City may re-bid ambulance service

Commissioner calls for city to review use of Gold Cross

A self-renewing ambulance service contract that Augusta Fire Chief Chris James characterized as “vague” and difficult to enforce could be replaced.


Augusta Commission member Alvin Mason said he requested the city give Gold Cross EMS the nine months’ notice required under its amended contract as a matter of course as city leaders review all contracts up for renewal.

“I don’t want to be waiting until the last minute,” Mason said. “It doesn’t mean they won’t get it.”

Gold Cross, the ambulance provider since 2005, operates under a $1.3 million annual contract that self-renews if the commission doesn’t give the Martinez corporation nine months’ notice.

James, who replaced Howard Willis as fire chief and EMS contract administrator last year, was critical of the arrangement, saying it lacked key definitions such as the number of ambulances the firm must maintain in Augusta and the priority of calls, making it difficult to measure whether Gold Cross was meeting its life-saving obligations.

Commissioner Wayne Guil­foyle said he supported the reviews.

“It’s the only way we can find out if we’re getting the best deal,” he said. “It’s common sense.”

The item is the first on a lengthy agenda for commission committee discussion Monday.

Also up for review is an operations plan at the Augusta Convention Center from operator Augusta River­front LLC, a 38-page document required under the firm’s management agreement with the city.

The firm shares management with Morris Communi­cations Co., owner of The Augusta Chronicle.

The plan specifies fixed personnel, including an events director who will earn $85,000 annually, with potential for a 30 percent bonus, along with six other lesser-paid staffers. It also specifies rental rates of $4,000 a day in the peak season, with the ESi half-Ironman triathlon afforded no rental fee because of its economic impact. The center will require the marketing services of the Augusta Convention and Visitors Bureau, the plan states.

Most committee agenda items require approval by the full commission. Other items on committee agendas include:

• A lease of Augusta Mu­nic­ipal Golf Course to Vir­ginia Beach Golf Manage­ment, with lease payments to the city totaling $101,696 over five years, with the city responsible for capital improvements of more than $5,000

• A bid award to Turner Con­struction Co. for $2,302,011 for the start of renovations at the Municipal Building

• Amending the 2013 budget to add several positions requested last year by City Ad­min­is­trator Fred Russell, including a retail development specialist and contract compliance and a $750 cost-of-living adjustment for employees

• A presentation by Gene­ral Counsel Andrew Mac­Kenzie on the law office’s expenses, including its spending for outside counsel

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