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San Diego Council To Mull Future Of Ambulance Contract

The future of ambulance services in San Diego is scheduled to be taken up by the City Council's Public Safety and Neighborhood Services Committee Wednesday.

The council approved a one-year contract extension in June with Rural/Metro, which handles emergency medical services in conjunction with the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department. However, the company subsequently declared bankruptcy.

Before Bob Filner resigned as mayor last month, city officials decided to put the ambulance contract out to competitive bidding. The mayor's office is scheduled to provide an update on the process at the committee meeting.

The city and Rural/Metro had been in a joint venture for many years when a city audit in 2011 turned up alleged accounting irregularities that might have cost the city as much as $11 million.

Rural/Metro denied wrongdoing, and City Attorney Jan Goldsmith said a later investigation exonerated the company. However, the partnership was dissolved and converted into a typical vendor contract.

Rural/Metro contracts for ambulance services with local governments around the nation, including Del Mar, Encinitas, Rancho Santa Fe, Solana Beach and the county of San Diego.

In a letter to the mayor's office, the company said it is restructuring in order to reduce its debt. In the meantime, operations are continuing normally and employees are being paid, according to Rural/Metro.

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