Augusta commissioners divided on Gold Cross contract

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News 12 at 6 o'clock / Thursday, May 23, 2013

Augusta Commission - Augusta seal with skyline

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW) -- Augusta commissioners are split down the middle on whether or not to renegotiate their ambulance contract with Gold Cross.

The only problem is 12 other companies want the job, and commissioners voted months ago to have a new contract drawn up.

Commissioner Alvin Mason says competition will get the best price for Augusta taxpayers, but some of his colleagues don't agree.

"I'm for it. I think they have done an excellent job for Richmond County. Why do we want to deal with somebody 150 miles up the road?" said Commissioner Grady Smith.

"The thing that I think that everybody needs to realize is that we're dealing with taxpayers' dollars. In order to do that in the most effective and efficient manner and being good stewards of those taxpayer dollars, we have to have the competition in order to get the best price and in order to get the best service," Mason said.

Commissioner Marion Williams says he wants to repeal the plans for a new ambulance contract. He tried it last week, and he's at it again.

"I really don't want to stop the process, I just think the way the process was started was wrong," Williams said.

Commissioners voted back in February to give Gold Cross a nine-month notice to fire them. The old contract was several years old, and some leaders say it does not address the new needs of this county.

"It doesn't make sense. We are in a position to get the best contract possible for the city," Mason said.

"I don't want to get into pointing the fingers, but I'm going to do what I think is right, and I think it'll be good to keep this ambulance service if we can," Williams said.

More than a dozen other ambulance companies attended a meeting last month to get the job. Leaders will have those companies' final proposals at the end of May.

Commissioners step back into the ring next Tuesday for the next round in this fight.

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