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CHAPTER 343 AN ACT TO ASSURE ADEQUATE AND CONTINUING AMBULANCE SERVICES TO THE CITIZENS OF NORTH CAROLINA. The General Assembly of North Carolina do enact:
Section 153-9 of the North Carolina General Statutes is hereby amended by adding the following subsection to be designated as subsection -58 and to read as follows: 370 (58) (a) Upon finding as fact, after notice and public hearing, that exercise of the powers enumerated below is necessary to assure the provision of adequate and continuing ambulance services and that exercise of the powers enumerated below are necessary to preserve, protect and promote the public health, safety and general walfare, boards of county commissioners within their respective counties are hereby granted powers to: (1) Enact an ordinance making it unlawful to provide ambulance services or to operate ambulances without having been granted a franchise to do so; (2) Grant franchises to ambulance operators, based within or without the county; provided, that any ambulance operator providing ambulance services in any county upon the date of ratification of this Act and who continues to provide such services up to and including the effective date of any ordinance adopted pursuant to this subsection, and who submits to the board of commissioners of any such county evidence satisfactory to the board of such continuing service, shall be entitled to a franchise to serve at least that part of said county in which such service has been continuously provided, and the board of commissioners of any such county shall, upon finding that all other requirements of this Act are met, grant such franchise; (3) Limit the number of ambulances to be operated within the county, and by any operator; (4) Determine and prescribe areas of franchised service within the county; (5) Fix and change from time to time reasonable charges for franchised ambulance services; (6) Set minimum limits of liability insurance coverage for ambulances; (7) Contract with franchised ambulance operators for transportation to be rendered upon call of a county or municipal agency or department and for transportation of bona fide indigents or persons certified by the county welfare authorities to be public assistance recipients; (8) Establish other necessary regulations not inconsistent with statutes or regulations of the State Board of Health relating to ambulance service. In addition to the powers set forth above, the board of commissioners of any county or any portion thereof is hereby authorized to provide, or cause to be provided, ambulance service and shall have the power to own, operate and maintain ambulances, to provide and to make reasonable charges for ambulance services, or to contract with any public or private agency, person, firm, corporation or association, including public and private hospitals, for the rendering of ambulance services. In order to finance the costs of assuring adequate and continuing ambulance services in any manner authorized by this Act, boards of county commissioners are hereby authorized, in addition to the expenditure of nontax funds, to levy annually a special tax at such rate as may be necessary on each one hundred dollars ($100.00) of assessed valuation of taxable property within the county or within any portion of the county affected by lack of ambulance services; such special property tax shall be in addition to any tax allowed by law for such purpose and shall be in addition to the 371 rate allowed by the Constitution for general purposes and may be levied in a Special tax district created by the board of county commissioners in any portion of the county affected by lack of ambulance service. Such levy and the expenditure of the proceeds thereof for the purposes authorized herein are hereby declared to be a necessary expense and a special purpose and the special approval of the General Assembly is hereby given for such levy. In the event that a court of competent jurisdiction should decide that such levy and expenditure is not a necessary expense, then and in such event, the boards of county commissioners shall thereupon have the power and authority to call a referendum upon the question of the levy of such tax in the same manner and according to the laws governing general elections for county officers in the respective counties. (b) Any municipality may exercise, within its corporate limits only, all those powers enumerated in paragraph (a) of this subsection either upon the request of a municipality to the board of county commissioners and upon the adoption by the board of county commissioners of a resolution permitting such exercise, or after 180 days written notice to the board of county commissioners if the county is not exercising such powers at the end of such 180 days period. (c) No county ordinance enacted, or other county action taken, pursuant to powers granted herein shall be effective within a municipality which is at the time exercising such powers until 180 days after written notice to the governing body of the municipality. (d) Nothing herein shall be construed so as to authorize any county to regulate in any manner ambulances owned and operated by a municipality, or to authorize any municipality to regulate in any manner ambulances owned and operated by a county. (e) Any ambulance operated by a county or a municipality under authority of this Section shall be subject to the provisions of G. S. 130-230 through 130-234 and to the regulations of the State Board of Health adopted thereunder.