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Progress on ambulance contract disappoints city leaders

Published: May. 10, 2022 at 3:45 PM EDT|Updated: May. 10, 2022 at 6:18 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - There were hopes for progress Tuesday on drawing up a new ambulance contract between the city of Augusta and Gold Cross Emergency Medical Service, but those hopes fell flat.

Augusta Commission members last week asked the city administrator to formalize a new contract and come back this week with the contract for approval.

But commission members learned Tuesday that the administrator had written up a contract and Gold Cross had written up a separate contract — but the two parties had no discussion together.

“Well, it’s just a dog, and a pony show is what it really is,” said Alvin Mason, commissioner for District 4.

Both had contracts were ready Tuesday, but some commissioners were very unhappy with the contract drawn by the administrator.

John Clarke, commissioner for District 10 said: “That was a problem in itself. How can you come to an agreement on a contract, when you never met the parties involved in the contract?”

Mason says he wanted the city admin to work with Gold Cross on a contract. Instead, the contract she created was the same as one created by Sammie Sias in 2018.

“I think is that she was probably pressured. That’s generally how it goes up here in one direction or another,” said Mason.

They voted to hold a workshop to talk about the contract details.

Some commissioners called the development embarrassing and disappointing.

Catherine Smith McKnight, commissioner for District 3 said: “I was embarrassed for our local government.”

Commission members want a new ambulance contract with Gold Cross because they think it could improve service and mend the relationship the city’s had with the company for years.

As far as the subsidy amount? That’s up in the air, too.

Clarke said: “None of the numbers seem to add or match what we can do. It’s about serving every citizen in the city, and that’s what seems to get lost.”

Among the changes they want:

  • Eight ambulances for Augusta, and possibly more during peak times, all with GPS trackers.
  • Daily reporting of all calls and response times over 30 minutes.
  • Nearly a $1 million increase in the subsidy payment, which not everyone is on board with.

Not every commissioner agrees on how things went down. Commissioner Ben Hasan says he understood the plan to be different. he says the city administrator was suppose to draft a contract with the city’s demands, get it approved Tuesday by commission, then take that contract to Gold Cross and negotiate terms.

Hasan says the city administrator did do that, but the contract was not ready until late Monday evening so not everyone had a chance to review it. He also contradicts Mason’s claims by saying the administrator’s contract was not the same at Sias’ in 2018.

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