquotank County Board of Commissioners approved the sale of a piece of Nags Head property for $7.25 million. The land was once intended for an Albemarle Health facility, and the profit from the sale was to be split between the county and Albemarle Health.

On Monday, Ray Owings, chief financial officer for Albemarle Health, told the commissioners that it would give up its share of the profits if the county would eliminate the required EMS contribution.

"We would complete this year's cycle," Owings said.

He also said that if there is a delay in closing the land sale, Albemarle Health would be willing to discuss payments for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1.

County Manager Randy Keaton said Albemarle Health's land sale profits - $3.6 million - would cover the EMS contribution for about five years.

Pasquotank County is also preparing to negotiate a new contract with Camden County, which shares the EMS. Five years ago, Pasquotank agreed to trade Camden's contribution to EMS for a contribution to the College of The Albemarle.

That contract expires this year, but it was also scheduled for renegotiation because the EMS increased its paid staff to 24-hour coverage, Keaton said.

The commissioners, unprepared for Albemarle Health's proposal on Monday, said they would wait until the land deal is closed before considering the offer.

"We should probably wait until we have the money," said Commissioner Matt Wood.

The 10.51-acre parcel on U.S. 158, north of East Baltic Street, has been vacant since The Outer Banks Hospital was built through a partnership of University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina and what is now Chesapeake Regional Medical Center.

Pasquotank commissioners hoped the land, initially valued at $1 million, would sell for as much as $10 million when they decided to sell and split the revenue with Albemarle Health in 2004.

Ocean Beach Club LLC, one of the corporate entities collectively known as Gold Key/PHR, bid $9.45 million for the property in 2005.

The Virginia Beach-based company wanted to build a hotel, restaurant and timeshare property but terminated its sales agreement in July because of density restrictions in Nags Head.

Since then, offers have gotten lower and less frequent.

R.V. Owens III, who formerly owned RV's Restaurant on the Nags Head-Manteo causeway, submitted the $7.25 million offer that was accepted in March.

He is working within the 180-day period to determine whether his plans for the parcel will work before completing the purchase. Owens has not yet revealed his plans.

Lauren King, (252) 338-2413,

lauren.king@pilotonline.com

The proposal

Albemarle Health would give up its share of the profit on a land sale if the county would eliminate the required EMS contribution. Albemarle Health's profit - $3.6 million - would cover the EMS contribution for about five years. The commissioners said they would wait until the land deal is closed before considering the offer.

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