What happens when leaders talk ambulance service in Augusta? Some commissioners walk out

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT)-- For years, if not decades, the ambulance service in Richmond County has caused friction, confusion,
and debates. More than half a year after the city agreed to negotiate with Gold Cross there seems to be a stalemate--one that had some commissioners leaving chambers.

When there aren't enough commissioners for a quorum, no official vote or decision can be made. In this case, some city leaders presumably left to further stall Gold Cross talks.

With several absent commissioners, there could be no formal decision. So instead, there was a heated debate. And eventually, the mayor offered a follow-up meeting at some point with Gold Cross officials.

About seven months ago, the commission voted to begin negotiations, even making a subcommittee out of it. They were supposed to come up with a contact. It would divide the 911 calls between Gold Cross and the Augusta Fire Department. The contract would also outline some kind of rates.

But according to a few disappointed city leaders, it's been a sham and conversations have continuously stalled. The allegations about negotiations being unproductive, and only happening twice--it only added fuel to today's fire.

Mayor Davis says when the city tried to negotiate, Gold Cross would not meet their terms. Adding, Augusta would attempt to settle one thing (i.e. a subsidy amount), then Gold Cross would flip the script--requesting something completely opposite.

Davis gave the commissioners and the media a timeline, which he says, shows every twist and turn during negotiations.

Gold Cross countered during Tuesday's commission the timeline is not true. Commissioner Sean Frantom also claimed the notes on the city's timeline were not true.

In the end, it's months later and still no official word on who's handling which 911 calls and how citizens will pay for it.

To move forward, Gold Cross is asking the city to subsidize the ambulance service. First, $450,000 in 2019 to be back dated.
Then, $650,000 every year after for a total of seven years.

It's unclear how this will pan out but the city says they will meet with Gold Cross officials in the coming days to resume negotiations.

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