JASPER, Tenn. -- When Marion County made the switch from Grandview Medical Center to Puckett EMS for ambulance services in March, the County Commission was required to buy Grandview's five remaining vehicles.
At its recent meeting, the board voted 10-3 to donate one of the ambulances to the county's Disaster Animal Response Team and voted 12-1 to accept the highest bids for the remaining trucks.
Giving DART one of the ambulances amounted to a $4,500 donation to that organization, officials said.
After the news was published about the county's interest in selling the ambulances, County Mayor John Graham said his office fielded a flurry of inquiries.
At least 27 individuals or companies officially contacted Graham about buying the ambulances and "probably that many more" called about them in recent weeks, he said.
"I got calls from all over the country, but we only got a total of four bids out of the 40 or so people that contacted us about it," he said.
Commissioner Donald Blansett, who is chairman of the board's Ambulance Committee, said the county received bids on all of the ambulances totaling $32,000.
The county paid Grandview $53,875 for all the vehicles, he said, but the original contract called for the vehicles to cost the county between $82,000 and $132,000.
According to the contract, each side would get an appraisal for the vehicles' worth and if those didn't match up, officials said, the county would pay the average of the two appraisals.
"Our appraisals were about $30,000 less than the average, but Grandview just agreed to use the lowest appraisal," Graham said in July. "We were very fortunate that we did not have to pay the average."
Blansett said accepting all the bids would put the county "somewhere in the neighborhood of $21,875 in the hole" for recovering the amount of money it had to pay to Grandview.
Graham said the highest bid received was $17,000 for one of the Ford models.
"I can assure you that we'd probably never get a bid like that for this ambulance again," he said.
The county received a bid of $6,000 for its other Ford ambulance, officials said, and the remaining two Freightliner models accounted for a total of only $9,000 in bids.
Commission Chairman Les Price said the bids were "about half of what we suspect [the vehicles] are worth, or at least, what we paid for them."
"I think what we've got [in these bids] is a good overview for what we'd be able to obtain for these ambulances," Graham said.
Ryan Lewis is based in Marion County. Contact him at email@example.com.