AUGUSTA, Ga. (WFXG) - In just days, the Augusta-Richmond County commission is expected to reach a final decision regarding a contract with ambulance provider Gold Cross.

Commissioner Alvin Mason says he has been pushing for a new contract with Gold Cross since last April. At the time, the cost of the contract was $1.6 million.

"We had plenty of time for debate," says Mason, "and certain commissioners just kept kicking it down the road. Now here we are today."

Since then, the cost of fuel has increased and a nationwide shortage of EMTs has hit the industry. Mason says the requested increased subsidy of nearly $2 million is not out of line for the service that Gold Cross provides.

Commissioner Bobby Williams has a different opinion. 

“I don’t understand 1.95 million on this agenda by any commissioner. That’s not my money. It’s your money that they’re giving away,” he said, speaking to onlookers in Tuesday's commission meeting.

All of the debating that did not happen after Mason's April proposal will now wait for next week, when the commission meets to discuss terms with Gold Cross once again. 

The question has been asked, as the memorandum of understanding has expired, what will happen if a decision is not reached?

Mason says Gold Cross is prepared to stop serving the area.

“There’s a 60-day transitional period where they will continue to give us services at the current rate. Then they would inform the regional council that it’s their intent to pull out.”

That is what happened in Aiken. Gold Cross and South Star each notified the county that they would not provide service after March 11th, and Gold Cross could do the same in Richmond County. Long-term, this means Augusta-Richmond County would need to find an alternative provider, or, more likely, become the provider. The county tried that before, says Mason, in 2014.

“That was never a good idea. It never should have happened. We bought two ambulances, spent millions of dollars, and we couldn’t…we did a poor job, let me just put it that way. I don't want Augusta-Richmond County handling ambulance service for our citizens. I don't want it for me, and if I don't want it for me and my family, I don't want it for Augusta citizens and their dependents either."

Bringing the operation in-house comes with its own expense and time. Mason is concerned that after months of putting the issue aside, time has run out.

“We cannot allow commissioners' personal reasons to get in the way of being professional and taking care of our citizens and making sure that there’s coverage.”

Mayor Garnett Johnson tells FOX54 he is "confident that the commissioners will come to a resolution that will be in the best interest of Augusta-Richmond County constituents."

When asked about a plan in the event the contract is not approved, the Augusta Fire Department tells FOX54, "At the juncture, it would be inappropriate to make any further statement regarding the decision to be made on Tuesday. When focusing on EMS calls, Augusta Fire Department is often able to initiate first-on-the-scene level of care."

Commissioners will take up this issue again Tuesday at the Municipal Building.

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