Q&A: Private service and Open Door Law


From the The Mail-Journal (Milford):

Q: Would a private ambulance service that receives funds from town and township councils/boards for service fall under the Open Door Law? To my knowledge this service’s meetings are not publicized.

Here’s something from its website: “MTEMS is a not-for-profit 501-c3 corporation. Operating funds are obtained by tax subsidy and revenue generated by ambulance calls …” 

A: Receiving a fee to provide EMS services for a government agency would not put the private entity under the umbrella of the state’s access laws.

I did note though that the entity says its operating funds are obtained by “tax subsidy and revenue generated by ambulance calls.”

The reference to a tax subsidy may be a poor description of the contracted fees and possibly inaccurate, but if the entity does receive subsidies from government units (as opposed to a fee-for-service arrangement), it may fall under the audit of the state board of accounts, which would make it a public agency under the state’s Open Door Law and Access to Public Records Act.

Check with taxing units to see if their arrangements are contracted fee-for-service terms. Also check with the board of accounts to see if the ambulance service is an entity the board audits.

Contact Steve Key, HSPA executive director and general counsel, with media law questions at skey@hspa.com or (317) 624-4427.