County Board of Commissioners approves agreement between Sumter County and Gold Star EMS, LLC for emergency ambulance services

Published 7:03 pm Thursday, June 16, 2022

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AMERICUS – At its monthly work session on Tuesday, June 14, the Sumter County Board of Commissioners (BOC) voted unanimously to approve an agreement between the county and Gold Star EMS, LLC that states that Gold Star will continue to provide ambulance services to Sumter County.

Before the work session started, Board Chairman Mark Waddell officially welcomed in new County Attorney Hayden Hooks for her first official meeting. Hooks replaces former County Attorney Kimberly Reid, who has decided to move on to other things.

Waddell stated that the BOC voted last month to accept Gold Star’s bid and that during the three-year term of the agreement, there will be a projected increase in price.

At its regular meeting back on Tuesday, May 17, the BOC discussed an RFQ from Gold Star to continue being the county’s ambulance service provider. At that time, the BOC had received two bids: one from Gold Star and the other from Troup County Emergency Medical Services. The lower of the two bids came from Gold Star and it was a three-year agreement. During the first year, the cost would be $489,996. During the second year, it would be $510,000 and in the third year, the cost would be $529,992. Had the BOC chosen to go with the Troup County ambulance service, the cost for each of the three years would have been $837,000 a year.

Having already voted unanimously to accept the bid from Gold Star, the BOC formally approved the agreement at its June Work Session Tuesday night. Waddell stated that this is the first time that the BOC has agreed to this long of an agreement with the changes that are projected over the next three years. Since none of the commissioners had any questions, Waddell asked for a motion to approve the agreement. Commissioner Scott Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Jesse Smith seconded the motion. The BOC voted and the approval passed unanimously.

In other news from the work session, the BOC also voted unanimously to approve the Quitclaim Deed from Sumter County to William Bradley O’Steen for G.W. McLendon Road. The BOC voted several months ago to abandon this road and to sell it to Mr. O’Steen, but what the BOC voted to approve on Tuesday was the recording of the deeds and the transferring of the title and that strip of road to him. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. A vote was taken and the motion to approve the Quitclaim Deed passed unanimously.

The BOC also approved an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) by and between the Georgia Department of Corrections and Sumter County Capacity. County Operations Administrator Rayetta Volley told the BOC that this is an agreement that is done every year regarding the housing of the inmates at the Macon Correctional Institute. Commissioner Roberson made a motion for approval and Commissioner Smith seconded the motion. A vote was taken and the approval passed unanimously.

The BOC also heard from Jason Sizemore of Amerigreen Environmental Recycling during the time for “appearances” at the work session. For several minutes, Sizemore expressed his concerns about the rising fuel costs and how it has affected his business. He stated that his company has had an agreement with the county that states that for every 25 cents that fuel went up, there would be an eight-cent increase. “Nobody foresaw the amount that fuel was going to go up. Now, the last fuel adjustment is at $3.75,” Sizemore told the BOC. Sizemore went on to say that because of the unforeseen rise in fuel costs, his company is having to spend about an additional $1,000 a week. As a result, Sizemore told the BOC that he is requesting that it allow Amerigreen to charge more in order to make up for the extra costs.

“It comes out to about $4,000 a month right now that we are eating compared to what we were doing before,” Sizemore said. “We’re just coming to try to see what the Board of Commissioners can do for us.” Sizemore went on to say that while he realizes that the BOC has a budget, his company, along with everyone else, has a budget as well and that everyone’s budget has been wrecked by the rising fuel costs.

“We’re just trying to get with y’all and see if we can come up with some kind of an agreement to be able to pass the fuel along because $4,000 a month is a lot of money,” Sizemore said.

For clarification purposes, Waddell asked Volley what the current fuel adjustment rate is and she replied that it is $3.75. Sizemore replied that he is not looking to change the price in the contract with the county and that he is not looking to put a surcharge on that never comes off. “It’s a price that actually is real time with the price of fuel,” Sizemore said. “We bid it out, it’s $3.00 per gallon and when it goes to $3.25, that’s eight cents per house and then, once it goes to $3.50, then that’s 16 cents per house and then when it goes to $3.75, then that will be the 24 cents per house. That was the cap that was put in. That was the most increments we could charge. We go by a government website that gives the average fuel prices. What we’re trying to do is be able to pretty much to go above the $3.75. Right now, we are charging 24 cents per house extra. It’s equivalent to a little over $1,400 per month at the moment, but everybody knows that we’re definitely spending more than $1,400 per month extra on our fuel bill,” Sizemore continued.

Waddell asked Sizemore what the average price of diesel is in Sumter County and he replied that it is about $5.29 to $5.39 a gallon. Waddell then asked Sizemore what he is proposing that the BOC specifically do. Sizemore replied that he wants the BOC to remove the restriction that only allows Amerigreen to go to three increments of fuel adjustments. He added that he would like to be able to keep the fuel adjustments in line with the fuel prices instead of having a cap on how many his company can charge. “The information comes off a government website and we send it in every month with a bill,” Sizemore said.

Waddell replied that the BOC would have to study this further and look carefully at the numbers to see if Sizemore’s request is feasible and fits within the county’s budget. He added that the county cannot increase garbage fees simply because everything else increases. “We’re stuck with a price for a year no matter what happens,” Waddell said. “We get to change that once a year and that’s it. We can’t change it multiple times a year.” Sizemore replied that while he understands the position that the BOC is in, he stated that everybody’s budget, including that of the Department of Public Works and the Sheriff’s Office, has been blown for everything.

Waddell replied to Sizemore that Amerigreen’s business is soley driven by fuel, while all the other county departments are driven by salaries, healthcare and many other things. “We’re constrained to a certain amount that we collect and right now, we can’t change that or move that until later on in the year if we decide to make an adjustment,” Waddell said. “If we did try to make an adjustment, it’s not going to happen until 2023.”